After 15 big games representing Cal as a player, coach and broadcaster, Troy Taylor will be on the Stanford side for the first time when the Cardinal coach takes on the Bears Saturday at Stanford Stadium (3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
“It’s going to be a little strange,” Taylor said. “I think once the game launches it will feel pretty normal to go into some sort of competition mode, but yeah, it will definitely be a different experience.”
Taylor was Cal’s quarterback from 1986 to 1989 and started two big games, which ended in a tie in 1988 and a loss in 1989. He earned the title of the program’s all-time leading passer with 8,126 yards.
He quickly turned his attention to coaching and coached receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends at Cal from 1996 to 1999, even serving as the team’s recruiting coordinator in 1999. When he After leaving coaching, he worked as an analyst on Cal’s radio broadcasts from 2005-11.
“Just being a part of Cal for so long and having such a love for the university and what it has given me, I will always have a lot of gratitude for the university, the program there , and I will always love Cal,” Taylor said. said. “Now, being on the other side, here’s my family – the Stanford Cardinal – and I’m excited to be able to participate in a battle. »
Taylor’s playing career featured two of the most memorable games in the rivalry, which was played 125 times on the football field. As a freshman, Taylor was sidelined with a broken jaw when 1-9 Cal upset 16th-ranked Stanford in the final game for coach Joe Kapp, who knew he was fired after the season. Taylor’s junior year, when he made his first start against the Cardinal, Stanford’s Tuan Van Le blocked a 20-yard field goal at the end to preserve a 19–19 tie – the last tie in history of the Big Game.
“I remember neither team really knew what to do,” Taylor said of the tie. “Because usually your memories of the Big Game my freshman year are Joe Kapp being carried off the field, it was a huge upset and everyone was on the field and you’re celebrating and you’re running with the ax and it’s just great energy. And if you lose the game, you go quietly and you’re not really excited. So once we all realized it was a tie and there wouldn’t be a celebration for either team, we just left and left. It was very strange.
But Taylor had another strong memory of the tie, and it wasn’t something that happened between the lines. He remembers looking at the south end zone and seeing a fight between the mascots, Oski the bear and the Stanford tree.
“It was a legit fight,” Taylor said. “They were trying to hurt each other. It was between sets and I remember Oski was trying to rip the tree apart and I remember Oski was pointing his finger – one of his four fingers – at the tree, like, “That’s not finished”, you know? I’m like, that’s weird. I lived in a cartoon world or something.
And now, Taylor will experience the rivalry from the other side.
“Obviously every game is really important, but there’s a different energy around the Bay Area, and people are a little more interested in this game,” Taylor said. “There’s no other rivalry like Cal-Stanford where I think the universities have as much respect for each other and what they stand for, and are obviously so close, and we had some wild games that took place here. People on the national scene still remember The Play. So it’s exciting to be a part of it.