In case you missed it last Saturday night because you were under a rock, already in bed or catching up on “Stranger Things” on Netflix, the California Golden Bears pulled off a stunning upset over No. 11 Texas. The victory wasn’t official until about 11:40 pm PT, but after the whistle, ecstatic Cal fans rushed the field to share in the celebration.
How did Cal do it? It could have been the 396 yards quarterback Davis Webb threw for, going 27-40 on the night. Or maybe it was the four touchdown passes he tossed to three different receivers. Or the rushing touchdown he added. Maybe it was running back Vic Enwere’s 18 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns or Chad Hansen’s 12 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Or maybe it was the Cal defense, which played with panache and caused two interceptions that turned into scores.
Or maybe it was something else altogether — something that caused the football gods to intervene. Cal’s associate head coach Garret Chachere shed some light on the superstition that could have played a role.
“So basically I was ready for the game and I needed to wear a hat, and usually the equipment people leave a hat for me, unlike the away games where you just ask them for one,” Chachere told TSFJ after practice on Tuesday. “I was going to walk down to the training room, but I didn’t really know if I wanted to wear blue or white or yellow, and then I saw this baseball cap that was on the back of my door, that I really don’t like, and it was gray and it matched what I had on. So I said, ‘I’m going to wear that one.’ But then I was like, ‘No, I hate that one. I don’t like the way it looks on me, I don’t like the way it feels.’ But then I looked at it again and was like, ‘Yeah, I’m wearing that one.’
“Something told me this was the hat. It was time — it was this hat’s time. It was our time — me and the hat’s time, it was our time together.”
Not many know about Chachere’s hat superstition, but the running backs coach shared it with TSFJ when the Bears were preparing for their game in Australia.
That hat ostensibly helped the Bears beat Hawaii 51-31 in the first Sydney Cup. Chachere then wore it in San Diego for Cal’s game against the Aztecs, where it didn’t have quite the same effect.
When asked what happened to the hat from Sydney that saw Cal defeat Hawaii but then suffered through a dismal first half against San Diego State, Chacheree was quick to respond.
“At halftime, I don’t know what happened to it. I gave it to Dan. I told him if things aren’t going well, I need another color hat. So when I got in there at halftime, there was already a blue one sitting in there. And we made a comeback; if Davis’ throw to Chad was six inches closer, I would be wearing the blue hat.”
As for the current lucky gray hat, it returned home safely Saturday night despite the raucous celebration on Kabam Field.
“It’s right next to my bed, literally. It was on the ground, and I picked it up and put it on the nightstand. When I look over at night I want to see it looking back at me.”
So was it the Webb-Hansen connection that led Cal to victory over the Longhorns? Was it Enwere’s churning legs? Or was it a revived Cal defense, making key stops and forcing turnovers?
Or was it just Mercury in retrograde?
Either way, the current lucky hat will have a chance to prove its worth against Arizona State this weekend as Cal takes on Arizona State in Tempe. But if it doesn’t pull its weight by halftime, Chachere is open to suggestions.
“So if the gray hat doesn’t work by halftime, what color should I go to?” the Cal coached asked.
Chachere admitted he hasn’t tried yellow yet.
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.