Monday, June 30, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Cal Gambles on Winning

By Daniel Borenstein

Winning might not be everything, but it's becoming much more important at Cal.  The university is about to sign another large long-term athletic contract, this one with new basketball coach Michael Montgomery, who will take in at least $1.7 million annually over the next six years. That's 61 percent more than his predecessor, Ben Braun, received last year. And it follows the seven-year contract renewal UC Berkeley inked with football coach Jeff Tedford that paid $2.8 million last year.

The Montgomery deal, which has not been officially released, is part of the university's high-priced gamble to turn the athletics department into a major revenue-generator. The strategy hinges on the football and men's basketball teams, the two top spectator sports on campus, becoming consistent national competitors that can attract the best player talent, increase ticket sales and, most importantly, generate rapidly increasing alumni donations.

Thus far, the university has shown significant gains. In the first five years since Tedford was hired in 2002, donations to the department jumped 76 percent. And the football program, which was struggling financially, now turns an annual $9 million profit. In addition, the athletic department has raised pledges for about $100 million of the roughly $400 million it needs to fund a new training facility and renovations to the football stadium.  But the university has much grander long-range plans. They call for an additional doubling of annual contributions, to $21 million a year, by 2017, on top of raising the other $300 million for the capital improvements.

There are two problems with this strategy. First, it counts on the school producing consistent top-contending teams, which can be an elusive goal. Remember that Cal's football team early last season was on the verge of earning the nation's No. 1 ranking, but then finished the regular season with a dismal 6-6 record. The team hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1959. The basketball team hasn't reached the Final Four since 1960 and last won the national championship in 1959.

The second, and bigger, question is whether the underlying premise of the plan will hold — whether winning sports teams can generate substantially greater contributions in the long run. Cornell University economist Robert Frank, who has studied the finances of college athletics, says the link is weak at best. "You'd want to be skeptical of an influx of new money," he said. "We haven't seen it in programs in the past. It doesn't mean it couldn't happen."

Sandy Barbour, Cal's athletic director, remains confident the money can be raised. Of about 425,000 living Cal alumni, only 8,000 currently contribute to the athletic program. She hopes to increase that to 20,000 over the next decade. Spending 90 minutes with her last week, I got the sense that she could convince homeless on Telegraph Avenue to contribute.

Successful teams are her key to luring donors. On one hand, she says that winning is not everything, that academic excellence, community involvement and fiscal responsibility are important criteria for a successful athletic program. On the other hand, she makes clear that a return to the football team's 0-11 record of 1999 or 1-10 in 2001 is not acceptable. And to win, she reasons, the university needs to hire top-tier coaches.

That is the rationale behind the university's contract with basketball coach Montgomery, formerly with Stanford and the Golden State Warriors. His new deal, I'm informed, starts with a $250,000 annual base salary and will be sweetened with a "talent fee—" what the university describes as payout "based on standard participation in outside events representing UCB" — averaging $1.125 million a year.

On top of that, Montgomery will receive mandatory bonuses of $300,000 the first year and $500,000 in three of the other five years of the contract. Add in two cars, pension contributions and a country club membership, and the compensation package averages out to $1.7 million a year.

Then there are the 11 possible performance bonuses if the team does well — everything from winning 20 games in a season to capturing the national championship — that could add up to $330,000 more to Montgomery's salary each year.  Montgomery's contract, like Tedford's, dwarfs the compensation paid to Mark Yudof, the new president of the UC system. As I've said before, these superheated coaching contracts are misguided, especially when the university subsidized the athletic department to the tune of $9.45 million last year.  The good news is that Barbour has brought the subsidy down from $13 million three years earlier. The bad news is that there are no plans to eliminate it. Barbour says it can't be done if the university is going to continue to fund 27 different collegiate sports, most of which are not profitable like football and men's basketball.

But, perhaps, at a time when other departments in the university are being forced to trim staff, there needs to be some belt-tightening in the athletics department as well. Moreover, that subsidy is certain to rise if the football and basketball teams aren't successful — and fail to draw the major donors as planned.  A greater subsidy means less money for other programs or more tax revenues. So for now, let's all hope that the Bears do well. Just win, baby.

ESPN: Cal to Play Boston College in the Emerald Bowl

Here are Mark Schlabach’s predictions for the 2008-2009 bowl games.

San Francisco Chronicle: UC compromises on key stadium issues

UC Berkeley made key concessions Friday in its long-running standoff with the city, tree-sitting protesters and neighbors of Memorial Stadium that the university hopes will clear the way for its plans to build an athletic training center next to the stadium.  In documents submitted in Alameda County Superior Court, the university says it will scrap all non-football events at Memorial Stadium and drop plans to attach a concrete support beam to the stadium's west wall, two roadblocks cited in a judge's interim ruling in the case last week.

UC's proposed judgment also asks Judge Barbara Miller to immediately lift an injunction that prevents the university from beginning construction on the center in a grove of oak trees next to the stadium, where tree-sitters have been roosting for 18 months in protest of the university's plans to cut the trees to make way for the training center.  Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university made the concessions to expedite the $140 million training center, which was the target of lawsuits filed by the city of Berkeley, a neighborhood association and a group of oak tree advocates.  "The judge's ruling last week really focused our attention on our priorities, which are clearly, and as soon as possible, to get a new facility built for the 450 student-athletes who badly need it," he said. "We also wanted to be responsive to the needs and interests of the city and neighbors."

Miller is expected to issue a final ruling in the next few weeks. If she lifts the injunction, the university plans to begin construction a few days later, Mogulof said.  In her preliminary ruling on June 18, Miller sided with the university on most aspects of the case, saying the athletic training center would not violate the state Alquist-Priolo law, which prohibits building on earthquake faults.

But she sided with the plaintiffs on several points that could stop the project. Her primary concern was the grade beam, which she said was an alteration to Memorial Stadium and therefore was subject to Alquist-Priolo. The plaintiffs argued that without the grade beam, the training center could not be built safely.

Miller also questioned the value of Memorial Stadium. According to Alquist-Priolo, seismic renovations to a building on a fault cannot exceed half the building's value. The university says the stadium is worth $593 million.  But if the grade beam is removed, the value of the stadium is a moot point until seismic retrofit work begins, both sides agree. In their proposed judgment, filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs said the university should drop the project until it can prove Memorial Stadium is worth more than twice the cost of seismic upgrades and should cancel plans to host non-football events. Opponents of the project had mixed reactions to UC's filing.

"It's curious. They made it very clear they needed the (stadium) support beam to make the facility safe," said Michael Kelly, vice president of the Panoramic Hill Association. "From a safety point of view, removing it seems to be kind of shaky."  The university's structural engineers had recommended the concrete grade beam to protect the 1923 Beaux Arts stadium during construction of the athletic facility a few feet away. The stadium, which sits atop the Hayward Fault and is partially built on landfill, has undergone few repairs over the years and is cracked and crumbling in many places.

