Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Bear Will Not Quit, The Bear Will Not Die

Cal Bear legend Joe Kapp was brought in to coach the Bears in 1982 after a couple of really disappointing seasons (which, naturally, coincided with my two years in Berkeley) under Roger Theder. Theder's reign as coach had begun with promise; the Bears reached a Bowl game (the Garden City Bowl, of which there were few) in his first year, but in 1980 and 1981 underachieved to a remarkable degree - posting 3-8 and 2-9 seasons when the talent was there for 7-4 or 8-3. I remember how excited folks were when Kapp was announced as the new coach - his enthusiasm was infectious, and it was easy (if foolish) to overlook the fact that he'd never coached a game in his life.

By far, 1982 was his best season. The Bears finished 7-4, not good enough for a bowl game, but more than enough to keep the Old Blues happy. On the bright side, Kapp brought the dark blue uniforms back to Cal, but on the flip side, was also responsible for the questionable bear paw helmet insignia. And of course, he will be forever remembered as being Coach when The Play happened. From there it was all downhill, but he closed out his coaching career with another stunning upset of Stanford in 1986 - a fine way for any Cal coach to wrap it up.

To this day, he remains one of the Bears' most enthusiastic backers. No doubt he yearns for the day when Cal returns to the Rose Bowl, where it hasn't played since he was quarterback.

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