Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cal Loses to Iowa in Rose Bowl 38-12

By Ron Kroichick


1959 ROSE BOWL: Iowa 38, Cal 12

Distinction they'd rather not have - Bears don't want to be known as last to go to Pasadena

Jack Hart started for three seasons as a halfback at Cal, earned all-conference honors in 1958 and scored two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl, a small measure of historic solace from the Bears' decisive loss to Iowa on Jan. 1, 1959.  As the years passed, Hart's friends began introducing him as the last Cal player to score a touchdown in the Rose Bowl. Hart would smile and say, "No, only the most recent." The line usually got a few laughs - and still does when he delivers it today.

"But it's not as funny as it was 20 years ago," Hart said. This captures the mixed emotions of Cal's former players on the impending 50th anniversary of the school's last (or most recent) New Year's Day appearance in Pasadena. Fifty years ago Thursday, the Bears of coach Pete Elliott, quarterback Joe Kapp and Hart charged out of the tunnel at the Rose Bowl as champions of the Pacific Coast Conference. It was an impressive achievement, especially considering Cal managed only one victory the year before. The Bears won six of their seven conference games during the 1958 season, earning the trip to Pasadena by squeezing out a dramatic win over Stanford in the Big Game. Back then, there were only eight bowl games. And the Rose Bowl already waded in prestige, was on its way to becoming a slice of American culture with its sunny weather, colorful parade floats and grand tradition. Still, nothing came to glorify the accomplishment of Cal's 1958 team more than this: A half-century later, the Bears haven't been back.

Bob Gonzales, a reserve lineman in '58 and later a longtime member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, recently went on a cruise with his wife, Myrna. Gonzales wore his Cal visor each morning when he exercised, and one day another gentleman struck up a conversation about the Bears. The man's wife proudly boasted that he attended Cal's last Rose Bowl game.  Gonzales almost felt sheepish when Myrna mentioned he played in the game. "There are people who take great joy in just saying they were there when Cal played in the Rose Bowl," Gonzales said. At the time, it was not such a crazy concept: The Bears reached the Rose Bowl three consecutive times (1948, '49 and '50 seasons) only a few years earlier. Plus, Cal's baseball team won the College World Series in '57 and the basketball team would win the NCAA championship in March 1959.  So when the Bears made it four Rose Bowl berths in 11 seasons, the players graduated figuring their alma mater would return from time to time. But then Elliott departed for his native Illinois, Berkeley became consumed by the Free Speech Movement and war protests, Cal's administration de-emphasized athletics for a time and the Bears faded into irrelevance most years. Next thing the '58 players knew, they were walking onto the field at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 25, to commemorate the golden anniversary of Cal's last successful run for the Roses.  "We're not crazy about the distinction," halfback Hank Olguin said. "I'd much rather have gone to some Rose Bowls along the way." Or, as Kapp said bluntly, "Nobody could imagine 50 years. It's embarrassing."

Troubled times

The 1950s were a time of upheaval for West Coast college football. A scandal engulfed the Pacific Coast Conference in '56 - booster clubs at Washington, UCLA, USC and Cal were found to have made illegal payments to players - and prompted UC administrators to re-examine the role of intercollegiate athletics. That led to the dissolution of the PCC in 1959; five of its nine members formed the Athletic Association of Western Universities, which eventually morphed into the Pac-8 and later the Pac-10. Cal's program had its own change in leadership: Coach Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf retired after the '56 season and Elliott was hired in January 1957. At 30, he was the youngest coach in school history, a former Michigan quarterback who had been groomed on Bud Wilkinson's staff at Oklahoma and then spent one season as Nebraska's head coach. Elliott installed the Split-T offense, a forerunner of the Wishbone, and went 1-9 in his inaugural season. Kapp said the adversity of that year, full of frustrating losses (four by six points or fewer), helped create a strong bond among the players who returned in '58. "These men had a cohesiveness and camaraderie, and that was one of the reasons they played so well," said Elliott, now 82 and living in Canton, Ohio, where he was the longtime director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "They had great attitudes. They wanted to play and they were there for each other."

Said Hart: "You had to buy in or get the hell out."

