By staging an amazing comeback after the Mike Montgomery shoving incident on Sunday, Cal intensified the debate regarding such physical actions by a coach.
The old-school faction that believes society has become too soft, to its detriment, interprets the fact that Cal and Allen Crabbe responded by playing their best basketball and winning a pivotal game against USC as evidence of its contention.
Those holding the belief that any physical aggression against a subordinate is unacceptable on moral, ethical and psychological grounds would claim the result is irrelevant.
I happen to fall in the latter group, but you have to wonder whether Montgomery would have been suspended for a game if the results had been different.
That brings us to Crabbe, who turns out to be the stellar citizen in all this.
He immediately responded to the shove by appropriately expressing his distaste for the unacceptable action, but without being verbally or physically provocative.
He composed himself, returned to the game without further incident, had a magnificent performance when others might have wilted, helped his team win a game that put the Bears in contention for a conference title and an NCAA Tournament berth, then condoned his coach's action afterward.
If Crabbe had not responded the way he did immediately after the shove, if he had not been outstanding on the court after the incident, if he had not led the Bears to a pivotal comeback victory, if he had not supported Montgomery after the game, Montgomery would be in a lot more hot water than he is.
This from a soft-spoken, 20-year-old college junior who carries the weight of knowing the fate of his high-profile team rests almost entirely on his shoulders.
Cheryl Price, Crabbe's mother, captured it perfectly, as only a parent can, when she told the Oakland Tribune, "I'm talking incredible character. I'm so proud of him."
CAL ON THE BUBBLE:
One thing to remember when looking at projected NCAA Tournament fields is that the last three or four at-large teams expected to make the field now probably wouldn't make it at season's end, when upsets in conference tournaments knock out the lowest bubble teams.
Another thing to remember: Things change in a hurry. Last week, Stanford was a bubble team. This week, after two losses, it isn't.
Arizona State may be the toughest team in the country to project. Opinions vary widely on whether the Sun Devils would be in or out today.
Our assessment of the last eight at-large teams that would make the field if the selections were made today:
---Cal - The win over USC got the Bears into the field - for now.
---St. Mary's - The 17-point loss to Gonzaga didn't hurt, but a loss to another West Coast Conference team would.
---Baylor - The nation's most unpredictable team.
---Mississippi - Rebels are 2-4 after 17-2 start.
---North Carolina - Tar Heels can't afford any bad losses.
---Villanova - Wildcats have won four of last five.
---Virginia - Cavaliers are third in the ACC, though that doesn't matter.
---Iowa State - Loss at Texas makes Cyclones uncomfortable.