Texas rallies past Golden Bears
BERKELEY, Calif. -- California refused to run up the score or beg for poll votes.
Maybe the Bears should have.
|“||I thought it was a little classless how Coach Brown was begging for votes after the [Texas A&M] game. I think a team's record and the way you play should speak for itself, and you shouldn't have to complain about the BCS system. ”|
|— Cal QB Aaron Rodgers|
Cal (10-1) was left out of the Bowl Championship Series, denied one of the eight spots in college football's big-money games despite a season of statistical superlatives and dominating victories.
The fourth-ranked Golden Bears will be stuck at the Holiday Bowl while Texas plays in the Rose Bowl.
Cal's Rose Bowl drought reached 46 years despite one of the best regular seasons in school history.
The Bears felt beaten as they left their team meeting. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers saw confusion and disappointment in his teammates when they found out their Rose Bowl dreams were replaced with a trip to San Diego to face Texas Tech.
"It just shows it's a faulty system, and we've got to do something to change it up," Rodgers said. "I bet Auburn is pretty ticked, too. ... Nobody cares about West Coast football, I don't think. I just hope Southern Cal represents us well."
Texas (10-1) surged past the Bears in the final BCS standings despite Cal's 26-16 road victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday night. The Longhorns gained points in both polls, and the computer rankings kept Texas well in front of Cal. The Longhorns will face Michigan (9-2) on Jan. 1.
There were dozens of factors in the decision, but the Bears felt they were superior in almost every venue -- except the political arena. Rodgers figured Texas coach Mack Brown's pleading for poll support made a difference, and he was glad Cal coach Jeff Tedford never did likewise.
"I thought it was a little classless how Coach Brown was begging for votes after the [Texas A&M] game," Rodgers said. "I think a team's record and the way you play should speak for itself, and you shouldn't have to complain about the BCS system. Coach Tedford isn't going to, although he's frustrated just like we are. I think we're a bigger team, classier than that."
Tedford was less emotional than Rodgers, but no less disappointed as he evaluated the Bears' long list of accomplishments.
The only blemish on their record was a six-point loss at top-ranked USC. They beat 10 teams by an average of 23.9 points per game. They were the only school in the nation's top six both in scoring offense and scoring defense.
The Rose Bowl has matched a Big 10 team against a Pac-10 school for decades, and with the Pac-10 champion Trojans headed to the Orange Bowl, Cal hoped to end the conference's longest Rose Bowl drought. Instead, there will be burnt orange in the Pasadena stands.
"I just feel terrible for the alumni and the fans who have waited so long for this," Tedford said. "As a program, we were set on the Rose Bowl. I felt like we did enough to earn that."
Most of the Bears still were jet-lagged and exhausted after grinding out a victory in Hattiesburg just 18 hours earlier in a game postponed from Sept. 16 by Hurricane Ivan. The late-season road trip provided a national television audience -- but when the Golden Eagles were difficult to put away, it might have swayed some voters away.
And that was baffling to Tedford, who refused to try to score one last touchdown in the waning seconds to pad the score. The Bears also were hurt by a questionable clipping call in the closing minutes, which negated a touchdown run by J.J. Arrington.
Normally, Tedford wouldn't spare a second's thought on such issues -- but in the BCS world, it might have made a difference.
"If yesterday's game was the game that turned anybody's head, then that's sad, because it's about a season," Tedford said. "We're going to keep our same philosophy. It's hard enough just to win games."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press