Nov. 20, 1997
Cal's All-Time Big Game Team Selected
Many of the greatest names in California Football history highlight the 26-member all-time Cal Big Game team announced Thursday by the San Francisco Chronicle and Citibank, following a month-long vote by the public.
The team was selected out of a group of more than 60 modern-era (since 1937) nominees submitted by Cal's athletic department. From ironman lineman Bob Reinhard who played before World War II, to several members of Pappy Waldorf's highly successful run as head coach, to the nucleus of Cal's explosive 1975 offense, the all-time Big Game team covers a large part of Golden Bear football history.
The final balloting showed 12 offensive players and 12 defensive players to go along with a pair of kickers, although several players in the early era played both ways.
The array of offensive stars on Cal's team would make any school proud.
Headlining the group are All-America running backs Jackie Jensen, who captured the fancy of the football world as "The Golden Boy" from 1946 to '48 and Chuck Muncie, who dominated college football from 1973 to '75. The first player to ever rush for 1,000 yards in a season for Cal, Jensen was known for his incredible athletic ability which also forged a distinguished pro baseball career. His acrobatic pass across his body to teammate Paul Keckley resulted in a dramatic 80-yard TD pass to pull out a 21-18 victory for the Bears over Stanford in 1947 and conclude a 9-1 season. The next year he set a Big Game record by rushing for 170 yards on just 19 carries to key a 7-6 win which sent Cal to the Rose Bowl. Muncie was the key man in Cal's potent 1975 offense that completed dominated the 1975 game en route to a 48-15 victory. The 6-2, 225-pounder with 4.6 speed could do it all and he proved it in the '75 game when he scored four touchdowns and threw a 46-yard TD pass for another score while rushing for 169 yards. He also scored TDs in the '73 and '74 games, giving him then the Big Game scoring record.
The other running back on the Cal team wasn't as well know nationally, but he certainly was no stranger to Stanford. Jim Monachino not only set a Big Game record that still stands with an 84-yard run, but went on to rush for 190 yards on 20 carries while the Bears destroyed Stanford 33-14 in 1949 to clinch an undefeated regular season and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
The all-time features a trio of wide receivers who left their mark on the college game. Speedy Wesley Walker whose 25.7 career reception average is still has the best average per catch for any player in NCAA history with at least 75 receptions. His big play ability extended to the Big Game as caught a pair of 46-yard TD passes, including one from Chuck Muncie in Cal's huge win over the Cardinal in 1975.
Accounting for 21 catches, 358 yards and five touchdowns in three games against Stanford made Sean Dawkins hard to ignore for an all-time Big Game berth. His best game was his finale when he reeled in 9 catches for 144 yards and 2 TDs in 1992.
In some ways, Steve Rivera wasn't as spectacular as Walker and Dawkins, but it's hard to argue with the impact he had in the traditional rivalry. He set a Big Game record with 205 receiving yards in 1974, including a 13-yard TD catch that gave Cal a 20-19 lead with 26 left in the game. That incredible performance was tarnished by Stanford's late field goal to win the game at the final gun.
The Cal offensive line is led by three-time All-American Rod Franz, who led a punishing Cal ground attack that rolled up a Big Game record 390 rushing yards in the Bears 33-14 win in 1949.
A pair of recent All-Americans, guard Ted Albrecht and tackle Todd Steussie also earned All-Big Game status. Albrecht started three straight Stanford games, but was picked on the basis of the '75 rout when he helped push around the Cardinal for 268 rushing yards and a total of 488 yards in a 48-15 win. Steussie started four Big Games from 1990-93, with his teams averaging 439.5 yards of total offense in those games and twice keyed rushing attacks that gained over 250 yards (in '90 and '93).
Massive offensive tackle Harvey Salem also started four Big Games, winning three times from 1979 to '82 and concluding his college career with the dramatic last-second win in '82.
The quarterbacks for the Big Game team had diametrically different styles, but ended up at the same place as winners. Joe Kapp would just as soon run over a lineman as avoid him and he parlayed that style of play into a pair of dramatic Big Game victories. The first came in 1956 as he gained 106 yards on the ground to key an upset of Stanford in Pappy Waldorf's final game as a college coach. Two years later, he came back to lead the Bears to a Rose Bowl when he ran in a two-point conversion in the '58 game, helping the Bears to a 16-15 victory.
While Kapp was as subtle as a sledgehammer, Joe Roth was as sleek as a championship racehorse. His fluid passing style earned him first team All-America honors in 1976 despite a bout with cancer that eventually claimed his young life. However, he was at the absolute top of his game late in the 1975 game and Stanford paid the price. He led the Cal offense to a Big Game record 48 points by directing a balanced Cal offense. He only threw for 163 yards, but it was enough in Cal's 487-15 victory.
