Jeff Badger and his father aren't talking much these days.
They'll meet for a moment before this afternoon's 59th Causeway Classic in Davis and offer more grim-faced nods than a warm embrace.
Hey, it's rivalry week, and it goes with the territory. Badger insists he wears the colors of Sacramento State to class, to football practice, to bed, to church. The old man? Lance Badger still swears by UC Davis, his school, his football foundation.
Young Badger is a senior linebacker for the Hornets. Lance was a UCD linebacker in 1985 and 1986. His Aggies claimed two Causeway victories, including the '86 contest that was a 29-6 mud affair at rustic Toomey Field. Today will be a wet affair, sans the mud, at the Aggies' state-of-the-art facility where synthetic turf ensures that no one will be pulling clumps of muck out of a face mask.
"Dad reminds me he's an Aggie," said Badger, who, like his father, starred at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa. "When I told him that I was going to play at Sac State, he said that was fine, but said, 'I won't (root for) you.' "
Badger grew up yearning to be like pops: to level ballcarriers in college and to later find a job that includes adrenaline rushes and sirens. Lance Badger is an officer for the Santa Rosa Police Department. Jeff Badger aspires to be a firefighter.
"My dad wouldn't let me do ride-alongs with him when I was young," Badger said. "He wanted me to be safe. I still haven't gone on one with him, but I will. For me, I need a job where I'm involved and active, and that's firefighting."
Pick me, please
At the Causeway luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Thursday, Jeff Badger needled his former high school teammate Randy Wright, now UC Davis' quarterback. Said Badger: "I want him to throw me a pick. I won't score. Just a pick, that's all."
Today's wet weather offers reminders of past Causeway games in miserable conditions.
In 2000, UCD beat Sac State 13-10 in a field of mud at Hughes Stadium, where fans could barely recognize which players were on which teams and good footing was a myth.
In 2010, wind and sheets of sideway hail hammered fans at UCD. With lightning strikes near the venue, Aggie Stadium was temporarily evacuated at halftime. The teams were kept in their locker rooms for 45 minutes.
"The most surreal game I've been a part of," retiring UCD coach Bob Biggs recalled. "They told us we couldn't walk back onto the field because the tunnel was flooded, to go through the stands instead. I thought that would be awkward. We go out, and there wasn't a soul in the stadium. It was like a scrimmage that no one cared about."
UCD won 17-16.
Aggies honor '82 team
Led by quarterback Ken O'Brien and safety Bo Eason, members of UC Davis' 1982 team that reached the Division II championship game will be honored today.
O'Brien missed the 34-9 loss to Southwest Texas State, which won its second consecutive title, with a foot injury suffered in the semifinals against North Dakota State.
O'Brien teases left-tackle buddy Dan Gazzaniga for allowing the hit that sidelined him. Gazzaniga once explained to The Bee: "It's not my fault Kenny can't run."
Biggs bows out
Biggs received two standing ovations at the packed Causeway luncheon. He said, with emotion: "To all the friends and fans, you have no idea how much you have impacted my life. Thank you."