Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon): It's just one game, but it was a big one for Pac-10

By Bob Clark

The Register-Guard

One week into the season, and the operative coachspeak is that it's only one game. Win or lose, perform well or ... well, like Arizona, and coaches are pleading not to make too much of one game.  At California, the message seemed to be getting across, despite the euphoria over the Bears gaining revenge on Tennessee.  "They didn't give us a trophy or anything," Cal middle linebacker Worrell Williams said. "We didn't win a championship.  "We're on a path that includes championships. We can dwell on it and celebrate it after it's all said and done."  Still, that win was significant for Cal and the Pac-10. The Bears are looking at a road trip to Colorado State and then consecutive home games against Louisiana Tech and Arizona before playing at Oregon. The Bears will be a top 10 team when the polls come out today, and might stay there for a while.  As for the league, that Cal showing in the national spotlight of a Saturday night game helps the entire league, in its perception across the country. It counters what happened to Cal last year at Tennessee, and what LSU coach Les Miles said during the summer, when he made much of the image of the Pac-10 as USC and the nine wannabes.  After Cal's victory, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked Cal coach Jeff Tedford about the comments from Miles.  "No response," Tedford said. "This was more about us, about our guys playing for each other."  Wilner started to walk away, and heard Tedford add one comment: "We'll see how LSU does against Tennessee."  Too bad LSU and Tennessee don't play this season, as members of different divisions of the SEC. Unless, of course, the meet in the SEC title game.  Point taken, however. Anything Tennessee does this year helps Cal, and the Pac-10.

A Bear who cares

If Cal showed well against Tennessee, so did receiver DeSean Jackson. He had four receptions and gained 21 yards on a reverse, but it was his punt return for 77 yards that will help bring attention. Like from Heisman Trophy voters.  "There's been a lot of talk about me and the Heisman, about my status," Jackson said. "It's good to show everyone what I'm about. I'm capable of making big, huge plays."  It's actually refreshing to hear a standout player be candid about himself. Cal has launched a Web site (The1towatch.com) to promote him, and Jackson should be a strong candidate if the Bears keep winning and he keeps performing.  Why shouldn't he be honest and say the award means something to him?  "I can't think of anyone at Cal having done that," Jackson told the Contra Costa Times. "It'd be huge for the university."  Cal running back Chuck Muncie was the Heisman runner-up in 1975, and the Bears have 12 times had a player finish in the top 10, most recently J.J. Arrington in eighth and Aaron Rodgers ninth in 2004.  There are drawbacks. Jackson took a couple of big hits from Tennessee defenders and expects more.  "Being up for the Heisman, people are out there trying to take your head off," he said. "If they think I'm the best and they take me out, they'll think they're the best. I've got a target on me, and that's all right."

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