Defensively, Cal's Big Game team has less nationally know names, but certainly worthy of a place in Big Game lore.
Nobody will ever forget Cal's famous five-lateral kickoff return that miraculously won the 1982 Big Game in the final seconds and the man who helped orchestrate that play, defensive back Kevin Moen, leads the Bear defense. Moen not only scored the winning touchdown in that '82 play, but played a major role in Cal's win in 1980 when he had a huge blitz on Stanford's John Elway deep in Cal territory to disrupt a potential tying TD in a 28-23 victory.
Another player who was chosen in the secondary has a similar dramatic Big Game moment as Paul Keckley was a two-way standout for the Bears in 1948. He led the Bears with seven interceptions in 1948, but made his mark in the '48 Big Game as a receiver. After missing most of the game with a shoulder injury, he convinced Pappy Waldorf to put him in the final two minutes, caught a short pass from Jackie Jensen and went on a spectacular run for an 80-yard TD which gave the Bears a come-from-behind victory. Taking a place in the secondary is Jack Hart, who had just a big an impact while playing on offense. He played excellent defense in Cal's Rose Bowl-clinching 16-15 victory in 1958, but also rushed for 103 yards on 22 attempts in that game.
Versatile Eric Zomalt played linebacker, safety and cornerback during his four Big Game starts from 1990-93, concluding his career with a 46-17 thrashing of the Cardinal his senior season.
The heart of Cal's all-time Big Game defense is in the linebacking corps where Les Richter and Matt Hazeltine set a rugged tone for Cal's the stingy defenses of Pappy Waldorf's era. Richter keyed a 7-7 tie with Stanford in 1950 by stopping one drive with an interception at the 2-yard-line and another with a 15-yard sack deep in Cal territory. He also kicked well in Cal's 20-7 win in 1951.
Hazeltine intercepted a pair of passes and then recovered a Stanford fumble which set up Cal's tying TD in the 21-21 game in 1953. Earlier in his career, he helped hold Stanford to just 78 rushing yards in a 20-7 victory. As a junior, he pushed Stanford around on the other side of the line while the Bears rushed for 351 yards in a 26-0 rout in '52.
Several decades later, Ron Rivera and Hardy Nickerson carried on that linebacker legacy in the Big Game. Rivera had four Big Game appearances which included the 1982 amazing Cal win and finished with a pair of sacks against the Cardinal. Nickerson keyed the biggest upset in Big Game history when he recorded 16 tackles in Cal's 17-11 win in 1986. In all, Nickerson recorded 42 tackles against Stanford in his four-year career.
Bob Reinhard did it all for the Bears in 1940 and '41, playing both ways on the line and earning first team All-America honors both years. However, he was most remembered for his defensive play against Stanford and Frankie Albert while helping the Bears to a 16-0 upset of the Indians. In at game, he held the famed Albert to a minus 5.7 yards per carry and blocked a punt. One of the great comebacks in Big Game history was keyed by defensive tackle Sherman White in 1969. He intercepted a Jim Plunkett pass and returned it to the Stanford 21-yard-line to set up Cal's first TD after the Bears trailed 17-0. Eventually, the Bears lost 29-28, but White was the key factor in helping Cal challenge a 7-2-1 Stanford team. A year later, White helped Cal to a 22-14 upset of Rose Bowl-bound Stanford.
A player who enjoyed a long professional career on the offensive line, Ed White earned a spot on Cal's all-time Big Game defensive front. He started three years from 1966 to '68 and keyed a 26-3 upset over Stanford his junior season with a stout defensive effort.
Regan Upshaw was a constant force in three Big Game starts from 1993 to '95, helping the Bears to a pair of victories in those games. Handling the placekicking duties for the Big Game team is Jim "Truck" Cullom. Known as "The Toe" during his time at Cal, Cullom not only provided the winning margin of victory in the 1947 and '48 games, but blocked a possible tying PAT attempt to salvage a 7-6 Cal victory in that '48 game to give the Bears a Rose Bowl berth.
The punter on Cal's Big Game team is Ryan Longwell as he saw a lot of action during his four years from 1993 to '96. He boomed a 60-yarder in his final Big Game last season while averaging 48.5 yards on six punts in '96.
While there may have been some hard choices among the players on the all-time Big Game team, the decision about the coach was a slam dunk. Pappy Waldorf figures as the most successful coach in Big Game history, having posted a 7-1-2 record during his tenure from 1947-56. Three different times, he used Big Game victories as a springboard to Rose Bowl berths.