But any damage to the stadium during construction would be strictly cosmetic, Mogulof said. "This is absolutely, 100 percent not a safety issue," he said. "If there is cosmetic damage to the stadium, we will fix it when the stadium is renovated." Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said the City Council will meet next week to discuss the case, but any decisions are premature until the judge issues her final ruling. "Our concern is and always has been safety," he said. "I just hope that by removing the grade beam they're not going to be causing problems for the western wall of the stadium."  City Councilman Laurie Capitelli said he was relieved to see the case moving forward, but was concerned about the plight of the tree-sitters, whose food and water were cut off last week when university arborists dismantled all but one of their platforms.

"We've got a volatile situation in the trees right now," Capitelli said. "One way or another, we've got to get them out of there safely. My hope, at this point, is that the judge moves quickly to issue a definitive decision so we can resolve this." Seven protesters remain in the trees, sharing a single platform about 40 feet up a redwood tree. Campus Police Chief Victoria Harrison spent about 45 minutes Thursday talking to the tree-sitters about their food and water supplies and waste disposal.  The tree-sitters refused to turn over their waste, which has been accumulating since last week, but did accept bottled water and energy bars on Friday, Mogulof said. "When the injunction is lifted and the legal coast is clear, at that point we will have reached the end of the judicial process," he said. "We hope and expect that anyone left in the trees will, at that point, abide by any and all court rulings."  The tree-sitters have said they'll refuse to come down until the grove is protected from development. About 44 trees are slated for removal to build the athletic center, but the university has said it would plant about 130 trees in their place.  In a separate project, UC next wants to retrofit Memorial Stadium, which also is likely to provoke a legal battle with neighbors and the city. Most of the plaintiffs want the landmark stadium razed and a new stadium built elsewhere.

The university would like to preserve the stadium, which was named by Sports Illustrated as the best place in the United States to watch a college football game and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

AP: Berkeley tree-sitters hanging on, 18 months in


BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — In December 2006, protesters angry about campus expansion plans clambered into the branches of a threatened oak grove at the University of California, Berkeley.  Since then, Democrats have chosen their first black presidential candidate, the housing market has taken a dive and gasoline prices have boomed. Still, the tree-sitters continue to sit. There had been signs the protest might be coming to an end as a court case challenging a planned multimillion-dollar athletic training facility inched closer to resolution.

This month administrators, who won a court order allowing them to evict the protesters at any time, cut supply lines, yanked a few protesters out of the trees and drove the rest into a single redwood. For a while, it looked like campus officials were prepared to starve protesters out.  But after the remaining half-dozen or so tree sitters said they were a) not moving and b) rationing water, officials relented and offered sustenance to the protesters aloft.  "This misguided effort to preserve a 1923 landscaping project certainly doesn't warrant any action that could cause harm or permanent health consequences for anybody involved," said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof. Protesters and their supporters say they are prepared to hold out.

"They're very well-trained tree climbers. They're very experienced and I have trust in them that they're going to keep themselves safe and they're going to keep defending the grove," a ground supporter who would give her name only as Citizyn said this week.

UC Berkeley officials say they need the new center to provide safe and up-to-date facilities for their athletes. Once the center is built, the second phase of the project involves upgrading Memorial Stadium — old, dilapidated and sitting right on top of the Hayward fault.  Neighborhood residents, the City of Berkeley and the California Oak Foundation have sued to stop the project, saying it violates environmental and earthquake safety regulations.  A judge issued an injunction blocking construction while the suits were pending and was expected to make a definitive ruling earlier this month. But that ruling turned out to be a bit mixed, with both sides reading victory into its 129 pages.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller found the new center is mostly legal. However, on the stadium upgrade part of the project, she said the university has to prove some planned work doesn't amount to more than 50 percent of the value of the original building, a state requirement.

On Friday, UC Berkeley filed a response saying it is eliminating the items the judge questioned. Administrators also asked the judge to modify the preliminary injunction, saying there are no longer grounds for preventing construction on the new facility.

Once the judge has issued a final ruling, it can be appealed. But construction could begin earlier if UC is successful in getting the injunction lifted.  On the tree issue, campus officials note that most of the trees were planted by the university in the 1920s. They have promised to plant three trees for every one felled. But tree-sitters say that is not acceptable.  Over the past 18 months, protesters had been cycling in and out, using supply lines stretched over a campus-erected barricade. But the stepped-up campus actions stopped that.  In the past two weeks, the mood has swung wildly.  Protesters howled, flung excrement and shook tree branches as campus-hired arborists cut supply lines and removed gear.  But by late this week, campus police were conducting delicate negotiations with tree-sitters, offering to provide food and water if protesters would lower their waste on a daily basis in the interest of hygiene. Campus officials ended up giving up the water without concessions; protesters declined to yield their urine.

Cal Snow Globe

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oakland Tribune: UC Berkeley gives water to tree sitters

University of California, Berkeley, police sent a case of water up to the tree sitters Thursday afternoon.

At least six and possibly seven people are living in a redwood tree in the university oak grove. They are the last remaining tree sitters protesting the removal of 44 trees to build a $140 million sports training center. Last week the university cut off the resupply from ground supporters of food and water to the tree sitters.

About 12:30 p.m. Thursday, university Police Chief Victoria Harrison and Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya made contact with the tree sitters and inquired about their remaining food and water. They said they needed both, and Harrison offered to begin providing them with food and water in exchange for a commitment to begin lowering their human waste daily. Tree sitters have several buckets for excrement and last week, some used stockpiled waste as weapons against arborists attempting their removal.

The tree sitters refused Harrison's offer. Still, police sent up 24 half-liter bottles of water, said university spokesman Dan Mogulof.  The protest has been under way for 18 months, with more than 150 people taking turns living in the trees.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Daily Cal: Gladstone Ends Tenure With Bears

By Jimmy Tran

Winning follows Steve Gladstone, so when he returned to Cal in 1997 for his second coaching stint in Berkeley, success inevitably also returned to the men's crew.  Now, 11 years and five IRA championships later, Gladstone is once again leaving the program.  Never known to stay at one place for more than a decade, Gladstone announced last Friday that he is stepping down from his duties at Cal to pursue a post at the California Rowing Club.  There, Gladstone will work with California Rowing Club director Tim McClaren and train postgraduate rowers aiming for the World Championships and Olympic competition.  "I need to repot myself periodically," Gladstone said. "The way I've done that in the past is by changing universities. What really intrigues me is the building process. To find something and leave it in better shape than I found it."

Gladstone first came to Cal in 1973 and immediately turned the program into a national-title contender. In 1976, Cal won its first-ever IRA title and added a Pac-10 Championship in 1979 before Gladstone's first departure in 1980.  If anyone doubted his abilities and influence, the fact that Cal finished only as high as third just once until his return stands as proof of his quality.  "There has to be a real passion to succeed, and beyond that, is doing it together to achieve a goal," Gladstone said. "The word I use is cooperation-working to work together."  Gladstone did more for Cal than just win national titles as a coach. He also served as the university's athletic director from 2001 to 2004, during which he hired Jeff Tedford as head football coach in December 2001.

