Pier Bruce, the mother of Cal starting cornerback Darian Hagan, isn't about to downplay the family rivalry that will take place Saturday when the Bears host Colorado at Memorial Stadium.
Bruce had a special T-shirt made for the game that reads "Hagan vs. Hagan."
Hagan will be going head-to-head with his father, Darian Hagan Sr., the running backs coach for the Buffaloes. Hagan Sr. was one of the greatest football players in Colorado history, a three-year starting quarterback who led the Buffaloes to the national championship in 1990 and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1989.
Hagan and his father are not close -- Hagan Sr. was in college when Bruce gave birth to their son -- but animosity doesn't exist. Bruce married Jerome Bruce when Hagan was 18 months old, and he was raised by his mother and stepfather.
"It's not as strong as we would both like, but it is what it is," Hagan said of his relationship with his father. "We talk every now and again."
Hagan said his father tried to convince him to come to Colorado when he was being recruited out of Crenshaw High-Los Angeles. But Hagan, one of the most heavily recruited defensive backs in the country, decided he wanted to make his own name. He had several major programs from which to choose.
"He was thinking he wanted to have a name for himself and set his path somewhere else. That's pretty much why he didn't come here," Hagan Sr. told CUBuffs.com. "I wasn't going to deter him. I wanted the best decision for him. He considered a lot of things, but it pretty much came down to him being comfortable somewhere he could make a name for himself."
Hagan said he has watched film of his father tearing it up at Colorado. As a sophomore in 1989, Hagan Sr. both ran and passed for more than 1,000 yards, becoming just the sixth player in NCAA history to do so. He led the Buffaloes to a No. 1 ranking before losing to Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. Colorado beat the Fighting Irish in an Orange Bowl rematch the next season to win the national crown.
The Buffaloes were 28-5-2 during Hagan's three years as a starter.
"It's one of the biggest games of the year for me," Hagan said. "He was one of the greatest players in that school's history. This will be my first game actually playing in front of him. I get a chance to show him the type of player that I am. I'm looking forward to it."
Hagan Sr. has never seen one of his son's college games in person. Being a coach, their schedules usually conflict. The one trip Cal made to the state of Colorado while Hagan was on the roster came when the Bears played at Colorado State in 2007. The Buffaloes were visiting Arizona State that day.
Truth be told, Hagan doesn't mind that his dad wasn't there that day. A redshirt freshman at the time, Hagan came into the game late when the Bears had a substantial lead and got beat for two touchdowns.
"This is my opportunity to come out and try to have the best game that I can possibly have against these guys," Hagan said. "I'm sure when I see him, he'll have something to say. He'll probably talk a little trash. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a big one."
Colorado (1-0) at Cal (1-0), 12:30 p.m. CSNBA