First Tailgate: Grilled Salmon

Our first tailgate party of the 2015 season featured Dan’s grilled salmon.

salmon on the grill

Dan’s salmon is on the grill for the first tailgate of 2015. The fillets are placed on the grill skin side down. No turning!

Sandbagging Aztecs

The online forums for San Diego State have been ablaze with the flames of Alumni discontent.  Why?  Because SDSU’s ball-control offense scored only one TD for the entire game against the Toreros of the University of San Diego — who have a grand total of Zero scholarship players.

No, SDSU isn’t “doing a Stanfurd” — they went up by 3 scores, and just decided to use one page of the playbook.  They’ll be looking to play smashmouth football at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, taking long marches down the field, and keeping Cal’s potent offense on the sidelines.  SDSU’s level of play last week was not an indication of how they’ll play against Cal.

That said, I believe that Cal will be ready for SDSU.  This will be a first test for the Defense, and I think that they’ll do quite well at stopping RB Donnell Pumphrey up the middle.  When he gets outside, and is up against our safeties, he may see a bit more success.

SDSU is a good team, but no match for Cal’s skill players — as long as the OL can give QB Jared Goff enough time to find open receivers.

Cal beats the Aztecs, 52-24.

Can the 2015 Bears Live Up to the Hype?

In a word: YES!

The 2015 Cal Football team is faster, stronger, more experienced, and deeper than in either of the past two years under HC Sonny Dykes.

This year is the year that Cal reaches “critical mass” in two areas:

  1. The Bears’ improved Defense will put more pressure on opposing QBs, and get more stops.  More depth in the defensive secondary will help the Bears give up fewer yards late in games, especially through the air.
  2. OC Tony Franklin’s offense is loaded with fast, capable WRs who are on a rotation throughout the game.  Their mission is to wear down the  DBs, and to test the depth of opposing defenses.  Even if the opponent has a lock-down corner, he’s going to have to come out — and his backup will need to know what he’s doing.

In 2014, the Bears’ offense sputtered, and couldn’t sustain drives against good defenses.  This worked against them, by putting their defense back on the field to soon, and wearing them out, beyond the limits of their depth.

This year, with eight returning starters, the Bears’ offense looks to be much more confident, with better & faster execution overall.  Drives against good teams that stalled last year will turn into TDs and more possession time.  The Defense will rest.  There will be sacks.

The Bears are poised to get “over the hump” on both offense and defense this year, and could do even better than many of the experts are predicting.

Speaking of predictions…:

Grambling has some limited early success, but succumbs to The Bear.  Lots of playing time for lots of people. Cal 52 – Grambling St. 24.  Offensive fireworks display.  Don’t blink, and do not leave your seat — you might miss a score.

Cal does not beat the spread.


Bean and Barley Vegetarian Chili


For a cold and rainy day, what better than a hot bowl of chili.  We cooked this up the night before and we’re wrapping it in a blanket for transport to the tailgate.  Another great recipe from the NFL Game Day Cookbook.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable stock if you want to go low-fat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (we used shallots)
  • 1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 3 canned chipotles in adobo sauce, drained and finely chopped (DO NOT PUT THE WHOLE CAN IN!)
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (we used smoked paprika)
  • One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (or use two cans and leave out the sauce for a chunkier chili)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley (you can either pre-cook or add directly and bring chili to a boil to cook)
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • One 15-ounce can chili beans (or can of sweet corn for a different twist)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt – or salt to taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil.

Saute the onion, bell pepper, carrots and garlic for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the bread crumbs, chipotles, cumin, chili powder, and paprika.

Combine thoroughly.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and barley.  Stir.

Add the black beans, chili beans, water, brown sugar, and salt.  Mix well.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors come together.

Makes 8 servings.

Defense is Destiny

Can the Bears play defense?

That’s it. Nothing more can be said.

As to the rest of the P-12, both LA-State and A-State choked on the way to the P-12 Championship in “Jeans that Don’t Fit” Field which means that the ‘cats get a rematch with the Quacks and I think this time the Quacks are going to prepare a bit better since a berth in the Final Four is at stake.

The National picture could also be sent into chaos with upsets on Saturday as well as in the Conference Championships next week.

This one is for Frank

f28833ba-543c-4811-9670-af685e771b03Cal has lost another member of it’s illustrious family as Frank Kaiser passed away on November 7, 2014, with family present. You can read his obituary in the Chronicle, but I’ll give you a bigger picture about who he was.

Over the past 37 years, Frank and I watched both on television and in person countless Cal sporting events. I knew that his health was beginning to fail when I showed off the new Haas Pavilion to him and he nearly had a heart attack climbing the ramps and stairs. But he made it because he loved Cal sports.

