Killing time in a Las Vegas hotel room, a 21-year-old quarterback for Fresno State suddenly remembered his pal Kevin Moen was playing.
“I was just waiting for our game,” Jeff Tedford said, who on Nov. 20, 1982, was preparing for UNLV, “and I wanted to see what Kevin was doing.”
From his TV set, Tedford saw that Moen and Cal were down 20-19 to their then-Pac-10 Conference Bay Area rival Stanford, with a mere four seconds left to play.
But “play” Moen and his teammates did.
A Stanford squib kick and five desperate Cal laterals later — the final of which was to Tedford’s buddy — and Moen was trampling a confused Cardinal trombonist and into the end zone.
Cal won. And Moen’s heroics at games end resulted in one of the most — if not the most — famed plays in college football history.
“It was pretty cool to watch him do that,” said Tedford, the coach who lead Cal into the 155th Big Game on Saturday. “But at that point, you never really knew what kind of impact or what kind of history that it [would] make.”
It’s been 30 years since that miracle at Memorial Stadium, and even more since Tedford and Moen last played on a gridiron together as high school teammates in the 1979 North-South Shrine game at the Rose Bowl.
Moen and Tedford both represented the South then. And for those wondering who won that Shrine game, Tedford gave a clear answer.
“Well, [John] Elway was playing quarterback for them, and I was playing quarterback for us,” Tedford said. “So, you could probably figure that out.”
But at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Tedford — in his 11th season as coach for the Bears — won’t only be calling plays.
“Every year, there’s always a history lesson that goes into the Big Game,” Tedford said in respect to the looming matchup with Pac-12 rival Stanford. “And we make sure everybody appreciates what it stands for.”
And Tedford’s sophomore tight end Richard Rodgers, is one who understands. His father, Richard Rodgers Sr., had a hand — or two — in that 1982 Cardinal confrontation.
“I’ve heard from some people that he actually called it,” Rodgers said of his father. “A lot of people had given up on the game, and he was in the huddle on special teams and was pulling people on the field that weren’t even on special teams.”
Yet irregardless of who called what, Moen played the role of hero that night.
“It was exciting when I got to Cal, to bump into Kevin for the first time,” Tedford said. “I thought we could be able to reminisce about not only the game, but of course the prominence of that play — ‘The Play.’”