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Twelve Days of Pac-12: California

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The Pac-12 is almost here, and to ring in the new conference, we're going to take a look at the schools of the Pac-12 and share some interesting facts and history.  Today we'll look at the University of California, Berkeley.

Established: 1868
First Football Season: 1886
Varsity Sports: 27
Football Stadium (built/capacity): California Memorial Stadium (1923/71,799 pre-renovation, ~63,000 post-renovation)
Basketball/multipurpose Stadium (built/capacity): Haas Pavilion (1933 as Men's Gym/11,877)
Football Conference championships (Claimed National Championships): 14 -- last: 2006 (5)
Total NCAA Team Championships (last): 31 (Women's Swimming and Diving -- 2011)
Most Successful Team Sport: Rugby, 26 claimed national championships


Did you know? Cal was a founding member of the original western athletic conference, the Pacific Coast Conference, along with Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington. With the Huskies, California has been the longest continuous member of this conference and will celebrate it's 100th anniversary in the conference in 2015.

History with Stanford: Where to even start?  As two of the three largest research universities in the Bay Area, Cal and Stanford have had a natural rivalry since Cal first invited Stanford to a spring football game in San Francisco in 1892.  What defines the rivalry is, of course, 1982's "The Play," a controversial game-winning touchdown featuring a crowded football field, questionable multi-lateral passes, confused referees and conference officials, a trombone, and a crazed radio announcer.  But beyond Big Game, Cal and Stanford have had their fair share of memorable games in almost every sport.  There have been many instances where Stanford and Cal have played for conference championships in the final games of their respective seasons, and in some instances, have played each other in NCAA national championship games.

With all of that said, Cal and Stanford enjoy what is a actually a pretty amicable rivalry.  Most people outside of the conference recognize that the two schools are rivals, but tend to equate it to their respective rivalries.  This isn't an unfriendly rivalry that has nasty undertones to it.  Rather, it's much similar to Harvard-Yale.  There is no fighting in the stands between fans.  There are no vitriolic Letters to the Editor about either school in the San Francisco Chronicle.  There's no Hatfield-McCoy relationship between either school.  In fact, it's not at all uncommon for alumni of both schools to be friends or even married to each other after graduation.

One of the most interesting sports-related stories between fans of both schools has to do with Lily and Preston Becker, as retold in a Sports Illustrated story late last year.  Lily, a Stanford alum, lost her father in the same flight that claimed the father of former offensive lineman Andrew Phillips.  Preston, a Cal alum, as a show of support to both Lily and Andrew, attended almost every Stanford football game, home and away.  While he didn't sit in the Stanford section for Big Game, his ability to overcome his dislike of Stanford for 51 weeks out of the year isn't unusual for fans of either school.

In the end, Stanford and Cal have enjoyed a rivalry that is unusual in college athletics, and it's one that will continue for many years to come.