Kapp and Hart made sure their teammates got the message. They both started as sophomores in 1956, during Waldorf's final season, and were not at all bashful about filling their role as co-captains under Elliott in '58. Former Cal players still marvel about the leadership of Kapp and Hart. Pat Newell, the nephew of Hall of Fame basketball coach Pete Newell and an undersized tackle on the Rose Bowl team, remembered the way Kapp would step into the huddle, a wide grin on his face, and challenge Newell to block his man on the upcoming play.  "Joe and Jack were both so passionate about the game, about playing hard and winning," Newell said. "You didn't feel like they were just doing it for themselves - you felt like they were always encouraging you to do what they were doing." Kapp was famously rugged and tough - even today, at 70, his square jaw and wide-eyed intensity are striking - but Hart brought similar qualities. During one practice, as Cal's offense worked on a reverse, Hart collided with a defensive end and had two teeth knocked out. Soon thereafter, on the same play, the same thing happened.  Hart wanted to keep practicing the play until the Bears got it right, but an assistant coach intervened by saying, "Jack can't afford to lose any more teeth." Hart sometimes imposed his passion on others. After Cal lost its first two games in 1958, Hart noticed one teammate going half-speed during practice. That's also how the player looked on film the previous game, Hart thought, so he grabbed the guy and ruthlessly ran him into a nearby concrete wall.  "It was about, 'Get with the program, get your fanny moving,' " Hart said. "That probably had an impact on the way he practiced the rest of the year."

'58 team was small, quick

Cal hardly overwhelmed opponents on its path to Pasadena. The Bears fielded a collection of solid players, one great quarterback in Kapp and a widely respected coach in Elliott. They were smart (seldom penalized), small and quick. They also benefited from the substitution rule, which prevented players from returning to the game in that quarter if they came out for even one play. The rule helped the Bears in some ways, because they had a modest core of players who did several things well. Most starters played both offense and defense and took pride in their versatility; guard/linebacker Pete Domoto later looked through old statistics and discovered he averaged 41 minutes per game during the '58 season.

The PCC's relative weakness didn't hurt, either. "I hate to admit this, but I think it was a down point in the league," said Gonzales, now a lawyer in San Francisco. "There weren't great teams that year - we were a good team and so we rose to the top." Cal came back from early losses to Pacific (led by halfback Dick Bass) and Michigan State to string together four consecutive victories. Tom Bates, then a Cal tight end and now mayor of Berkeley, recalled some fans shouting, "We smell roses," during the streak, but few really expected the Bears to reach Pasadena. Then, after falling at Oregon State, they pulled out narrow wins over UCLA and Washington. That set up an electric Big Game, with Cal needing to beat Stanford to earn the conference title. Before a boisterous crowd of 81,490 at Memorial Stadium, the Bears won 16-15 when Bill Patton stopped Stanford's two-point-conversion try with less than two minutes left. The euphoria lasted exactly 40 days, until the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl. Iowa, ranked No. 2 behind LSU in the final Associated Press poll, promptly steamrolled Cal, handing the Bears a humbling 38-12 defeat. Now, a full 50 years later, that remains Cal's last taste of the granddaddy of them all. The Bears came close in 1975 and '91 and 2004 and '06, each time bringing groans of frustration among the '58 players. These are not the old Miami Dolphins, raising a toast when the last unbeaten NFL team falls. These are Old Blues, wondering when their alma mater will end its drought, the longest among original Pac-8 schools.

About 40 of them gathered for another reunion in October, mostly three days of imbibing and reminiscing at Patton's home in Lafayette. Elliott spoke to this year's Cal team the day before its win over UCLA, and then the '58 players savored the crowd's ovation when they were introduced during the game. Patton joked that some of them needed 20 minutes to return to their seats, given aging limbs. The players are not eager for ongoing introductions as the last Rose Bowl team.

"We all hope the Bears get back soon, while we're still around," Newell, 70, said. "I can't last another 50 years."

The 1958 Bears

A game-by-game look at Cal's 1958 season (7-4 overall, 6-1 Pacific Coast Conference):


Date Opponent Score

Sept. 20 Pacific L, 24-20

Sept. 27 at Michigan State L, 32-12

Oct. 4 Washington State W, 34-14

Oct. 11 Utah W, 36-21

Oct. 18 at USC W, 14-12

Oct. 25 Oregon W, 23-6

Nov. 1 at Oregon State L, 14-6

Nov. 8 UCLA W, 20-17

Nov. 15 at Washington W, 12-7

Nov. 22 Stanford W, 16-15

Jan. 1 Iowa, Rose Bowl L, 38-12


What was said


"In the true tradition of the Pacific Coast Conference, California's Golden Bears were humiliated by the State University of Iowa football forces, 38-12, this slightly smoggy afternoon."

- Bill Leiser, Chronicle sports editor's lead from game story in the Jan. 2, 1959, Sporting Green. Iowa's romp made it 12 wins for the Big Ten in the first 13 years of its agreement to meet the Pacific Coast Conference champion in the Rose Bowl.


“Blinding speed displayed by Bob Jeter, Willie Fleming and Ray Jauch left the Bears helpless and hopeless in defense of their own goal, whether it was merely 4 or 81 yards away."