Around the same time, Gladstone was guiding the crew team to more IRA championships and finished with five total in his second stint at Cal, with four of them coming consecutively in 1999-2002.    Gladstone's final IRA crown in 2006 was the 11th in his prestigious career, tying him with Charles "Pop" Courtney of Cornell for the most varsity-eight titles in the history of collegiate rowing.  Because Gladstone will now be working with world-class rowers, some may see his departure in the wrong light, but Gladstone insisted that it did not influence his decision.  "This is not a better challenge but a new one, and that distinction is very important," Gladstone said.  The future, as always, is unclear, but with Gladstone working as an assistant to McClaren, the notion of the U.S. bringing home a medal this summer is not far fetched.  Still, Gladstone said he will always remember his time at Cal.  "There's no question the opportunity to mark people's lives is very compelling," Gladstone said. "When you're coaching, that's not your primary objective but in the daily rigor, people's lives are touched and I've touched them in positive ways, and I'll miss that."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Cal's Tedford cautiously optimistic after ruling


By Jonathan Okanes

BERKELEY — Cal football coach Jeff Tedford is taking a cautious approach after Wednesday's ruling regarding the university's proposed Student-Athlete High-Performance Center and renovation to Memorial Stadium.  "I know a lot of specifics still need to be worked through," Tedford said. "I'm kind of in a holding mode to see what it all means. I know there are people working on it so we'll just have to wait and see."

Cal officials claimed victory Wednesday after Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller ruled the proposed athletic facility, with a few exceptions, is in compliance with environmental and earthquake zoning laws. University attorney Charles Olson said he was confident the remaining issues could be cleared up in a matter of days.  Tedford has said his program, along with others at the school, are in desperate need of upgraded facilities to compete on the Pac-10 and national level. Some speculate the new center could be a deal-breaker for Tedford's desire to stay at Cal for the long haul, although he never has said so publicly.

Although Tedford wasn't as quick as athletic director Sandy Barbour or vice chancellor of administration Nathan Brostrom to claim victory, he said a conversation with Barbour was encouraging.   "I felt like her attitude was pretty positive," Tedford said. "That's the impression I got from Sandy. That's all I can really go by."   The proposed center, which is slated to be built  next to Memorial Stadium, will feature training facilities, offices, conference rooms and locker rooms for 13 sports. About 450 staffers and athletes who work every day in the stadium would move to the new facility.

When asked if the ruling was a positive development in the context of Tedford's longevity at Cal, Barbour said it was an encouraging turn of events for all coaches affected. "It's a complicated ruling," Barbour said. "But the bottom line is we believe that this ruling gives us a road map, after a couple of technical issues we need to address, to give us the opportunity to move forward.  "We believe this gives us the opportunity to get this thing under way. Because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, all of our coaches are pleased."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PDF of Judge Miller's Ruling Regarding Memorial Stadium

Found this on the Bear Insider site…enjoy!



KTVU: Mixed Ruling On Proposed Training Center Pleases UC


(Note from Blogger: I’ve highlighted portions below which appear to indicate that UC won on the major issues)

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller issued a mixed ruling Wednesday that initially pleased both supporters and opponents of the University of California, Berkeley's controversial proposal to build a new sports training center next to its football stadium.   UC-Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university's lawyers are still reviewing Miller's 129-page ruling, which wasn't released until after 6 p.m, but their initial reaction is that Miller "ruled in the university's favor regarding every issue concerning the construction of the student athlete high performance center."

But Stephen Volker, the attorney for the California Oak Foundation, one of three plaintiff groups who filed suit to try to stop the $125 million project, said he's "very pleased" with Miller's ruling because she ruled that some aspects of the university's plan violate the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act.  That act is a state law that prohibits alterations or additions to existing structures for human occupancy built across earthquake faults where the cost of the alteration or addition will exceed half the value of the existing structure.  The proposed training center would be located next to the UC's Memorial Stadium, which sits on top of the Hayward earthquake fault.  Volker said Miller also ruled that the university's environmental review of the project "is deficient in several respects."

A spokeswoman for the city of Berkeley, which is another plaintiff in the case, said Miller's ruling is mixed but appears to preclude the university from going forward at this time.  Mogulof said UC-Berkeley Vice Chancellor Nathan Bostrom and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour will comment on Miller's ruling at a news conference at 8 p.m.  In her ruling, Miller said the university's environmental impact report and approval of the first phase of the training center project complies with the Alquist-Priolo act.

Miller said that as a whole the training center doesn't violate the act because it is not an addition or alteration to Memorial Stadium.  However, Miller said "certain elements" of the training center project do constitute alterations to the football stadium.  The judge said that in order comply with the act, the university must determine the value of the alterations and of the football stadium.

Miller said the university complied with environmental procedural and substantive requirements "in nearly all respects" but the record "does not support the university's unavoidability findings relating to earthquake related risks and additional noise and traffic impacts" from the university's plans to have add more high-capacity events at the stadium, which already hosts about six football games a year.  The third plaintiff in the case is the Panoramic Hill Association, which represents people who live in the neighborhood next to the football stadium.  A UC Board of Regents committee approved the project in December of 2006, but Miller issued a preliminary injunction against the project on Jan. 29, 2007, which temporarily halted it.

Volker said his interpretation of Miller's ruling is that the university can't go forward with its plans in their current form.   In her ruling, Miller said the plaintiffs must submit a proposed writ of mandate and judgment by June 24 and the university must respond by June 27.

Miller said she will retain jurisdiction over the case until it has determined that the university has complied with environmental laws and the Alquist-Priolo Act.  Earlier in the day, environmental activist Dumpster Muffin's standoff with arborists 60 feet above a UC Berkeley oak grove gave the showdown between the university and tree-sitting protesters a human face as clashes over the threatened grove continued for a second day.  With supporters chanting below, Muffin stood precariously on a wooden platform high above the trees anchored by what appeared to be a 2x4 and a pair of wires.

The arborists were trying to lure Muffin from the perch and threatened to cut the support wires. With each verbal exchange between Muffin and workers, tensions rose. Below her, supporters jeered UC police officers deployed around the grove. Matt Marks, a supporter of the tree-sitters, said protesters were determined to protect the grove which is schedule for removal to make way for an athletic facility. "This is a really important plot of land on many levels," he told KTVU Wednesday morning. "We are here to protect it… we will leave if the UC signs a document that says it will never be cut down."  Campus officials had increased the number of officers surrounding the grove Wednesday, heightening the tensions as the hours wound down toward the release of a court decision on the fate of the grove. On Tuesday, arborists assisted by a cherry picker and, protected by at least 40 UC police officers, entered the grove and began removing support structures and ropes constructed by the protesters in the trees. One tree-sitter was arrested after she allegedly bit an arborist working to cut the lines.  The action, which sliced some ropes that carry food, water and demonstrators into the trees, came on the eve of a ruling on lawsuits challenging campus plans for a new sports center. The plan would mean cutting down the oak grove where protesters have been perching for months.