His relationship with Cal began in high school in the 40s. As the Cal band was short of players because of the war (and because women were not allowed to play), local high school students were invited to play with the band. The band was more informal then, an informality which led to the resignation of the band’s director after the Rose Bowl fiasco of 1950 (which I believe Frank witnessed in person), so it was easy for students to join in for a particular game. In any case, Frank had the distinction of having played with the Cal Band before being a Cal student.

He paid his way through Cal with the prize money from the San Francisco Press Club writing competition, which he won with his radio play, “You Can’t Print That” which the Press Club arranged to broadcast nationally starring Jack Webb. He was part of the post war classes and he was there in 1946 when the returning GIs created a bonfire from the bleachers after a stunning 25-6 loss in the Big Game.

He graduated in 1950 with a degree in journalism, and he achieved his dream job when he became a sports reporter for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin. He was everything a journalist needed to be in those days, observant, quick witted and adept with a manual typewriter (we still have his portable typewriter). He covered Cal, USF, and events such as the Modesto Relays. He worked with Franklin Mieuli on one of the first post-game analysis radio shows as he had a great radio voice.

Frank covered the 1957 Big Game just a few days after his daughter (my wife) Karri was born and, even though Cal lost, they honored Frank and Karri with a signed game ball which is somewhere in the attic.

Alas the newspaper business was consolidating and the Call-Bulletin was folded into the Examiner. Frank moved on the advertising where he won several Addy’s and was a pioneer in direct mail advertising using computer managed mailing lists. When I was working for Digital Equipment Corporation, Frank’s mailing lists were managed by our mini-computers.

At home he was a gourmet cook, welder, woodworker, bonsai artist, and photographer. Let’s just say that he never did anything half-way.

When his health began to decline, he didn’t complain. He smoked for many years and he was now paying the price for it with COPD. In the end, we were able to keep him comfortable and conscious. He knew we were all there and he appreciated our presence.

My mother-in-law says that his passing has had an affect on all of us. She says that it has made us all kinder. Karri and I have taken time off and reflected on our own lives.

Saturday we’ll be in Underhill for a dialed-down tailgate with a few friends and we’ll toast to Frank’s memory.

Cal 42, Stanford 17.


Football is a mental/emotional game, and I think that this Cal team is in an excellent frame of mind. They showed that they can pull a game out of the fire (last week’s road victory at OSU), and this week, I think they use that confidence to finally beat U$C at the Colisseum.

The Bears will be nearly back at full strength — and just in time. WR Trevor Davis will be returning, and the extra few days of rest will help the other banged-up WRs. More importantly, Avery Sebastian will return to action, joining Stefan McClure at safety. Their experience will give the Bears a huge boost; U$C’s offense is all about play action, and they eat inexperienced safeties for lunch. (Hint: If you see U$C WR Nelson Agholor wide open, check to see who’s playing safety.)

This will be a real test for the Bears. U$C is a better team on paper, but if Cal is close near the end of the 3rd quarter (and I believe they will be), they stand an excellent chance of getting deeper into U$C’s depth chart, and moving the ball through the air.

This will be a hard-fought game, and the young Bears will need to be resourceful and execute well in order to move the ball. Daniel Lasco won’t have gaping holes to run through, like he did up in Corvallis, but he’ll make some tough yards, and he’ll move the chains.

Cal wins this one, 38-35.

Crusade at the Coliseum

What do we know about $C this year? They squeaked by a now known-to-be-lousy ‘furd squad, dropped a shocker to BC, and then lost to the ‘devs and the Utes on last second TDs. A “signature” win against ‘zona was preserved when the ‘cats kicker missed his third field goal of the night so $C is one lousy kick away from also being 5-4. So why is $C a 14 point favorite? I think it is largely historical. Cal hasn’t won in the Coliseum since the Coolidge administration (or so it seems) and $C did demolish Wazoo last week, but the Golden Bears are coming off an emotional win at Corvallis where they hadn’t won since the Harding administration. Both teams have had almost two weeks to prepare which in my mind gives the edge to Cal which needed the time to get key players back into the lineup. On the other hand, will they over prepare for an $C defense which just isn’t that good? If Cal can put 30 points of their nearly 42 point average on $C, that may be enough to win as $C lost to teams scoring 35, 38 and 24 points and should have lost the game where they gave up 26 and 3 missed field goals. Can Cal deal with yet another instance where the opponents edge may be largely psychological? The game in Corvallis was a real gut check – and the impact on the OSU program could be substantial (like a coaching change). $C is playing for pride as they lose the tie-breaker to the ‘devs on head-to-head and they will be the underdog in the Bell game this year. This game will be tough and may come down to a final kick with Cal winning 38-35 on an over/under line of 72.