- From Leiser's story


"After Jeter's TD, which made it 32-6, the Coast fans turned to their escapist tactics. These included taking movie shots for artistic effect, doodling on the program and leaving."

- Mike Berger's story in the Sporting Green on Jan. 2, 1959.


"We were ready to play the game, but they were such a big, strong team and such a fast team. We had not faced speed like that. ... It was an unfulfilling feeling after the game, that we didn't play well and came up short. It's an ache in my heart."

- Joe Kapp, Cal quarterback reflecting recently


"I remember taking a step, turning to the right, seeing (Iowa's) Bob Jeter and thinking, 'I'm going to get you SOB.' Then he made a cut and scored a touchdown."

- Bob Gonzales, Bears reserve lineman's most vivid memory 50 years later


"I remember Forest Evashevski, the Iowa coach, saying their tackle was 320 pounds and ours was 180, so they were going to make a highway out of us. And that's pretty much what they did."

- Bill Patton, Cal fullback's recollection


"I had a brother, Bump, who was an assistant coach at Iowa, so I knew a lot about them. That was probably one of the best teams in Iowa history. They felt they were good and they were. ... I think our players realize we played OK, we just got beat by a really good football team. It would have been a lot more fun if we had won."

- Pete Elliott, former Cal coach reflecting on the '59 Rose Bowl - he was on the winning Rose Bowl team as Michigan's quarterback in 1948 and later as Illinois' coach in 1964

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle: Still a Cal leader, a half century later

By Ron Kroichick


Twenty-six years after his players weaved through the Stanford band and 22 years after his alma mater fired him for not winning enough games as head coach, Joe Kapp insisted he still hasn't allowed himself any tequila. Kapp's eyes twinkled as he spoke.  "I'm thinking about asking for a papal dispensation," he said, his voice rising. "Does it count if I go on the other side of the border and have tequila? On the other hand, when are we going to the Rose Bowl?!"  During his unsuccessful run as Cal's coach (1982-86), Kapp promised to sacrifice his drink of choice until the Bears won the Rose Bowl. He didn't imagine the vow would remain relevant on the brink of New Year's Day 2009, a half-century since Kapp, an All-America quarterback, guided Cal to the Pacific Coast Conference championship.  Even 50 years later, Kapp's old teammates described his leadership in reverential tones. Fullback Bill Patton remembered Kapp gathering the Bears before the third game of the 1958 season, against Washington State, and loudly declaring, "Anybody who doesn't think we're going to win, get ... off the field!"

Nobody left - and, yes, Cal won decisively. Tom Bates, then Cal's tight end and now mayor of Berkeley, recalled the Bears' late-season game against Washington. The score was tied in the second half, with rain falling on a cold, bleak day in Seattle. Kapp approached the line of scrimmage during a timeout and started screaming at the Huskies' defensive players, essentially telling them the Bears would kick their tails during the game and afterward, too.  Kapp then returned to the huddle and warned his teammates he had just picked a fight, so they better be ready.  "He did it to motivate us," Bates said, chuckling at the memory. "We were all cold and tired, really exhausted. Suddenly, we had to fight for our lives thanks to Joe." (Cal won 12-7).  Beyond that one episode, Bates said of Kapp, "Joe was the difference. He was a phenomenal leader - I've never come across anyone like Joe in my 30 years of public service. He would not accept anything but a victory."


San Francisco Chronicle: Cal football thinking big for next season

By Rusty Simmons


Cal coach Jeff Tedford had every excuse to cop out, having lost nearly half of the starting lineup from a team that went 7-6 in 2007.  Instead of labeling 2008 a "rebuilding year," however, Tedford led his squad through a quarterback quagmire to win the games it was supposed to and possibly a spot in the Top 25 in the final polls. Despite an inconsistent passing game, an injury-plagued offensive line and a revamped defense, the Bears beat their rival, avenged an embarrassing loss to Washington in authoritative fashion, finished 9-4 and have high hopes for the future. "It's not easy to win nine games," Tedford said. "I know we'll continue to come back and work hard for next season, but for these guys to go out with nine wins, I think it's something they can really be proud of." And it's something on which Cal can build. The Bears lose only six starters, and the replacements at five of the spots are obvious. "We are looking for a national championship," sophomore tailback Jahvid Best said in the post-Emerald Bowl excitement.  Best's quote is similar to that of DeSean Jackson after a Holiday Bowl win in 2006 and Brandon Mebane after a Las Vegas Bowl victory in 2005, but Best may have a more valid argument. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory turned last season's scapegoat into the team's backbone by switching the unit to a 3-4 alignment in the offseason. The defense allowed 315.2 yards of total offense a game, the school's lowest total since 1994, and intercepted 24 passes, the best mark since 1948.

