Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave on Saturday will be involved in a Cal-Oregon contest for the first time since he was knocked out of a game in Berkeley as the Ducks’ starting quarterback 30 years ago.
Cal head coach Justin Wilcox and Bears defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon have faced their alma mater, Oregon, a few times before, without much luck as coaches, but dominance when they were on the Ducks’ side of things as players.
It won’t matter much in Saturday’s 4 p.m. Cal-Oregon game in Berkeley that the three graduated from Oregon with un-football-like majors – accounting and finance (Musgrave), political science (Sirmon) and anthropology (Wilcox). But the reminder of their previous Cal-Oregon encounters may be instructive.
Sirmon, a linebacker, and Wilcox, a defensive back, were Oregon teammates from 1996 through 1999, and they went 2-0 in games against Cal, with Sirmon intercepting a Kyle Boller pass in the Ducks’ 24-19 win at Cal in the 1999 matchup.
But Wilcox has lost his past seven games against Oregon as a coach, including 0-3 as the Bears’ head man, losing all three by double-digit margins. Sirmon has been along for the last two of those losses.
It's new for Musgrave. Despite being in coaching for 24 years (mostly in the NFL), Saturday will be the first time Musgrave will coach against Oregon.
"It's real special," Musgrave said this week in the video atop the story. "There's going to be nostalgia there, even though it was over 30 years ago that I wore that uniform."
A four-year starting quarterback at Oregon, where he set the school record for career passing yards, Musgrave went 1-2 in the three games against Cal.
As a redshirt freshman in 1987, Musgrave lost to Cal 20-6, and the Bears and Ducks did not meet in 1988. Musgrave threw three touchdown passes in a 35-19 win over the Bears in 1989, but the 1990 game at Cal is the one that sticks out.
Musgrave was the Pac-10’s first-team all-conference quarterback in 1990, but you would not have known it from his game at Cal that year.
The Ducks lost the game 28-3, and Musgrave went 10-for-29 with an interception.
But injury was added to insult when he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter on a big hit by Cal defensive lineman Rhett Hall.
Musgrave produced one of the best quotes ever uttered by a coach -- “He planted me like he thought it was Arbor Day” – when asked last winter whether he recalled that game.
"Yes, I do," he said in the video below. "Rhett Hall, who was probably coached by Rod Marinelli at the time, rolling out to the left, and uh, it felt like it was late, maybe it wasn't, it felt like it was awfully late after the ball had been thrown, but I remember him landing on me. He planted me like he thought it was Arbor Day out there in the turf. Then finding my way up to the X-ray room in this stadium that I call home now. Not the best of days for an old Oregon Duck quarterback at the time."
Wilcox, for his part, says his thoughts about his alma mater never come up when he and the Bears prepare to face the Ducks. That's what a head coach is supposed to say, I suppose.
.Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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