Campus officials said they won't try to yank protesters out of the trees, but made it clear they've run out of patience. The protests began in December 2006. "We wish it hadn't come to this. These people have been given every opportunity to come down voluntarily," said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof. "The university has been tolerant and that tolerance is coming to an end." Protesters vowed they would not give up and some tossed buckets of urine at police and arborists, hitting a few targets, according to Mogulof. An acrid tang hung in the air afterward. One female tree-sitter allegedly bit an arborist and was taken into custody by police, Mogulof said.  A spokesman for the group Save the Oaks confirmed that a long-term tree-sitter was forcibly taken down from the oak grove.  Doug Buckwald said that around 4:30 p.m. a woman who goes by the name "Millipede" was pulled from one of the trees and was placed in police custody.  "They grabbed a woman and took her down from the tree as she was screaming," Buckwald said.  Opponents of the new sports center criticized the university's actions as heavy-handed.  "This is just a further example of the criminalization of what should have been a community planning process. That's the real shame here," said Buckwald. . University officials say the new athletic facility -- planned in concert with upgrades to cramped and aging Memorial Stadium -- is sorely needed.

But the City of Berkeley, a neighborhood group and the California Oak Foundation sued to block construction based on concerns about earthquake safety, traffic, and the oak grove. The seismic argument stems from the fact that Memorial Stadium, which is next to the proposed facility, is bisected by the Hayward Fault.  State law prohibits renovations to structures on earthquake faults if the changes amount to more than 50 percent of the value of the existing building.  Campus officials say the new facility is not a renovation but a separate building. They note that the proposed center would not be on an earthquake fault, although it would be near, and say studies show the building would be seismically safe. On the issue of the trees, campus officials say they will plant three new trees for every one cut down. Mogulof could not speculate on what will happen if sitters refuse to descend from the trees. "At every possible junction they have chosen confrontation. We're really hoping that at some point there'll be an outbreak of common sense," he said.

School officials said the protest has cost the school more than $370,000 for security staffing and for fencing to limit access to the grove.   The Oak Grove is located just north of the intersection Bancroft Way and Piedmont Avenue, near the International House in Berkeley.

UC Berkeley: Judge's ruling on student-athlete center is 'a major victory for our students'



BERKELEY – UC Berkeley officials said Wednesday night (June 18) that the campus has prevailed on virtually every challenge in legal action that sought to halt construction of the planned Student-Athlete High Performance Center.   "We are thrilled that the judge concluded that state seismic law will allow the Student-Athlete High Performance Center to be built on the site" adjacent to California Memorial Stadium, said Vice Chancellor for Administration Nathan Brostrom. "This is a major victory for our students."

On preliminary review, Alameda Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller’s 120-page ruling, released Wednesday evening, gives the campus victory on nearly every aspect of challenges to its environmental impact report and seismic review. More details and reaction will be available on the UC Berkeley NewsCenter following a press conference later this evening.

KGO TV: Judge Halts UC Berkeley Sports Facility Project Because of Hayward Fault Line


The more than 100 page ruling gives a split decision on the Oak Grove sports project that UC Berkeley wanted to build and take down lots of old trees for.   A judge issued an order late today saying UC Berkeley cannot move forward with the project taking down Grove Oak trees because of the existing law saying you cannot build on a fault line.

KPIX: Judge's Ruling Preserves Cal Oak Grove For Now


An Alameda County Superior court judge ruled late Wednesday that an oak tree grove on the University of California, Berkeley campus is not to be touched for now to make room for a new athletic facility.


Judge Barbara Miller kept a temporary injunction in place to preserve the trees near Memorial Stadium. Her ruling said UC Berkeley failed to follow laws and procedures with regarding to developing the land for a $125 million sports training center.


The 44 trees have been home to protestors for a year and a half. Those so-called tree sitters have had a tense standoff with police who have removed ropes, lines and supplies that the protestors had placed in the grove.


By Wednesday afternoon, most of the protesters' ropes were gone, and one of two large platforms were taken down.


The city of Berkeley, a nonprofit tree group and stadium neighbors had sued the university to stop the project. They claim the site is unsafe for construction because of the nearby Hayward earthquake fault.


As of 5:05 p.m. no ruling has been issued.  The reporter said that tree-sitters are concerned that if the ruling comes out later today, the University will begin removing trees tonight, before an appeal can be filed.  She went on to say that the decision, if it is in the University’s favor, could specify that no trees can be removed for a set time.

Fox Sports: Bears must prove they're worthy of the hype


by Rich Cirminiello

After raising, and subsequently missing, lofty expectations in consecutive years, Cal has squandered whatever equity it had amassed when it came to national respect.   Have the Bears peaked under Jeff Tedford? It's a question the program will try to dismiss while attempting to eliminate the stench of last year's putrid 2-6 finish. Cal is in the awkward position of fending off allegations it's an underachiever, an odd assertion about a program that was 1-10 and on the brink of extinction earlier this decade, but it seems like every chance it has to make a really big statement, and every chance it has to turn a big corner, it blows it.

For instance, last year the Bears, helped by the opening day win over Tennessee and a scintillating victory at Oregon, had the No. 1 ranking in its grasp before blowing it late in a loss to Oregon State. While that would normally be not that big a deal with half the season left to go, the team went from the top of the charts to the ranks of the also-rans with a puzzling string of six losses in seven games. Why?

There was enough talent to beat the two tremendous teams like the Vols and the Ducks, but once the bad momentum started to roll, there was no stopping it. It was a mental issue more than anything else. Once Cal got on a bad streak, it was stuck, and it wasn't until the second half against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl win that the team appeared to finally say enough is enough. Now the goal is to start out hot and stay there. It's not going to be easy.

There's a potential quarterback controversy and a shortage of proven skill position players following the losses of RB Justin Forsett, receivers DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, and Robert Jordan, and TE Craig Stevens. However, with nine starters back on defense, the Bears might rely on that side of the ball for the first time in the Tedford era, and it's going to be the most important one in his career.

Tedford, the golden boy coach who always appeared to be on the verge of taking off for a big-time NFL gig, or something even bigger than Cal, hasn't faced this level of adversity since taking the job. He responded by shaking up his staff and installing tougher offseason mandates for his players, all in the name of recapturing some national and league respect.

The Bears are no longer the trendy choice to unseat USC in the Pac-10, a blessing considering how poorly they've handled that role in the past, but there are still plenty of tremendous athletes. Now there's something else that was missing in the past: an attitude. Match that with a little consistency, and the Bears have the potential to be special again.

What to watch for on offense: While the Cal offense is facing a star power outage for now, don't bet on it lasting very long. Yeah, Justin Forsett, DeSean Jackson, and LaVelle Hawkins are no longer amateurs, but that just paves the way for the next wave of Bear playmakers to excel. Brace yourself for RB Jahvid Best, receivers Michael Calvin, Nyan Boateng, and Jeremy Ross, along with TE Cameron Morrah, who are a half-year of experience away from being steady and exciting producers in Tedford's attack.

What to watch for on defense: More of a reliance on the 3-4 defense. Although the staff won't make a complete shift to the 3-4, it's clear it wants to get as many of its big, speedy linebackers on the field at the same time. Led by Zack Follett and Worrell Williams, the Bears are brimming with talent with several good prospects waiting in the wings. Once the three senior starters graduate, underclassmen Mike Mohamed, D.J. Holt, and Eddie Young are putting in the time now to ensure that linebacker will be a position of strength in Berkeley for years to come.

The team will be far better if: Last year's second-half collapse is a distant memory by the time Michigan State visits on Aug. 30. Although the 2-6 finish left plenty of scars, the Bears have to get past being reminded about it every time there's a little bit of adversity. With the right mindset, there's enough talent on both sides of the ball, and enough manageable games on the schedule for the program to get back on track after veering off course in 2007. 

