Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If you haven’t seen the Aggies play, now’s the time


From page A2 | October 05, 2012 |

WINNING AND LOSING … longtime Aggie football fans got spoiled over the years as UC Davis went nearly four decades without a losing season and regularly earned a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs … in fact, Aggie fans came to think of those extra playoff games almost as part of the regular season … in some years there were as many as three playoff games tacked on to a 10-game schedule, and more often than not those playoff games were on Toomey Field, an added bonus for Aggie addicts …

My, how times have changed … with the step up to Division I-AA (now the awkwardly named Football Championship Subdivision), it’s been 10 long years since the Aggies last tasted playoff glory … and it’s not likely to happen this year either as UCD breaks into its new home in the Big Sky Conference, where there’s not a patsy on the schedule (with all due respect to my sister Patsy) … it’s not that the Aggies are not competitive with everyone in the Big Sky, it’s just that putting it all on the line week in and week out leaves little room for error, and it’ll be a while before the UCD season regularly ends with more wins than losses and the playoff bids start coming again …

Yes, last Saturday the Aggies did earn their first conference victory over winless Cream of Weber State, which at 0-5 may have to change its nickname to Mildcats instead of Wildcats … while the Aggies will take their wins where they find them, the schedule does get decidedly more difficult the rest of the way … now, if you haven’t seen the Aggies play this year, this would be the time to do it … powerful Montana State, which has won a national championship at the I-AA level and is almost certain to once again be a playoff participant, will be at Aggie Stadium on Saturday afternoon … a win here will send a clear message to the rest of the Big Sky that the Aggies are quickly becoming comfortable in their new conference home … a win also would build some momentum for the difficult second half of the season and would keep alive UCD’s extremely slim playoff hopes …

SPEAKING OF PLAYOFF GAMES … for me, one of the most memorable UCD playoff games came on a foggy morning in late November of 1977 as East Coast power Lehigh came to Toomey Field for an NCAA semifinal game, with the winner just one step away from the national championship … the Aggies were undefeated, 11-0, led by a brilliant junior quarterback named Mike Moroski … already that season the Aggies had routed Nevada, 37-21, before 12,800 fans on Toomey Field, a crowd that remains to this day the largest ever for an Aggie home game …

As a young sports writer at this very same newspaper for the Lehigh game, I bumped into legendary Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian in the chilly press box as he grabbed a doughnut and coffee before the game started … this is the game where Parseghian, who was doing color commentary on the game for ABC’s national telecast, famously referred to Davis as being located in the “San Joaquin Valley.” …

And yes, it was a 10 a.m. kickoff — the earliest in UCD history — to accommodate an East Coast audience … the tule fog was so thick during the first half that you could barely see the ball when someone punted it more than 10 feet into the air … hey, anything to get the program on national television … unfortunately for Aggie faithful everywhere, Lehigh prevailed, 39-30, and went on to win the Division II championship the next week with a 33-0 rout of Jacksonville State …

CALENDAR CHECK … last week’s Aggie-Weber State game was billed as the annual “Oktoberfest” shindig, which is odd since the game was played on Sept. 29 … either way, no Aggie Lager was allowed inside the stadium …

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net





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