This reversal of faith certainly qualifies as welcome relief, yet it's regrettably painful. But I've given up on UC Berkeley returning to the Rose Bowl football game in my lifetime.

Go Bears? No-go Bears.

I've waited patiently for 50 years — Holy Oski! — for Cal to get back to Pasadena on New Year's Day. My patience has run out along with my enduring faith. I've come to the conclusion Cal is a second-tier bowl team, and that's that.

Cal's last Rose Bowl appearance ended the 1958 season — a 38-12 loss to Iowa. The Bears' half-century Rose Bowl drought is the longest among Pacific-10 Conference schools, excluding Arizona, which didn't join until 1978.

After humiliating losses the past two weekends, Cal has no chance of playing in this next Rose Bowl, which will be the rotating national championship game. Cal players can buy New Year's roses for their mothers.

Oregon and USC dragged the Bears back to reality by a combined 72-6 score. Once again, Cal teased its long-suffering, endlessly loyal alumni with great expectations then brought them more heartbreak.

My decision to abandon Cal occurred last year, however, when it lost 35-27 at Maryland then blamed the defeat on its "body clock" being on West Coast time. You never hear USC using body clock as an excuse. That's when I became convinced Cal wouldn't overtake USC for a very long time.


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The Rose Bowl was Jeff Tedford's primary goal when he began coaching Cal in 2002. His secondary goal, even more far-fetched, was a national championship, which Cal hasn't claimed since the 1937 season, when it last won a Rose Bowl game — 13-0 over Alabama.

Tedford nearly had a Rose Bowl invite in 2004, but it went to Texas after Longhorns coach Mack Brown — shamefully, but successfully — lobbied voters into awarding him the bid.

But Tedford has nothing to be embarrassed about. He took over, arguably, the nation's worst major-college program in '02 and quickly made Cal respectable. Cal since has played in six straight bowls of lesser magnitude, unless it truly believes the bridesmaid Holiday Bowl is anything special.

Tedford will make it seven consecutive bowls this season, but it's clear his high aspirations for Cal have stagnated in Strawberry Canyon. For his once-promising program should be well beyond becoming Duck soup, then being trampled by the Trojan horse a week later.

USC controls the Pac-10, and that won't change as long as Pete Carroll coaches the men of Troy. Carroll annually reaps one of the nation's best recruiting classes, while Tedford gets respectable recruits on the average. And now he faces additional recruiting pressure from UCLA, Washington and Stanford — all three programs on the upgrade — not to mention the nettlesome Oregon schools.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, Tedford is the right coach for Cal for all the right reasons. Let's face it, self-flogging Cal alums don't mind finishing 7-5 if there is a bowl win of any magnitude at the end. Old Blues are conditioned not to expect the Rose Bowl. Can you blame them?

But 7-5 is light years better than 1-10, Tom Holmoe's record before Tedford inherited his mess. And under Tedford's guidance, the Bears have made a considerable leap in the classroom as well as the polls, with a current graduation rate of 88 percent. And Cal one day will have a renovated Memorial Stadium — The House That Tedford Rebuilt.

Though I'm not a Cal alumnus, I've been emotionally involved with Cal sports for 60 years and professionally involved for 45 years. I'm a huge fan of Tedford, a good man whose inherit integrity elevated him to eternal "Boy Scout" in the eyes of Mike Bellotti, under whom Tedford coached at Oregon.

But a rose is a rose "... just not at Cal.

Dave Newhouse's columns appear Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, usually on the Metro page. Know any Good Neighbors? Phone 510-208-6466 or e-mail dnewhouse@bayareanewsgroup.com.