Who can bear to watch? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Who can bear to watch?

Steve Yingling

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I shouldn’t be saying this, but the California Golden Bears football team is coming to South Lake Tahoe on Saturday.

But it’s a nonpublicized appearance so the 13th-ranked Golden Bears won’t actually be here practicing for their season-opening game at Air Force on Sept. 4 (don’t mind my incessant eye-winking).

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Don’t let this gossip slip when you head over to your next-door neighbor’s house to borrow their chain saw because he or she might leak it to the local radio stations.

And if the tyrannical NCAA should ever find out, the Golden Bears might wind up like Jeremy Bloom – skiing in a camp somewhere in Chile.

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If the NCAA should be browsing through the Tahoe Daily Tribune Web site or one of its officials should purchase a newspaper from a rack outside Raley’s today, Cal might have to cancel their one-day vacation – I mean practice – near Lake Tahoe’s pristine waters.

For what I’m not sure, but the NCAA certainly has some penalty in store for Cal: perhaps the Golden Bears won’t be allowed to go to the Rose Bowl for another 45 years.

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Or could it be that the Golden Bears’ coach Jeff Tedford plans to put in some gadget plays that he’ll unveil Oct. 9 when Cal visits top-ranked USC? Shouldn’t someone let Tedford know that USC alums outnumber Cal alums here at least 3 to 1?

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The latest word is that unbeknownst to the Golden Bears and the NCAA, the South Tahoe Quarterback Club will sell concessions during Saturday’s tentative 11 a.m.-to-3 p.m. practice. The money is earmarked for the club, but club members shouldn’t be startled if an NCAA representative pulls up at 2:59 p.m. in a 2004 Corvette with vanity license plates to get the governing body of college sports’ cut.

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Cal has already informed the Tribune that coaches and players won’t be able to talk to the media after this once-in-a-lifetime practice.

Why, you ask? Because Cal players are worldly and understand that the sooner they leave STHS there are activities that they can do in and around Lake Tahoe that they can’t do in Berkeley.

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South Tahoe High’s Vikings gave up a home scrimmage for Cal on this day and the Golden Bears won’t even be allowed to show the local boys any pointers afterward. Shouldn’t the Golden Bears cruise over to Truckee in their team bus and pick up the Vikings to show their gratitude?

No, this would be construed as the worst possible NCAA rule violation: courtesy and goodwill have no place in big-time college athletics.

Epilogue: Last week, California reportedly threatened to pull out of a practice at STHS after the Tahoe Daily Tribune ran a story informing the public of the unique event.

The 500-pound NCAA rule book reportedly contains a section on schools’ responsibility to not publicize off-campus practices.

“Per NCAA rules we can’t comment on it … there are very strict rules when it comes to something like this,” said California Sports Information employee Herb Benenson.

NCAA members must not use these off-campus practice sites as a means of recruiting high school athletes as well.

California, obviously, hasn’t promoted the practice one bit – the Tribune hasn’t either but has informed the public of the practice. It is newsworthy and we have the right to inform our readers about it. The Golden Bears are clean and now they can focus on winning the Pac-10.

As for the Tribune, the NCAA can’t be pleased with this outlaw newspaper. The organization just might pull our NCAA Skiing Championship credentials for 2004-05.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or syingling@tahoedailytribune.com