The Schedule: There's no Tennessee showdown like last year, but the non-conference schedule isn't all that bad playing Michigan State, going to Maryland, and hosting Colorado State. All the games against the league's non-Trojan powerhouses are at home. The timing of the Pac 10 games isn't that bad going to USC after a two-game home stretch against UCLA and Oregon, and going to Arizona after a week off. Nothing can be taken for granted if the team tanks like it did at the end of last year's regular season, but closing out with Stanford and Washington, with an off week sandwiched in between them, isn't a bad way to finish.

Best offensive player: Senior C Alex Mack. Even if WR DeSean Jackson had stayed in school, Mack would be the Cal's top offensive performer, high praise for a Bear who's saddled with the anonymity of being a center. One of the country's best at his position, he's as dominant run blocking as he is on passing downs, and is the conductor of a line that's yielded less than a sack per game over the last two seasons.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Zack Follett. Follett is a rarity at his position, a versatile playmaker with a knack for creating mayhem. Now in his third season as a starter, he'll defend the running game, rush the passer, or pivot and lock down a tight end or running back in pass coverage. The total package, he led the defense in tackles for loss and sacks, while finishing second in pass breakups.

Key players to a successful season: The defensive line. While the back seven was terrific in 2007, the defensive line was almost non-existent. That must change this year if the Bears are going to be a more competitive. The secondary can ill-afford to have opposing quarterbacks spending an eternity to find receivers, so it's up to Rulon Davis, Tyson Alualu, and Cameron Jordan to get more pressures and sacks than a year ago.

The season will be a success if: Cal wins nine games. The schedule is conducive to a bounce-back season, with the Nov. 8 trip to the Coliseum being the only road game that would be considered a big upset. After last year's disappointment, the program needs to reestablish itself as a threat to USC's headlock on the Pac-10 crown, or else it stands to slip behind the likes of Oregon and Arizona State in the pecking order. A 9-3 record and a second place finish in the conference would do the trick.

Key game: Nov. 1 vs. Oregon. Call it a semifinal game for the Pac-10 title. If the Bears have any hopes of getting to the Rose Bowl, they've got to first get through Oregon, one of the schools on the short list of league contenders. USC looms in the on-deck circle a week later, so Cal better work out the offensive kinks during the first two months of the season.


Is Cal about to get consumed by an old-fashioned quarterback controversy? It might be unavoidable considering the inconsistent play of incumbent Nate Longshore and the head of steam being built by Armed Forces Bowl hero Kevin Riley. The job remains Longshore's to lose, but if the more mobile Riley continues to mature, it'll be hard for new coordinator Frank Cignetti to keep him out of the lineup. As if losing RB Justin Forsett isn't tough enough, the Bears learned in March that his heir apparent, James Montgomery, is transferring to Washington State. Next in line is Jahvid Best, who missed spring drills recovering from a hip injury. The departures of last year's top five pass-catchers create opportunities for Michael Calvin, Jeremy Ross, and Florida transfer Nyan Boateng, who are short on experience, but long on potential. 

Cal's defense has enough returning to be formidable. (Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images)

Quarterbacks: The Bears have two quality quarterbacks, but only one is needed. Tedford's challenge will be to make a decision in August, get the buy-in of both Longshore and Riley, and avoid a controversy that distracts the team. If Riley's the guy, the coach could have a star player to build around for the next three seasons. The battle in the summer is going to be fierce and tight no matter what happens, but Riley's mobility and moxie is exactly what the program needs following last year's collapse. Longshore won't go away without a fight, but he has an uphill battle against a competitor who's quickly gaining momentum. Over the last two seasons, Cal has thrown 27 interceptions, all but one coming from Longshore. Whichever one gets the start must do a better job of protecting the ball, or else his tenure under center will be short-lived.

Running Backs: In two years, the program has lost Marshawn Lynch to the Buffalo Bills, Justin Forsett to the Seattle Seahawks, and James Montgomery to Washington State. The heir apparent is expected to be 5-10, 193-pound sophomore Jahvid Best, who's recovering from a hip injury. In an ideal situation, Tracy Slocum and a healthy Best form an inside-outside tandem that can help replace most of Forsett's massive production. Best has the potential to eventually be better than last year's workhorse, making his health one of the top storylines of August's preseason. There might not be a whole bunch of power, but Best, Shane Vereen, and Covaughn DeBoskie have that extra gear needed to electrify a crowd and deflate opposing defenses. All three have the 4.3 or 4.4 jets that can change the tenor of a game when they get into the open field.

Receivers: You don't get better by losing DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, and Robert Jordan, the most productive trio in school history. However, the next group of Bear receivers has an exciting upside. After being an undersized, finesse unit for years, the Bears are set to unveil a much bigger crew that can get separation at the line and win plenty of battles for balls in the air. Oh, and guys on the two-deep can also motor. This year's top four wide receivers collectively caught four passes a year ago, spending much of the season watching from the sidelines. Out of Michael Calvin, Florida transfer Nyan Boateng, and Jeremy Ross, it's going to take time before one of them emerges as the go-to receiver

Offensive Line: Cal and line coach Jim Michalczik continue to do a fantastic job of coaching up this group of linemen. C Alex Mack is so special, he absorbs multiple defenders and makes everyone around him better at their own jobs. Ideally, the Bears can get reps for the next generation of players without being forced to give any one of them a crash course during the Pac-10 season. The depth is a major problem, but the starting five should be fantastic in pass protection. The hope is for everyone to stay healthy until the tremendous group of recruits can grow up.



The Bears and coordinator Bob Gregory have the ingredients to improve upon last year's flexible defense. They're particularly strong at linebacker, where Zack Follett, Worrell Williams, and Anthony Felder each have All-Pac-10 potential. Up front, however, there's a glaring need for more pressure, and for talented sophomores Derrick Hill and Michael Costanzo to emerge as run stuffers in the middle. The depth at linebacker coupled with the front wall concerns have the Bears flirting with the idea of using more 3-4 sets, which showed promise in last year's bowl win over Air Force. Up-and-coming CB Chris Conte gets his first chance to start in the secondary, replacing Brandon Hampton.

Defensive Line: Save for the graduation of Matt Malele, the defensive line returns intact, determined to create more pressure than a year ago. Much like last season, there are no lightweights on a Cal defensive front that averages almost 290 pounds, and is going to be tough to move off the ball. Even the ends are thick, which should bode well for a questionable run defense. The line is flush with potential, especially with the underclassmen. However, potential isn't going to help the run defense or make life any tougher for opposing quarterbacks. Tyson Aluau and Rulon Davis have to finally become steady pass rushers on the outside.

Linebackers: With all due respect to USC, Cal is sneaking up behind the Trojans in the race to determine the Pac-10's best set of linebackers. All three of last year's starters are for the Bears, including All-Pac-10 second teamer Zack Follett. From top to bottom, there isn't a more athletic group of linebackers than the one in Berkeley. Best of all, all of that speed and athleticism doesn't come at a price, as the top six players on the depth chart average nearly 240 pounds. The starters are proven veterans and the backups are talented underclassmen, who are learning and waiting in the wings to take over in 2009.