The next defense has the chance to be just as good. The unit loses 700 career tackles from linebackers Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams, but it returns six guys who got a lot of playing time at linebacker, including one who's on the verge of stardom. Sophomore Mike Mohamed finished second on the team with 87 tackles and had three interceptions. Freshman Mychal Kendricks is so talented that Cal couldn't redshirt him, but he might not be good enough to break the starting foursome next year. The starting defensive line is back, including all-Pac-10 end Tyson Alualu and big-play-waiting-to-happen Cameron Jordan. Alualu had 62 tackles, a ridiculous number for a lineman, and Jordan showed signs of being a guy who will draw consistent double teams. The entire secondary returns, including four guys with at least three interceptions, and a redshirt class that defensive back coach Al Simmons says will push the starters. As the season neared its conclusion, opposing coaches pondered how to pass against the Bears, because corners Syd'Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan had become so dominant. "Obviously, both of us want to make the most plays, and that keeps us going and makes us good as a duo," Thompson said. Any conversation about the offense starts with Best, who after back-to-back losses to USC and Oregon State, carried his team. He ran for 698 yards and nine touchdowns, and averaged 12 yards a carry over the final three games - all wins. The offense is losing part of what makes it click in center Alex Mack and right guard Noris Malele, but it also returns six linemen who started at least one game and could return seven, if tackle Mike Tepper is granted a sixth year by the NCAA.

Redshirt freshman Mitchell Schwartz is the best of the bunch, being moved to the money position of left tackle after only three starts and getting the rave review of being "brilliant" by the "Academic Heisman" winner, Mack. Chris Guarnero, who got a game ball in one of his three starts before season-ending toe surgery, will succeed Mack, and as many as three tackles with at least five career starts will be competing for one position. The biggest loss on offense could be fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou, who was the lead blocker for two of the best rushing seasons in Cal history. Brian Holley and John Tyndall will get the first shot at the position, but College of the Canyons transfer Sean Quinn could take over. Also, we could see more two tight-end sets since Best's three-game tear to end the season came at the same time the Bears started getting tight end Tad Smith on the field with Cameron Morrah more often. "Look at all of the positions that you think are filled. There was a time when someone stepped up at those positions, too," redshirt freshman tailback Shane Vereen said. "These guys will do the same." The quarterback thing is a little trickier. Sophomore Kevin Riley couldn't hold the spot, and senior Nate Longshore couldn't find the magic he had in 2006. Riley went from being the fan favorite to fall guy. Now, they want redshirt freshman Brock Mansion, who most have never seen attempt a pass. Tedford says the job is open.

"A quarterback is going to lead a team, and it depends on us how far we can go," Riley said. "If we want to take this program to an elite level and compete with USC for the Pac-10, it's on us to make some plays and get this going."

Return of many

Cal will return several top players from 2008 next season, including its top running backs and receivers, top six defensive backs and top four in tackles for loss.


San Francisco Examiner: Examining Golden Bears Emerald Bowl Victory Raises Some Concerns

By Rob Calonge


Now that the dust has begun to settle and Bear Backers are still aglow from the win, it's time to take an objective look at some of the things that weren't so 'glowy' about the team's play on Saturday night. What's troubling, and should be troubling to Coach Tedford is that the following concerns were problems for most of the season as well. While the Bears allowed the Hurricanes to score, I don't think anyone seriously went into the game expecting the Cal to shut them out. While I'm sure that Bob Gregory has probably broken down every play and graded out players individually, as a unit the defense was the best Cal offered on bowl night. We won't be bothering the defense with this discussion, but it's interesting to note that Miami head coach Randy Shannon let go of his offensive coordinator on Monday. It must be more about the season and not the bowl, right?

On special teams, you have to wonder about the place kicking. Return teams and coverage units were solid and Bryan Anger punted well enough to show his promise, but what about the other kicker? More than one kicker operated as place-kicker, but getting good kickoffs with consistency was an issue during the season and one seen on Saturday night. Giorgio Tavecchio seems to have the leg strength to boot the ball in the endzone on every kickoff, but he's not doing it. He also missed a field goal during the game - one that was basically a chip shot and could have affected the outcome. I'm not saying that there's a problem with Tavecchio or his coach Pete Alamar, just that this is an issue that must be fixed for next year. Maybe we've been spoiled with a Cal offense that has always been the story, but this was the first year that Tedford wasn't working with the offense and it was also the first year that the offense was this inconsistent. While it's understandable that offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti would take time to get the offense on his page, let's focus on the Emerald Bowl which is more about play calling.

