BERKELEY, Calif. -- From the moment Kevin Moen ran over Gary Tyrrell in Memorial Stadium's end zone in 1982, the man with the football and the man with the trombone have been inseparable in college football lore.
Moen was the California defensive back who scored at the end of The Play -- the five-lateral, 57-yard kickoff return that ended one of the most dramatic victories in sports history and became the biggest moment in one of college football's oldest rivalries.
Tyrrell had the best view in the house. He was among the Stanford band members who charged the field with 4 seconds left, thinking the Cardinal and quarterback John Elway had won -- but Moen, leaping in ecstasy after crossing the goal line, sent Tyrrell and his trombone to the ground in a percussive finish.
"It's a great example of why you should never give up on anything," Moen said. "Once we got going, that play took on a life of its own, but it's nothing compared to the life it has now."
As the schools prepare for the 105th edition of the Big Game on Saturday, the events of that day aren't dimmed by 20 years. Nearly all of the principals in The Play still follow and support their schools -- and both Moen and Tyrrell, who have long since gone on to successful business careers, expect to hear about it every fall.
"It got me more attention than I ever thought I'd get for being in a college band, that's for sure," Tyrrell said.
Five meetings in the last 30 years were decided on the final play, including the 2000 game. Stanford fullback Casey Moore, a senior this season, caught a 25-yard touchdown pass for the winning score in the only overtime edition of the Big Game.
The Cardinal have held The Axe -- the 19th-century trophy awarded to the winner -- for seven straight years. It's the longest streak in the rivalry's history, but much has changed in the two programs since last season's 35-28 victory for Stanford.
Under first-year coach Jeff Tedford, Cal has made one of the biggest turnarounds in recent college football history, recovering from its 1-10 record last fall for a 6-5 mark that probably would have got the Golden Bears into a bowl game if the NCAA hadn't denied their appeal of its one-year bowl ban on Monday.
Meanwhile, Stanford (2-8) has struggled mightily under first-year coach Buddy Teevens, whose players still haven't grasped his new offense. Teevens is well aware that his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham, never lost a Big Game before moving on to Notre Dame.
They might be new to the rivalry, but both coaches understand the stakes.
Both coaches remember the first time they saw The Play. Teevens, at home in Boston, remembers thinking, "Wow, that's imaginative."
Tyrrell, a chief financial officer for a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, is also an amateur beer-maker. His brand? Trombone Guy Pale Ale.
"Without that play, I would have gone on with my life and just had memories of a nice college football experience," said Moen, a Los Angeles businessman who coaches his son's football team. "Now, it's given me a little part of Cal history. ... Anybody that's involved with sports knows about it. I hear it all the time whenever somebody recognizes my name: 'Hey, he was in The Play!"'
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