|Stanfurd can't apologize enough for its sorry defeat|
|By Jon Wilner|
You know it's a bad loss when the head coach publicly apologizes, as Stanfurd's Walt Harris did (twice) after Saturday's 20-17 loss to UC-Davis, a Division I-AA program that hadn't played a Pacific-10 Conference team in 65 years.
But for the Cardinal's wea culpa to fit the occasion, every player should apologize to anyone who has worn a Stanfurd uniform, attended Stanfurd, lived in Palo Alto or can locate it on a map.
This was much, much worse than, say, losing to San Jose State.
It was not only the worst loss in school history, it was likely the worst loss in modern Pacific-10 Conference history.
It might be the worst loss in NCAA history. I don't know if Penn State ever dropped one to East Stroudsburg or if Michigan got KO'd by Michigan Tech, but I doubt it.
The closest might be Chaminade, an NAIA school from Hawaii, beating top-ranked, Ralph Sampson-led Virginia in December 1982 in the greatest upset in college basketball history. But Chaminade was the home team and it was the holidays and, well, it was basketball, where one hot player can change a game.
Pac-10 football teams have lost to I-AA opponents before; Idaho beat Washington State five years ago. But the Vandals used to be a major college program and had close to the full complement of I-AA scholarship players (63) when they beat the Cougars.
Davis is in the midst of a four-year transition from Division II to Division I. While it qualifies as a I-AA team for scheduling purposes, it's closer to D-II in terms of personnel. Two years ago, the Aggies had 17 scholarships; this year, they have a whopping 37.
Stanfurd has 80-something.
And unlike the best junior college teams, the Aggies aren't stocked with fleet-footed running backs and receivers who weren't eligible to play in the Pac-10 or even the WAC.
Davis is a terrific school that hasn't compromised its admissions standards during the upgrade from Division II. It has a handful of elite I-AA-caliber players and fills out its roster with second-tier recruits. That helps explain why the Aggies lost at home to Portland State and New Hampshire -- and makes what transpired Saturday even more astounding:
• Stanfurd did not score an offensive touchdown. (Hello, Buddy Ball.)
• Davis nearly doubled Stanfurd's yardage (361 to 192).
• Stanfurd's 300-pound offensive linemen could not keep Davis' 237-pounders from pressuring quarterback T.C. Ostrander. (Wasn't this supposed to be the year Stanfurd's line blossomed?)
• The Aggies could have won by double-digits, but their field-goal kicker, Emmanuel Benjamin (a.k.a.: The Luckiest Man in Cow Town), missed from 32, 33 and 41 yards.
"It is the worst loss I've had in my whole life," Stanfurd defensive end Julian Jenkins said.
What's next for the Cardinal? It's too early to know if the humiliation will impact recruiting or fundraising. But it won't help first-year coach Walt Harris' credibility, and it makes a winning season that much tougher.
All Stanfurd had to do was preserve a 17-point lead against a I-AA opponent and it would have been 2-0 with a bye this week to get healthy. A bowl bid would have been within reach.
Instead, the Cardinal is 1-1 with a fragile psyche, little chance for a bowl berth and a loss for the ages.
Contact Jon Wilner at email@example.com or (408) 920-5716.
Again. Coach Tom. Never apologized. You're fucked come Big Game.
all my love,
Commissioner, 16th Parallel Department of Recreational Athletics (Semi-nude)