Secondary: The rebuilt secondary overachieved a year ago, and should take another positive step this fall. The Bears return a whopping nine defensive backs who lettered last season, none more important than feisty junior CB Syd'Quan Thompson, who shook off a rocky debut to contribute 78 tackles, six tackles for loss, and a team-high 10 pass break-ups. Yeah, the defense has been forced to get somewhat conservative in its approach to pass defense, but by doing so, the secondary has been able to keep plays in front of it. While the Bears will yield the short dump-offs, they also finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 in yards per completion and yards per game by not being overly aggressive in coverage. While there's upside, this isn't a scary bunch capable of changing the momentum of a game, a la former Bear Daymeion Hughes. Last year's secondary accounted for just six interceptions in 13 games.

Special Teams: After absorbing hits everywhere, the Bears are about to regress. P Bryan Anger has an exciting future, but the program will keep its fingers crossed on field goals, while hoping Syd'Quan Thompson and Shane Vereen can ignite the return game. For the moment, senior Jordan Kay is the Bear placekicker, but he has a loose grip on the job. Inconsistent beyond 30 yards, the former walk-on went just 13-of-20 on field goals, while showing little pop in his leg. If Kay continues to struggle with his accuracy, sophomore Joe Robles could get the call.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

KPIX Channel 5: Video of Tree Protesters

Here’s the link.  


The decision is due tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

SF Chronicle: Berkeley Stadium Tree-Sitters Dumps Buckets of Urine/Feces on Arborists

Tree-sitter hauled from perch in UC Berkeley grove

Demian Bulwa, Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writers

One of the activists who have perched in a grove outside UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium for the past year and a half was hauled out of her tree Tuesday, as the university began removing tree-sitters' gear in advance of a judge's ruling that could lead to a climax in the long-running protest.  The tree-sitter was taken down by two arborists who were part of a crew hired by the university to remove wooden platforms, pulley systems and other infrastructure that the protesters have built high above the ground as part of their effort to keep the university from cutting down trees to make way for an athletic training center.  Other protesters said they knew the woman taken out of a tree at 4:30 p.m. only as "Millipede." Doug Buckwald, director of a group called Save the Oaks, said she was "an experienced tree-sitter" but did not know how long she had been in the branches.  The two arborists were in a cherry-picker that banged into the trunk of the tree where the woman was perched, Buckwald said. "She screamed, and they grabbed her," he said.  As many as a dozen tree-sitters were still in the branches, 12 hours after the crew of arborists guarded by about 40 UC police officers showed up to start removing the activists' gear.  University spokesman Dan Mogulof said one of the arborists had been trying to wrap duct tape around a rope when the tree-sitter bit him on the arm. The other aborist wrestled her into the cherry picker and took her to the ground, where she was arrested, he said.   The woman had dumped a bucket of urine on two arborists earlier in the day, Mogulof said. UC police did not identify her.

The arborists and workers hired by the university dodged human waste and other debris throughout the day as they cut ropes that ran from one tree to another and removed supplies that protesters had stored in the branches.  The university launched the operation one day before an Alameda County Superior Court judge was to release a ruling on a lawsuit filed by the city, tree advocates and a neighborhood group seeking to block construction of the training center.

Mogulof said the operation was timed to prevent more protesters from ascending the grove of oaks, cypress, pines and other trees when Judge Barbara Miller issues her decision Wednesday.  No matter how Miller rules, Mogulof said, "this remains a dangerous and illegal occupation of university property."  Mogulof said some of the tree-sitters were "using their own waste as weapons" against police and the arborists, who were from a private firm. Some sitters dropped excrement, but none scored a direct hit, Mogulof said. One arborist was punched twice in the face by a tree-dweller, he said. Although the arborists removed at least one large structure and several ropes, much of the infrastructure that activists have set up since they first climbed the trees in December 2006 remains. In the tops of the tallest trees, the protesters have built at least three large structures of 15 by 15 feet out of wood boards, canvas and white sheets. Food bowls, waste buckets and shopping bags were visible Tuesday in one of the structures, perched atop a cypress tree at least 100 feet above the ground.   A 75-foot line runs from the cypress to another tree; on Tuesday, a protester sat in a fabric chair attached to the rope midway between the trees. The chair travels to the lower tree by gravity, and to the upper tree via a pulley system that the tree-sitters have rigged up. "This is a very difficult challenge," Mogulof said. "We're going to do this in a way that minimizes the chance that anyone gets hurt, whether a police officer or a protester." Buckwald said the activists had vowed to "stay up in the trees until the trees are safe, until UC guarantees they will not cut the trees down."  The tree-sitters' fate is not directly tied to the lawsuit that Judge Miller is due to rule on today. Another judge has already said the university can remove the protesters, but UC has not moved against them since gaining permission in October. UC wants to cut down 44 of 87 trees in the grove to build the training center, and says it would replace each lost tree with two saplings and one mature tree. All but a few of the trees were planted by the university after the stadium was built in 1923.  The lawsuit that Miller will rule on seeks to block construction of the $123 million training center on the grounds that it would be built atop an earthquake fault and thus violate state law.  The Hayward Fault runs under Memorial Stadium. The city of Berkeley, a neighborhood group and the California Oak Foundation have argued that the training center would be part of Memorial Stadium and thus exceed earthquake-zone building limits.  The university argued that the stadium and proposed training center would be separate buildings, and that the center would not be directly atop the fault.  The proposed training center would serve more than 400 athletes in football and 12 other varsity sports.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Daily Cal: Ruling in Stadium Suit Expected Wednesday

By Angelica Dongallo

The ruling in the suit over the campus' proposed athletic center near Memorial Stadium will be released on Wednesday, according to campus officials. Alameda County Judge Barbara Miller notified campus officials yesterday that she would be issuing her statement of decision on the case in five days.

 Construction plans for the stadium were halted when the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the Save the Oaks Foundation filed a suit against the UC Board of Regents in December 2006 over proposed construction. The plaintiffs cited environmental concerns with the site of the proposed construction. Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not respond to calls for comment from The Daily Californian. Miller was scheduled to issue a ruling earlier this year, but arguments were extended after she requested supplementary expert testimony about the Hayward fault, which was heard in March.  Dan Mogulof, the campus' executive director of public affairs, said the campus is preparing a press conference for Wednesday after the ruling is released, whether or not Miller will rule in the campus' favor.   "We're prepared to deal with it no matter how it goes," he said.




AP: 3 Bills players, official subpoenaed in hit-and-run case

Three Buffalo Bills players and a high-ranking team official have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury looking into a hit-and-run accident involving running back Marshawn Lynch's SUV, police said Thursday.

"Investigators believe these people have information regarding this case," Buffalo Police Department spokesman Michael DeGeorge said.  Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark has impaneled a grand jury to investigate the May 31 incident when Lynch's 2008 Porsche Cayenne allegedly sped off after hitting and injuring a female pedestrian.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Betting Odds for 2008 Pac-10

(I’ve never heard of this site, so take what they say with a grain of salt).


