Last January, a couple of hours before the Oakland Raiders hosted the Baltimore Ravens, I spent a few minutes with Jim Harbaugh, the Stanford coach who had come to watch his brother, John, wear the Big Cheese Headset on the Ravens' sideline.
My relationship with Jim is tricky. I covered him during his NFL days and have always admired him and enjoyed his company. But when he took a job presiding over the football program of my alma mater’s archrival, it was as if horns, a pitchfork and tail were superimposed onto his being.
"You don’t really hate us, do you?" Harbaugh asked when I brought up the rivalry that afternoon.
"I don’t hate you," I responded.
This weekend, I will literally scream my voice away trying to make a red-clad coach’s Saturday afternoon a miserable one as I stand in California Memorial Stadium with a blue-and-gold army of Harbaugh haters. I will do so without ambiguity and with the full knowledge that, unlike last year, my Golden Bears may not be able to pull the upset. Then again, as always, I believe – and I am comforted by the knowledge that I am far from alone.
Whether Cal defeats Stanford for the eighth time in nine seasons or sadly surrenders The Axe to the forces of Satan, I can guarantee that the good guys will win the party, as we always do. Until then, I’ll be getting my game face on – and Live Trippin' with you genteel folk, beginning Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.
So let’s spend a generous hour of real-time fun focusing on all things pro football – like which NFL job my old friend will be accepting in a few months – and distracting me from the only football game I really care about and the magic it sometimes summons.