Dateline: San Diego
This week’s Buchanan Report focuses on Cal Berkeley's Stadium retrofit, Jim Furyk's chances for making the Ryder Cup, funny golf commercials, and more.
Don't hate me. This summer has been jam packed with travel as "The Buchanan Report " (I know it's weird to refer to myself in the 3rd person, but they give me certain leeway here) has been to Sedona, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, El Paso (yes, I was there several times and threw that in so no one would feel too jealous) Jackson Hole, and this weekend in a fancy resort in San Diego. It would be nice if WSR would pick up part of the tab for all this even though there is absolutely no business reason for any of it. Still, it would be nice if the Business Manager for the site would pick up the tab for lunch at Poco and Mom's next time.
I’ve been forbidden to speak of the outstanding green chile at Poco and Mom’s by WSR’s own Friday Fizz, but only in the game day chat rooms. So far there is no such edict in my columns – yet. I do sense jealousy since he doesn't live in Tucson, but whatever. If you're looking for a great pre-game meal, you can't go wrong at Kolb and 22nd. Don't get mixed up and try to order the Chile Relleno at Irv's Rental though. You might end up renting one of those cylindrical chile roasters. Then you'll have to drive to Hatch, N.M. for a "chile run." The right place is one door down, my friends, for a taco. You can thank me later.
Do I hate Cal football? No, it's kind of hard to gin up animosity for the Bears. As Erik W. Kay pointed out, Arizona's signature win of the decade came against Cal, and over the years, the UA-Cal game has featured some bizarre twists and turns.
We will miss the Bears more often than not, since they are in the North division of the Pac-12, but in an odd statistical quirk, over the last 15 games dating back to 1994 (we also missed them due to the unbalanced Pac-12 schedule in 1999-2000), Arizona leads the series 9-6 against Cal. Interestingly, despite holding the series advantage, the Wildcats have been outscored by the Bears 436-379 during the span. Six of those games were decided by five points or less, and two of them were one-point wins for Arizona, 1996 and 2010.
CAL’S NEW STADIUM
I caught up with Herb Benenson, Cal’s Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Communications, on his cell phone while he was conducting a walk through for the media today at Memorial Stadium. This project has been surrounded by controversy since this major proposal to retrofit Memorial came off the drawing board. There will be some minor touch ups and clean up after the opening game, but the Golden Bears will indeed host Nevada on September 1 in the new stadium. Along with the renovation of Husky Stadium in Washington, this project's final cost is well over $300 million.
The first of many obstacles to the stadium redux was opposition to the cutting down of "old growth" pine trees that surrounded the bowl-shaped venue. Ah, you gotta love Berkeley, but I digress. These are simple pine trees that were planted during the original construction of Memorial Stadium in 1923. You've seen the pictures from a few years ago of protestors perched above Memorial Stadium, literally residing in these trees ala Swiss Family Robinson. The idea being that these trees shouldn't be cut down. As a salute (maybe -- just a guess here) to those trees that formerly housed some of Berkeley's overzealous protectors of the environment the new benches in Memorial Stadium are constructed of aluminum.
Memorial Stadium will truly be one of the gems of west coast football, with sight lines that offer great viewing from any seat, and the upgraded elements of the retrofit will feature wider concourses, more legroom and a much more comfortable environment for fans thanks to the addition of a new press box, training facilities, and premium seating while maintaining the historic sense of the architecture of the original 1923 design. WSR also learned that the final capacity figures for attendance for the newly retrofit Memorial Stadium will be 63,186. Thanks to a little proactive sourcing, WSR is actually the first media source to capture this information due to Mr. Benenson's timely return call this afternoon about 1/2 hour after those numbers came into his office.
The field turf installation at Memorial is being completed as I write this article with the addition of more sand and rubber particles, which begs the question – at least in my view - in today’s world, how could legendary OSU coach Woody Hayes' description of his offense even be quotable?
I mean, would any modern writer fanatically grab for his cub reporter's pencil if Hayes intoned; "there are three things that can happen when you throw the ball, and two of 'em are bad. No boys, in my offense I prefer three yards and a cloud of silica and ground up synthetic rubber, some of it composed of old tires, but nowadays originally created as little bits of rubber designed to reduce friction and suppress heat."
While it would have reduced one of college football's most colorful characters to someone with nothing interesting to say, artificial turf also caused George Malalulu to break his leg when he caught it in an infamous seam at Memorial Stadium, and those are at least two more reasons to hate artificial turf. Greg – are you listening?
But before they laid the turf, the engineers at Berkley laid down over 50,000 yards of concrete and 14 million pounds of steel into the Hayward fault, which bisects the field, in order to protect the place from the big one. One engineer even said that Memorial Stadium is the place to be in case there is an earthquake in the Berkeley area. Has anyone ever told him what the designers of the Titanic said? Right now, I'm glad we only play Cal occasionally.
But congratulations are in order to the University of California for the completion of this enormous project. It has hosted some of the most historic moments in college football history, from "wrong way Riegals" to the classic Stanford/Cal game with at least 40 laterals and the subsequent crushing of the Stanford band member in the end zone. The way I look at it, when it comes to those now famous Cal protestors, if the Bears can make a habit of trying to routinely destroy the Stanford Tree, they can certainly trade a few trees on the hillside for one of the finer college football venues on the west coast.
Props to the University of California Athletic Department as well, and especially Herb Benenson for taking the time to respond to our questions during what had to be a hectic media day for him. Herb, lunch is on us at Poco and Moms next time you're in Tucson. You've got my digits.
As previously mentioned, steady Jim Furyk has been über competitive this year, coming oh so close in the Transition’s Championship, U.S. Open, and the World Golf Championship, finishing in second place each time. Presently, Jim is 11th in Ryder Cup points, but the captain, Davis Love, is obligated to take only the first eight qualifiers. Love has four Captain's picks, and needs to choose wisely to compete against a loaded European roster. Unfortunately, Jim did not make the cut his week in the Barclays Championship at Beth Paige Black, in Long Island. I'm thinking that Love will choose Furyk, and pair him with Tiger Woods in alternate shot play. At least that’s what would be the wise thing to do by Love. Bear down, Jim!
OK, funniest recent golf commercial. Check out golfnow.com’s latest campaign featuring "original" winner of the Open Championship, "old Tom Morris." A resurrected or time traveler version of Morris appears in the 21st century only to be confronted with 21st Century technology. In one ad, Morris is delighted as his young mentor assures him that he can book a tee time for them the next day, online, after which a delighted Morris heads out the door with his sheep carrying the smallest Sunday bog you have ever seen (four clubs and some gutta percha balls). Tom then exclaims, "If we leave now, we can get there by first light," to which his mentor says, "Or we can leave, in the morning, by car."
My favorite commercial, though, has Tom Morris sitting at the club bar, sipping on a scotch and talking to his young colleague. When he gets up to leave Morris reaches into his satchel, breaks out a live chicken that’s squawking, places it on the bar and generously tells the bartender to "keep the change."
As I finish this edition of the Buchanan Report, I'm poolside, looking out onto the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and proudly wearing my new Arizona t- shirt. I can't tell you how many people have come up and complimented me on our school colors – Sage Green and Silver!
Can Nike be far behind in designing our new throwback unis? Let's get this right; Silver helmets, Sage Green jerseys, Silver pants, and Silver football shoes. So Clasic!