Maybe you've heard — Jahvid Best might be pretty good this season. Fans (like the guy in your foursome with the Oski club head covers) think Cal's fast-twitch halfback will be better this season than he was last season. Experts (like the guy two bar stools over) say he could win the Heisman Trophy.
Everybody seems to think this could be the year the Golden Bears scratch a 51-year-old itch and return to the most talked-about venue in college athletics.
No, not Rick Pitino's favorite restaurant. The Rose Bowl.
Are you getting the picture? High hopes. XXL-sized expectations. And a lot of them ride on Best.
Oh, and those beefy guys who'll be asked to block for him.
"Of course it's exciting," senior fullback Brian Holley said Tuesday. "He's getting a lot of attention. It's a compliment to our team."
But beyond the excitement, isn't there a little pressure involved in knowing the guy who's expected to lead Cal to glory is dependent upon you doing your job so he can do his?
"You can't get caught up in the hype," sixth-year senior tackle Mike Tepper said. "Each play I have someone in front of me. It doesn't matter if it's (Best) back there, or Shane (Vereen), or Covaughn (DeBoskie-Johnson), I still have to block someone."
Put Holley down for that one, too.
"I don't concern myself with who's lining up behind me," he said. "I'm more concerned with who I'm blocking."
Best is fortunate his drive-blocking posse seems as grounded as he is when it comes to talk of Heismans and Roses. It doesn't always work that way. Recall a couple years ago when Cal touted receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson as a Heisman Trophy candidate. The campaign didn't sway many Heisman voters, but it wowed Jackson.
He got caught up in the hype to the point that he lost focus on the finer points of the game. For example: Whether his team won or lost. That was the season the Bears won their first five games en route to a No. 2 ranking, imploded, then fell out of the Top 25 — past "Others Receiving Votes" to "Oh Yeah, Them."
Not to be too hard on Jackson. When you're 20 years old, the subject of a Heisman blitz and the focal point of the No. 2 team in the country, you're doing well if your head still fits in your helmet. That Best exudes nonchalance under some of the same circumstances is undoubtedly beneficial to his teammates.
Those young men, by the way, have other important things on their mind as well. And they are young. Their first order of business is compensating for the loss of All-America center Alex Mack and All-Pac 10 guard Noris Malele.
Junior Chris Guarnero will take over at center. He will be flanked by guards Matt Summers-Gavin (a redshirt freshman) and Justin Cheadle (a sophomore). Sophomore Mitchell Schwartz will move from left tackle to right.
Tepper, the starting left tackle, has a unique perspective. He blocked for Best when Best was a freshman. He watched from the sideline last season, nursing a pectoral injury, as Best ran wild. Reunited with Best this season, a couple old upper-division war horses together again, he sees a certain maturity.
"There's a big difference," Tepper said. "He's got more experience. He's more comfortable in his running. He's making great strides."
Come to think of it, whatever trepidation the Best-inspired expectations might cause among his blockers should be offset by the knowledge that he doesn't need much of a block to do something special.
"If he's the back," Tepper said, "and if I sustain my block for one second, I see this flash of No. 4 going by me. I know he'll be a huge contributor to our success."
Just like it reads in the pamphlet.
Contact Gary Peterson at email@example.com.