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On the ground in Berkeley

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Yes, it was a week ago, but better late than never

Mississippi v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In 2015, when Ole Miss and Cal agreed to play a home-and-home series, I was immediately on board for traveling thousands of miles and using multiple vacation days to watch Ole Miss inevitably lose to a team it should probably beat. Two years later, there I stood, watching the prophesy come to pass.

The game, as you would like to never remember, was a gross affair, with neither team able to sustain anything that looked impressive. Only a pair of 70-yard touchdown passes from Shea Patterson provided anything memorable, which will be blocked out in my mind by offensive line play from Ole Miss that could generously be described as matador-ish.

But the point of the trip for me wasn’t to watch Ole Miss careen into a ravine and holler about the reasons why that happened. It was to experience a game well beyond SEC country and use it as an excuse to spend a week in Northern California, living the fancy life of 70 degrees ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

I spent Friday in San Francisco with family, cramming in as many tourist things as the hours would allow. Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz, which will serve as Ole Miss’ new campus in 2018, were all crossed off the list. However, these were just things to occupy the mind before heading into the teeth of the ol’ GOT DANG LIBERAL AGENDA.

Based on an extensive survey of the Cal couple sitting by me on the BART, the easiest way to get to Berkeley from San Francisco for a game was via the very form of public transportation we were on. As a bonus, our car was treated to a wonderful original song and dance number performed by two of San Francisco’s finest original song and dance artists who operate solely within the BART system.

The most enjoyable part of the show was that the first artist got on the car at one of the Oakland stops, and announced to everyone that he was about to provide us with free entertainment. However, it wasn’t until the NEXT STOP that the second artist arrived, wheeling in a single speaker (and thus the music) on a cart that looked like it normally transported an oxygen tank. A WELL-OILED MACHINE, THAT DUO (not to mention they made about $5 worth of donations).

After getting off at the Berkeley stop, the aforementioned Cal couple decided to be the nicest people alive that day and invited us to walk with them from the BART station through parts of campus and to the area of town where restaurants and bars were plentiful. As we walked through campus, they rattled off a number of places to go, as well as providing a general sense of where everything was.

We even walked through the plaza where the protesting/screaming/street fightin’ took place in recent weeks. Alas, on this day, no one was out there engaged in the business of shoving agendas down throats. Just students going about a normal Saturday, like almost any other day, but NARRATIVE and such.

I would mention that wonderful couple by name here, but I can only remember one of their names because I do not take notes due to personal policy (NOTE: I am not reviewing this policy). If for some completely insane reason they ever read this, thank you again, and it was a great Saturday minus the last 2+ quarters of the game).

Whether it’s for a football game or you’re just passing through, I highly recommend walking around Cal’s campus. For starters, it’s 70 degrees and sunny, which is a good time to be outside and the most important factor. But then there’s the whole thing about TREES AHOY, many of which are redwoods and quite pleasing to the eye.

As for the Telegraph Ave./Bancroft Way area (a part of the city and home to many of the bars/restaurants) that runs into campus, if you’ve been to a college town, you’ve seen this area before. However, on this particular Saturday, Berkeley served up a gentleman sitting on a sidewalk who would periodically yell, “HELL YEAH” about as loud as Ole Miss PA announcer Glen Waddle shrieks, “FIRST DOWN, OLE MISS” into his microphone (related, TURN DOWN HIS MICROPHONE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS DECENT AND GOOD IN OUR WRECKED WORLD).

While I really can’t stress enough how loud this guy was for hours, and he never went hoarse, it became as familiar as an hourly church bell toll. That is, if the bells tolled every 20 seconds and got louder with each toll.

Stepping away from our timekeeper, the great thing about Pacific time is that most of your #sprots are done early in the evening. For instance, if you were locked in to the Mississippi State/LSU game and on the West Coast, fam, you could’ve walked away from that at 6:30 and had the rest of the night to do whatever you wanted.

Imagine a land in which sports don’t keep you up until midnight or beyond, AND you can do things after them. I won’t lie, it was incredibly disorienting, intoxicating, and I RUE THE DAY I GOT ON A PLANE TO COME BACK TO CENTRAL TIME.

Eventually, it was time to make the hike up Bancroft Way to Cal’s stadium, which rests on a fault line and against the side of a hill (pls do not have an earthquake while in this stadium). FUN FACT: While most Ole Miss fans back home were wondering how they could stay awake into the second half, it was 7 p.m. in Berkeley, the sun was slowly setting, and it was 68 degrees. PACIFIC TIME FOREVER.

The stadium, while perfectly fine and in a gorgeous setting, especially with the sun going down, isn’t itself a PIECE OF EYE CANDY AND KABILLION DOLLAR EXPANSION WITH THE GIANT HD SCREENS I NEED, PAWL, but it serves its purpose for a fanbase that isn’t overly concerned with Cal football. If Cal wins, great, but if they lose, that’s fine, it’s still gonna be 70 degrees and sunny tomorrow, and oh, they have other things to entertain themselves (I WANT YOUR LIFE, YOU PEOPLE WITH ADEQUATE PERSPECTIVE).

I’ll avoid going into the game because haven’t the people suffered enough? Despite the maddening loss we knew was coming two years ago, a game day in Berkeley is something everyone should experience, including all of Northern California.

Even if you were to attend a game and lose, you should have plans to roar down the coast and spend the next few days in places like Monterey and Carmel. There, my friends, the sunshine, 70 degrees, and beaches will make you forget that Ole Miss couldn’t handle four-to-five-man pressures against a meaty-part-of-the-curve Pac-12 team.

I’m sure that will sort itself out this weekend.