CALIFORNIA (+800 in BetUS) -- It looks like erratic signal-caller Nate Longshore (who now has a pectoral injury) might be pushed by Kevin Riley, who threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the 42-36 win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. But no other starters at skill positions return - the wide receivers, including DeSean Jackson, have all left. This team lost six of its last eight games last year, and often looked horrible in doing it. With seven starters returning on defense, at least that part of the picture has a real chance to improve.

Monday, June 09, 2008 Spring Camp Brings Big Changes to Top 100 Rankings of High School Recruits

Read the article here.

Link to Tedford's Blog

Here’s the link to Jeff Tedford’s blog.  Whether it’s actually written by him (unlikely) or someone in the marketing department (highly likely) is unknown.

Contra Costa Times: Tedford has new Blog


Some advice for Bears' newest blogger

By Gary Peterson

Staff columnist

For years Cal football coach Jeff Tedford has been a man of limitless imagination and limited computer skills. He has operated a 21st-century offense while possessing a 19th-century grasp of technology.  "YouTube?" he asked famously at one of his weekly press conferences last season. "What's that?"  Had you told him then that YouTube was a distant cousin of the X-ray, or what Thomas Edison was trying to invent when he happened upon the incandescent bulb, Tedford would have had no choice but to take you at your word.

Those days have gone the way of the pager. As of Friday, Tedford has his own blog.  This is a great idea. As Tedford is slowly being made aware, it's an Internet world. And the Internet is a blogger's paradise. Now Tedford is a stranger in that paradise, which means he has the perfect tool to communicate with Cal fans, college football enthusiasts and potential recruits. Thus, it's important he gets this right. We're here to help, starting with a critique of his first entry. "I am hoping to provide the Cal fans with glimpses of the Golden Bear football program from the inside," Tedford wrote. Very good. Implies behind-the-curtain access, part of the Internet user's Bill of Rights, without overpromising. "The purpose of this is to give insight," Tedford continued, "not to get caught in debates — I don't have time for debates with everyone." In that case, DO NOT provide readers with your e-mail address. Consider this friendly advice from someone who regularly receives e-mails with subject lines reading, "You must have majored in stupid at the moron academy," "Your mother wears Army boots," and "I wish to engage you in endless and tedious debate over your recently stated point of view."

"I hope to give regular updates as time allows," Tedford wrote, "but as you know, the season gets very hectic." Be careful here. Blogs can be like catnip to readers. If we know our Cal fans, they're going to want to hear from you after losses as well as after victories. Only more so.

Here are some tips moving forward:

Many bloggers come up with catchy pseudonyms. For example, the Warriors' Baron Davis refers to himself as Boom Dizzle. How do you feel about J-Tizzle?  There's nothing wrong with using grammar- and spellcheck. In fact, a quick review of Cal football fan blogs reveals professional looking sites with thoughtfully aggregated resources and links. Must be that Berkeley education. Likewise, celebrity bloggers Gilbert Arenas, Curt Schilling and Tiger Woods compose entries that would make their high school core teachers proud. But that's no prerequisite.  This is the Web — it's OK to bend the rules. The use of slang such as "wazzup" or "dude," abbreviations, even texting shorthand such as "lol" (laugh out loud) or "DQMOT" (don't quote me on this) can give a blogger "street cred" (street cred).

For example, this could be a blog from a spring practice:

"Wazzup, Bear fanz? We went 7-on-7 2day at practice. We ran one screen pass where N8 Longshore almost thru the ball thru Javid Best. I was all, "OMG!" We all BAG. Dude doesn't no his own strength. CU. J-Tizzle"

While potential recruits might be drawn to the blog, it would be an NCAA recruiting violation to reach out to them in an overt manner. On the other hand, you could be in a defensible gray area if you were to write:

"Rough game today. I thought our quarterback was going to get killed by Washington's pass rush. How nice it would be, I thought to myself, if we only had a 6-foot-7, 295-pound left offensive tackle from Mater Dei High School on our squad."

A blog also could be used to talk up Cal's maligned athletic facilities. For instance: "I just left our training complex where some of the guys were taking a steam and watching a first-run movie." You wouldn't have to mention that the steam was coming from a broken pipe, and that the movie was being displayed on Cameron Jordan's iPod.

The key is to make it work for you. For example, it is rumored Pete Carroll has offered to blog about USC football for a $75,000 annual stipend.


Times-Herald: Cal RB Best recovering well from injury last fall


BERKELEY - Cal may not really know for sure until Aug. 8, the first day of fall camp the Bears put on pads, but the team is doing everything it can to make sure star tailback Jahvid Best is ready for the 2008 season.

Cal's training staff recently put Best through two weeks of simulated two-a-day practices, an exercise designed to measure the recovery of his bruised left hip. Best reportedly emerged from the sessions with no ill effects, and the Bears are excited to see how he responds in the fall.

"I felt fine the whole time," said Best, expected to be the Bears' starting tailback this season after a promising campaign as a true freshman. "I've felt fine for awhile. It was more of a mental barrier that I passed. I feel like now I am confident in myself."

Best, a Vallejo resident, suffered the injury during a kickoff against USC in a game late last season. He missed the rest of the season and only practiced in extremely limited fashion during the spring. An accomplished sprinter, he also was forced to sit out Cal's track and field season.

Since hip injuries can be potentially serious, the Bears have been extremely cautious with Best's recovery. He was relegated to just individual drills during the spring.

Aug. 8 may be the next benchmark in Best's recovery. He presumably will take his share of hits during practice that day, and the way his hip responds will be of great interest to everybody in the Cal program. Head trainer Ryan Cobb said the recent simulated workouts provided about 70-80 percent of the physical toll Best will eventually endure.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

San Jose Mercury News: Undrafted receiver from Cal gets chance

Battle's absence has domino effect

By Daniel Brown

Before fielding questions from reporters Tuesday, 49ers Coach Mike Nolan cautioned that he wasn't going "to talk about anyone that's not here."  That was a not-so-veiled reference to receiver Arnaz Battle, who is skipping the team's voluntary practices this week for unspecified reasons. Battle is instead working out at his home in Dallas.  Nolan made it clear, though, that Battle's absence is a gain for the other receivers competing for playing time. He mentioned returning players Ashley Lelie and Jason Hill, as well as rookies Josh Morgan and Robert Jordan.

Jordan, an undrafted free agent from Cal, is happy about the expanded opportunity. He recalled that he got only one play (a comeback route) during three days of mini-camp last month.  Now Jordan is on the field enough to get a feel for offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system. "It's a lot like Coach Tedford's offense," Jordan said, referring to his coach at Cal. "The formations are different, but a lot of the concepts are the same."

Jordan, 5-foot-11, 171 pounds, is the cousin of former Cal running back Marshawn Lynch, now with the Buffalo Bills. Jordan ranks among the Bears' all-time leaders in catches (seventh, with 156), receiving yards (ninth, with 2,047) and receiving touchdowns (ninth, with 13). He also set a Bears record by making catches in 42 consecutive games.  Now, like other receivers, he is trying to make the most of a door left open a little wider by Battle's absence.

As Nolan said: "We do have a (new) offense going in, and all the guys here are benefiting from that. It's a great opportunity. Some of the guys who would not typically get a look are getting a look right now."

