Friday, October 14, 2011


First of all, women's volleyball (18-3, 4-2) has moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Big West Conference race, thanks to Cal Poly's five-set victory over UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night.

So the Gauchos, the Long Beach State and your Aggies share a crowded perch atop the Big West mountain. And with UC Davis competing in at the Walter Pyramid tonight, one team will emerge as the lone leader by this evening. Fans not heading to the 562 area code can (and should) follow the Aggie-49er volleyball action on CBS GameTracker. Match time is 7 p.m.

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Two of my sports have opted to use the Homecoming Week to bring their respective alumni back to campus. The women's lacrosse team hosts its Alumnae game tonight (Friday) under the lights of Aggie Stadium, while men's water polo will hold their version the following morning out at Schaal Aquatics Center. In both cases, the games provide a chance to celebrate recent accomplishments: women's lacrosse will hold a mini-ceremony honoring its NCAA statistical title (the Aggies led the nation in draw controls last spring), while men's water polo has brought back the nucleus of its 22-7 team from four years ago. That 2007 team was the last UC Davis men's water polo squad to reach the national top 10 until this year. In either case, former student-athletes may still attend their respective events by contacting the head coach.

Or if you want to watch past Aggies meet up with present ones, admission is free for both games. Quite often, I find it entertaining to see who still has some game. Now that I'm reaching the back end of my thirties, I take pride in seeing one of my contemporaries keeping up with the current whippersnappers.

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A handful of nominations for the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame have arrived in my mailbox during the last month or so. Although I am not at liberty to divulge who they are,  it's worth taking a moment to remind Aggie fans how the process works and to offer a few resources with which to fill out nominations.

For starters, you can find the roster of past CAAHOF inductees, plus links to the online nomination form and selection critera at the official site here:

Secondly, when an individual is submitted in any category, the nomination is good for a two-year span. So a nominee submitted this fall will earn consideration for the 2011-12 induction class. If he/she does not earn induction in June, the nominee is automatically resubmitted for the 2012-13 nomination pool. No further action is necessary, unless someone wishes to provide more supporting materials. If that nominee does not earn induction in 2012-13, he/she must be renominated by the fall of 2013 to return to the pool of candidates.

In the Student-Athlete category, a nominee must be at least five years removed from his/her last collegiate competition, using the Nov. 30 nomination deadline as the precise border (i.e. for this year's pool a UC Davis student-athlete must have last competed as an Aggie on or before Nov. 30, 2006). The seniors from the 2005-06 athletics year or the 2006 fall sports are the newly eligible candidates.

For the Non-Participant category (e.g. coaches, administrators or other support roles), the eligibility window varies. If an individual leaves employment from UC Davis, he/she is eligible immediately. If an individual still works for the university in any capacity, he/she must wait five years until being honored for whatever capacity warrants Hall of Fame consideration.

Admittedly, this is a confusing piece of policy. I'll give some hypothetical examples to (hopefully) clarify how it works, and I'll do so in the language used by many of the rulebooks I consult for my job:

(1) Mr. Abbott serves as a head coach for 12 years. After the 2014-15 season, he retires from coaching to assume a post as an associate A.D. for UC Davis athletics. Still a university employee, Abbott may not be nominated for his coaching career until 2020. (2) After two years in this associate A.D. role, Abbott then decides to leave for a job in the private sector in 2017. No longer employed by the university, Abbott is immediately eligible for Hall of Fame consideration.

(3) Mrs. Bennett serves as an athletics administrator for 24 years, then retires from the university after the 2012-13 school year. Bennett is eligible for nomination immediately beginning with the Nov. 2013 deadline. (4) In 2014, after a year of retirement, Bennett is rehired to serve as a consultant for the UC Davis university relations office. Now an employee again, the five-year rule takes effect, and Bennett must wait until 2018 before she may be honored for her athletics career.

(5) Ms. Campbell coaches at UC Davis for eight years, leading her program to the NCAA title in 2015. In the summer after winning this championship, she is hired as the head coach in the same sport at UCLA. Even though she is still in the profession at another UC school, Campbell is eligible for CAAHOF consideration immediately, as she is no longer a UC Davis employee.

(6) Mr. Downing coaches a team at UC Davis for 20 years. Then in 2015, he assumes the role as a head coach in a different Aggie sport for 10 more years before retiring for good in 2025. Downing may be considered for the Hall of Fame beginning in 2020, but only for his coaching achievements in the first sport. Effective 2026, however, Downing may be considered for his coaching career in both sports.

If you're still confused, just shoot me a line and I'll let you know if a potential non-participant is on or off the table. Or just submit the name anyway. If the person is eligible, he/she goes into the pool. If not, we'll let you know.

As many already have heard, UC Davis also has a new honor called the Aggie Legacy Award. To put things briefly, this honors Aggie student-athletes not for their sports-related achivements during college (that's what the CAAHOF is for) but for what they've done since college. While most of our student-athletes go on to other fields, some remain in the athletics arena and a few go on to national prestige in those areas. Until the Legacy Award, our department had no formal way of honoring these individuals.

Or, to put it more succinctly, we never got to officially brag about who some of our former Aggies are.

In my opinion, the inaugural winner was about as good as we could have asked for: Boise State football coach Chris Petersen. Not only has he led his Bronco team to amazing success, but he has done so with a reminder that he once roamed Toomey Field: his UC Davis roots are often mentioned during national television broadcasts or in major news outlets.

More importantly, Coach Pete has set a high bar for the expectations we envisioned for the award when the idea was floated years ago. There are other Aggies whose national profile is comparable to Petersen; I hope our fans will take a few minutes to submit those names and make their cases for our celebrated UC Davis alums.

Finally, a few nominators have indicated (either in words or by the lack of information in their forms) that they don't know some of the awards or achievements an individual had at UC Davis. My short answer: do the best you can. Truthfully, my office can usually fill in most of the blanks. However, there are some large gaps in our records -- particularly for athletes who competed in the 1980s -- so relying on the athletics communications staff is a gamble. If you don't fill out that section, and we don't have records for that person, you will have effectively submitted a blank nomination that has little chance of earning induction.

To help fill out nominations for those who competed in the last decade or so, I'll point you to the Year-by-Year Athletics Recaps page on the website. This provides PDF versions of the year-in-review documents since 1999 (the year I returned to the then-Sports Information office). No, these reports don't show everything an individual has done, nor does it list every student-athlete from any given year. But the types of honors and achievements that warrant inclusion in those reports generally coincide with the level of accomplishment one needs to enter the Hall.

Anyway, it's Homecoming Week... 'tis the time of year to welcome back our past Aggies. We have two alumni games, the Pajamarino event at the train station tonight, and the football game against UTSA on Saturday.

And while we greet our alumni this weekend, I hope a few of you will take some time to honor them as well.

-Mark Honbo, athletics communications director, will miss the Pajamarino event due to a photo assignment. However, he hopes to see a few people at the new Our House spot at 808 Second Street in downtown Davis.

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