There are sour grapes, and then there is losing and refusing to ever accept defeat. As Cal and Northwestern meet to start the 2014 season on Saturday, Cal apparently falls in the latter category.
See, after last season’s 44-30 loss to the Wildcats, Cal head coach Sonny Dykes apparently took exception to the number of “injuries” that were happening to Northwestern’s defense in the final quarter of the game.
Following the game Dykes had this to say about what took place over the final quarter-plus of the game:
“It was just unusual,” Dykes It seemed like every time we would have a first down they would have an injury. I haven’t seen that, didn’t expect to see that, was disappointed that I saw that, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
After hearing that statement, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald took exception to another head coach calling in to question his integrity and the integrity of the Wildcats players.
So, naturally questions about that incident have come up ahead of the teams’ rematch this weekend. Publicly neither coach will address what happened, but that appears to only be publicly. That’s because on Tuesday a story on SFGate.com points out how little Cal players have been willing to let it go — and the source of that has been Dykes and Cal coaching staff.
According to the story on SFGate.com:
“I definitely remember,” said junior wide receiver Chris Harper. “We were going fast tempo and some guys went down apparently, I guess they were hurt. I think they were faking it, yes.
“The (coaches) just brought it up once,” Harper added. “They were saying they’re not going to be able to fake injuries this year because we’re going to keep moving so fast.”
Call it bulletin board material, call it having a long memory even, but apparently Cal never bothered to study the rest of Northwestern’s 2013 season. If ever there was a team who could have ill-afforded to be faking injuries it was the Northwestern Wildcats.
This was the same game where star running back Venric Mark’s slow spiral downward began thanks to an ankle injury that never would fully heal. Cal apparently never bothered to study how many players would go down, come back and go down again — all in the name of trying to get this team towards its goals all season long.
Dykes and his staff can motivate players with words all they want, but actions definitely speak louder than words.
For Fitzgerald’s part, the only words he’s spoken since that original incident came at a fan function and they are pretty apropos:
“The way it went last year,” Fitzgerald said, “I look forward to shaking that coach’s hand after we beat ’em.”
If things go down like last year, Cal will have nothing to say because the scoreboard will have spoken volumes not once, but twice.
Given the war of words, it’s good this will ultimately be settled between the lines on Ryan Field this weekend.