Read the rest here.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Philadelphia Daily News: Jackson tries to set the record straight



DeSean Jackson met Terrell Owens, however briefly, at a promotional appearance in Los Angeles last weekend. Jackson ended up meeting Freddie Mitchell at a workout a few months back, also in LA. Jackson wants to be that playmaking wideout Eagles fans covet, but he said he does not want to be T.O. — at least not in the sense of "talking about your teammates" — and he does not want to be Freddie, the guy Jackson has heard "talked his way out of the league."  There are pitfalls to be avoided here, concerns to be addressed, as Jackson begins his Eagles career a month after being drafted in the second round, 49th overall, out of Cal. And they don't all have to do with the now-famous scouting combine revelation that he is 5-10, 169, instead of Cal's 6-foot, 178 listing.

Jackson has an ego and isn't shy about touting his own abilities. When his college team flopped spectacularly the second half of last season, from 5-0 to 6-6, stalling his bid for the Heisman, he acknowledges he grew frustrated, and talked about wanting the ball.  "The top-notch guys, the guys who really go out there and make big plays, and expect the ball to always be in their hands when the game's on the line, I definitely feel like you have to have, not a chip on your shoulder, but you have to have that within yourself," Jackson said, as he began a minicamp for Eagles rookies and select veterans.

"You've gotta want the ball. You gotta know when it's a crucial time, you gotta step up for your teammates and for yourself and make big things happen. If you're a coach, you don't want your go-to receiver to not want the ball . . . The best of the best receivers want to be in that position."  Jackson, whose 4.35 40 speed and ankle-breaking change of direction skill could make him a return game star right off the bat, has been the focus of attention his entire life, raised in the L.A.-area spotlight by an outspoken father and a large family that included four older brothers, everyone reveling in his successes.  "I had to be tough; they wouldn't let me be a punk," Jackson said. "The expectation level was always set high for me."

Older brother Byron, a former member of the Chiefs' developmental squad, started filming DeSean's every movement when he was a preteen, and continued through his college career. DeSean was California's Mr. Football for Long Beach Poly High, one of the nation's most heralded programs; his last-second decision to turn down USC and become Cal's most celebrated recruit ever was a huge story.  Bill Jackson, DeSean's father, acknowledged back then that he had thought DeSean was going to stay nearby at USC until he announced otherwise.  "I love my family, but I think I need to get away from them and gain some independence," DeSean said that day.

In fact, the independence thing remains a work in progress. Reached on the phone, Bill Jackson didn't need to be prompted to bring up Cal coach Jeff Tedford's main point of conflict with DeSean, an issue that NFL teams mulled going into the draft.  "His coach at Cal said we were too involved in his life," said Bill Jackson, 63, who is retired from FedEx. Moments earlier, he had concluded a phone conversation with DeSean in Philadelphia. "This is a real family. This ain't people in the street. . . . I don't understand it. I worked hard all my life. . . . We're a good family. Me and DeSean's mother, we've been separated for years, but you wouldn't know it. I'm at her house right now. . . . I ain't never been in jail.  "I'm a good citizen, I vote. I saw on TV before the draft, about (running back) Darren McFadden's mother (having been addicted to cocaine). I see things on the Internet about me being a bad parent.  "I ask Coach Tedford, 'Why not be involved with your children?' . . . I've heard Andy Reid doesn't want me anywhere near his facility. I'm like, 'What did I do?' "  Bill Jackson said Reid shouldn't be concerned, that having fled his native Pittsburgh for Southern California many years ago, he has little inclination to return to Pennsylvania, except for games, and then only "if it's warm."

Tedford and DeSean had a talk a few days after the Bears' victory over Louisiana Tech last season. Bill Jackson had been interviewed on TV at halftime, and he had wondered aloud why his son wasn't getting more touches. (The answer was a thumb injury.)  "With outside opinions and outside advice always eating at DeSean, he was in a very tough spot," Tedford said, when asked about that discussion. "He's trying to be a team guy, trying to fit in and play his role, but dealing with outside information always eating at him, and not always positive . . . it ended up putting him in a very difficult position. He's had to deal with a lot of different people's opinions being shot at him. That's where I think he has grown, and will continue to grow, on being his own man, using his own common sense. Being part of the meetings and the offense, he knows better than the outsiders what is going on."  DeSean said he didn't resent his father's televised remarks.

"My dad, he only wants the best for me," he said. "It's hard for me too, when I'm not catching the ball. . . . It's not selfish or anything like that; he wants to see his son doing good."  DeSean prepared for the draft with Jerry Rice, a fellow client of DeBartolo Sports and Entertainment. They talked about how not to get jammed off the line, but they also talked about trickier issues, such as maturity, how not to be perceived as a diva.

"Being young, coming out after my junior year, I felt like my game film would speak for itself," said DeSean, 21, who scored 29 touchdowns, altogether, in just 36 college games. His six punt-return touchdowns are a Pac-10 record.

"All the things people said (going into the draft) — I'm not the first (in line in drills), I don't work hard, I don't lift weights, I'm not a team player, I honestly don't know where all that comes from . . . It is what it is, negative things got out, I had to pay for it. If that means going from the first round to the second round . . . I'm into the NFL, everything else I've got to leave behind. I've got to start a clean page here with the Eagles.

"One of the biggest things I learned with Jerry Rice was off-the-field . . . leaving good impressions on people, talk to everybody in a room, not just shake a couple hands here and there, how to handle training camp, you got to get into the playbook, work hard. There's going to be a big difference."  Tedford said if the Eagles fashion the proper environment for Jackson, he will work hard and he should succeed.  "I don't know that he worked as hard he could have, because he's a very natural player," Tedford said. "Now that he's in the NFL, and he has to compete with guys who are all as good as he is, he'll figure out he needs to work. . . . He got away with doing things on natural ability a lot at this level, that he probably won't be able to do at that level. I don't think he's opposed to it, but he'd probably even admit he can work harder.

"I don't think DeSean is malicious, or a detriment, in any way, shape or form. . . . He's young. . . . I think he will continue to grow, but I think he's a good-hearted person who wants to do well. I think if he surrounds himself with the right people, who lead him in the right direction, he will definitely want to go in that direction. I have no doubt that DeSean does have the character and the characteristics to be a good person and a great player."

Bill Jackson wants the right kinds of people around DeSean, as well. He has one type of person in particular in mind.  "DeSean has not had a quarterback since he played Pop Warner football. He didn't have a real quarterback at Long Beach Poly or at Cal," Bill Jackson said.  Then he made an interesting comparison with another bright-lights athlete whose outspoken parent was sometimes an issue during his time in Philadelphia.

"With Donovan McNabb . . . I think DeSean will be the next Iverson in Philadelphia," Bill Jackson said.

SportingNews: Court case may dictate Cal's future



By Matt Hayes

An Alameda County judge has until June 18 to make a decision on a lawsuit filed against the University of California and its facilities expansion plans that include cutting down many 100-year-old oak trees near the football stadium. Should Cal lose in court, it could lose on the field. Although coach Jeff Tedford has been loyal to Cal because the university gave him his first job, it would be easier for other schools to pry him away from Berkeley if the university must find alternative plans for desperately needed facilities upgrades. . . .