It's the last matchup of the first round.
And it's a good one.
First, however, a bracket update for you, through games finished on or before 1/12/08:
Now, we have the leader of the 2008-09 basketball team versus the leader of the 2008 football team. One may be going pro, the other nearly gave up his scholarship to aid the team.
Now, you could fault Taylor for getting his scholarship back. But remember that if it had been used this year, we would have had eight freshmen or redshirt freshmen on scholarship for this season. That would have inevitably forced Bennett's hand down the road - either survive a massive senior class four years from now, redshirt a bunch of guys, or hope that some stay and some transfer. Plus, there just wasn't a player that fit our needs. So Tony did the right thing for someone who was prepared to do the right thing for him. He gave Taylor his scholarship back.
Regardless of whether or not you're happy with Taylor's play this season, you have to admit there's some serious talent there. In stretches of both the Cal and Stanford game he decided to take over the offense. And it has worked. If not for Patrick Christopher, the Cougs could have come away with a sweep last weekend. I really believe that. He simply dominated Stanford in scoring and assist to turnover ratio. And you can't deny that Rochestie embodies the principles that Dick and Tony Bennett set forth as they built this program. It's not an easy thing to do, but certainly the right thing. Taylor Rochestie is everything we love about this basketball team.
To get an idea of how great an individual Brandon Gibson is, watch the video below. It would have been so easy to be angry or upset that he passed on the NFL draft last year. Especially when his numbers this season were limited by a new offense and a struggling football team. But Gibson handled it with class, and led by example. It's faith like that which led us to the win over the Huskies and allowed this team to avoid the label of "worst Pac-10 team ever". We should be grateful that Brandon Gibson was a part of our team. One of the true class acts in college football.
Overall, these are two incredible individuals, worthy of Coug of the Year. I feel like an idiot for matching them up against each other in the first round. Still - it's in your hands to decide who moves on.
[Hat tip to KXLY, the ABC affiliate in Spokane, for our two videos]
#6 Taylor Rochestie
#11 Brandon Gibson