In the Norris division, the Quacks have wrapped up the title, but Cal can land second place by winning out against $C and ‘furd with a combined 11-7 record. In the Queen of England division, the ‘devs are in the driver’s seat with only ‘zona in their way to a second straight title and showdown with the Quacks. LA State owns the tie-breaker over the ‘devs but must itself win out against $C and ‘furd at home.

In national play, a berth in the Soft Drink Playoff is up for grabs as Miss State visits ‘bama with the question being which team will be lucky and which will be good? With two of the best defenses on the field, this could be another 9-6 game or, if Dan Mullen can pull an Urban Meyer, 35-6. I’m going with 35-6 as I don’t think ‘bama can keep up with the ‘dogs.

Crossroads in Corvallis

A night-after-Halloween match with the Beavs in the stadium that Potato Salad built is almost as bad as a Halloween night match with them but I’ll take it.  Cal is staggering after 3 consecutive losses and OSU after 2.  Worse for OSU, they are supposed to be led by one of the best passers in the league.  Sean of the Dead was supposed to break the yardage record last week but he basically DNPed against ‘furd and if the weather cooperates (unfortunately no rain forecast for tonight) he might not break the record tonight.  Cal remains one of the top 5 passing teams and 11th in scoring in the Soft Drink Playoff Division but holy mother of God is the defense killing us.  Has any team in history given up 56, 59 and 59 points and won 2 out of those 3 games?  Probably not.  Tonight is the chance for the defense to step up big time against a team showing average numbers for passing and bottom of the barrel numbers for rushing.  The  Large Brown Rodents will have Storm Woods back in action and this guy has had his breakout games against Cal, but a wet field and good linebacker play should keep him in check.  Whether Sean of the Dead can resurrect his game against Cal is the pivotal question and this is chance for Cal’s non-existent pass rush to create some havoc.  Last year they had all-world receiver Brandin Cooks to burn secondaries.  This year is another story.

As for the Cal offense, it is statistically one of the best in the country, and but for turnovers and misfires, the Washington and Oregon games would have been competitive if not outright W’s.   For a young team it is a remarkable accomplishment to put that many yards and points on the board – the problem being that points for is 332 vs 328 points against.  Cal’s deep receiver corps is beaten up so it would make sense to get more productivity (running and receiving) from Cal’s deep and not-quite-so-beaten up rushers, including Rubenzer who lined up at receiver on a couple of plays last week.  Rodents are favored but with bowl bids on the line for both teams, I’ll give Cal the edge at 35-21.

In the rest of the P-12, more decisive games pitting the top teams in the Norris and Queen of England divisions.  ‘furd travels to ‘gon to determine the fate of the Norris.  A Quack win puts them 2 games up.  Every other team in the Norris has at least 3 P-12 losses.  Quacks are almost a 2 TD favorite but weird things happen in these games so expect it to either go down to the wire or be a wild blow-out.  My money is on the blow-out as Oregon looked very good last week.

The Queen of England division has more parity with 5 teams at 1 or 2 losses, and 4 of those teams playing one another.  ‘tah vists the Devs and ‘zona visits ‘la with the QoE division up for grabs – the winners will be in the drivers seat.  Utah has the toughest stretch ahead with Oregon, ‘furd and ‘zona.  If the Solarians get by the Utes, then they have the easiest path with only ‘zona in their way.  ‘zona will have to get by Utah and UCLA has $C and ‘furd left on their schedule (plus they already have 2 conference losses).  Utah has squeaked by in their last 3 games so expect the Solarians to prevail and I like ‘zona over ‘la.

In other action, who knew that we’d be reading up on the tailgating techniques in the Grove at Ole Miss.  Or that we’d all learn where Mississippi State was located (both the University and the State).  It would be nice to see some teams besides Florida, Alabama or LSU in the national championship so let’s hope that these guys keep winning.

Bears Take A Few Shots At The Ducks

Jared Goff will likely have another good game, and he’ll be taking his shots at the Ducks, but the difference in this game will be defense. Oregon will get more defensive stops than Cal.

Cal’s defense is depleted to begin with, both Brennan Scarlett and Avery Sebastian are out, and the Bears inexperienced secondary has struggled to tackle ball carriers in space. With this setup, the Oregon offense presents the absolute worst possible matchup. Expect the Bears to do reasonably well for 3 or 4 plays, and then give up a long TD.

At least the defense won’t be on the field too long.

The Bears take their shots & hit a few Ducks, but at the end of the… evening… it’s

Oregon 52, Cal 36