NCAA

The Big Game never approached 'Big-dom'

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The Big Game never approached 'Big-dom'

Stanfords 21-3 victory over California in the 283rd Big Game was a pretty desultory affair by any definition except maybe Stepfan Taylors.

And Cals performance was particularly pewter-gray. Its offense, spotty in the best of time, left barely a drop of ink, and was so ineffectual that the defense, which was acceptable, couldnt actually make a dent at the other end.

As a result, Jeff Tedford got another turn in the pan, because there is nothing quite like never having a chance in the Big Game to agitate the alums who influence these decisions. He wont get fired unless one of those alums ponies up a big enough package to buy his last three years out, but he continues to lose support across the board.

Thats the politics, baby, as Richard Pryor used to say.

But having a coach on the hot seat on October 20th feels as hollow as anything else connected to this new Big Game tradition. The Pacific 12 Conference moved the game to this completely alien time, and though this seems a lot like complaining about the soot after the fire has been extinguished, its still difficult to take the game, its results or its ramifications seriously.

RELATED: Stanford dominates Cal 21-3 in 115th Big Game

And there are ramifications above and beyond just Tedfords still-chimerical jeopardy. Stanford has national aspirations that dont feel like they were particularly advanced by Saturdays win. Cal didnt have a game upon which it can build for the rest of the schedule Utah, Washington and the two Oregons. The new Memorial Stadium has still not been properly blooded by a game in bad weather.

There was an artificiality about this Big Game Week, as baseball crowded it out of the attention it rightly expected. There was no proper buildup, and even the on-campus traditions seemed a bit too, well, stand-alone. The Big Game is not a campus-only event, and frankly has been powered mostly by the alums for most of its history.

Oh, the schools tried, but traditions do not take dents lightly. This was a necessity logistically, but it still ended being a failure.

The game came and went Saturday but it never even approached Big-dom. It will be little known nor long remembered. Stanford controlled the game but did not dominate. Cal held its own in the second half, but never got close to making it an argument. And the arguments about Tedfords security just fell flat, because there is too much season still to be negotiated.

2012 doesnt figure to be a great year in Berkeley (the Ursines have a decent chance to split and finish a deeply meh 5-7), but the Big Game is designed either to buoy the fan base or bury it. This does neither.

Nor does Stanford look ahead to Notre Dame and then a big-deal bowl game yet. The Cardinal already played Notre Dame, and are likely to finish either 8-4 or 9-3, with Oregon State the make-or-break game.

But the season is still going to be kind of a pffffffttt, because the big moment for both schools has already come, and gone. The Big Game may have taken one for the team the team being Larry Scott but it took more for the team than the team deserved.

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.