Why were the Bears calling plays suited for Kevin Riley and not Nate Longshore? Too often, they were asking Longshore to play in a West Coast style of gameplan. Longshore didn't play well, there's no question about that, but some of the playcalling was frustrating. Longshore is made to throw over the top of the defense, and his weakness is throwing curls and screens or throwing on the run, which brings us to...

At first you don't succeed, try something else - Why so many screens? Against a faster defense, you have to trick them. After the Bears had tried and failed to trick them four or five times with the screen pass, they should have tried something else. The one slant pattern they attempted worked, which is the right call when a fast defense is putting eight men in the box. When something does work - do it until it doesn't: It took over three quarters until Cignetti finally forced Miami to stop the run. They weren't able to. This begs the question: Why didn't he do that more often in the first three quarters? Jahvid Best was outstanding and the off tackle run around the right side was unstoppable against Miami, but the same was true when Shane Vereen was running the ball too. Running more in the first half would've opened the defense up in the second half and kept their own defense off of the field.

Kevin Daft served his first season as receivers coach. It didn't go well. Daft was a quarterback for UC Davis, and a good one. He was so good at quarterback that he played for the Titans in the NFL. Last season, he was the quarterbacks coach, and while he is probably best suited for that job, we're willing to give him a pass on this season as we saw Jeremy Ross and Nyan Boateng improve throughout the year. It would've been nice if we could've seen more of them in the Emerald Bowl. While these are complaints about Cal's performance on a national stage, this is not a call for anyone's head. The hope is that the Bears will continue to improve both in player performance and playcalling. Jim Michalczik's job with the line was not his finest, but since he has a proven track record, we wouldn't have made much out of that. It's easy to backseat drive or Monday morning quarterback, but when your offense passes for only 121 yards, and rushes for 217 in a game you should've dominated, something has to be said. Now that we have that out of the way....

Tedford Signs Sean Michael

Not a lot of news about Cal right now, so here's a photo of Jeff Tedford
signing my son Sean back in 2004 (and yes, that is my wife). I'll be
monitoring all recruiting news on this blog, so stay tuned in the off
season. Go Bears, and as always, beat SC!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Momentum building for Cal's next big thing?


By Gary Peterson

If you're one of those stadium-fund-half-empty types, you couldn't help but notice, in the wake of Saturday night's Emerald Bowl, that Cal's Bears exited the 2008 season the same way they entered it — with uncertainty under center.  Outgoing senior Nate Longshore quarterbacked Cal to a 24-17 victory over Miami. Longshore's night was a success in the minimalist sense — he completed 10-of-21 attempts for 121 yards, and threw the game-winning touchdown on his final pass as a collegian. Sophomore Kevin Riley has two seasons left, but didn't get into Saturday's game. Thus, the denouement plays out the same as after last December's bowl win — a casting call for the next great Jeff Tedford quarterback, this one figuring to feature Riley and redshirt freshman Brock Mansion. A bad thing? Not if you're the rain-gauge-half-full sort. In that event, you're convinced the Bears are miles ahead of where they finished last season. Or at least 1,580 yards, that being the final rushing total for sophomore tailback Jahvid Best.

It is being neither inaccurate nor unkind to suggest that Best was the only consistently productive component to Cal's offense Saturday night. He gained an Emerald Bowl record 186 yards on 20 carries, and it's safe to say the threat he represented was a factor in the 152 yards Cal gained on its 31 Jahvid-free plays.

Tedford explained it this way: Longshore managed a fine game, considering how Miami kept Cal's receivers bottled up. And Best, well, he's a fine talent who benefitted from some stellar play by his offensive line and fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou. "We had to mix it up a little," Tedford said. "We weren't just going to line (Best) up and run downhill on them every down." It seemed like it at times, especially in the first half. Longshore's biggest pass of the night, a 74-yarder to Verran Tucker, put the Bears on the Miami 2-yard line. It took Best two tries, but he scurried in from a yard out for the game's first score.

His next carry produced the game's second score. On the first and last play of Cal's next drive, Best took off on a breathtaking 42-yard dash around the left side. He almost comically sped away from Miami linebacker Glenn Cook, who would have had an advantageous angle on anyone else in a blue and gold uniform. "We made a few mistakes, and he took advantage," Cook said. "He's a great back. We didn't do enough."  Certainly not in the first half — Best had 106 yards on 10 carries when the teams broke for intermission with Cal up 14-7. The Bears bogged down in the third quarter, during which Miami tied the game. The teams traded field goals, then Best authored his final impact play.

His 19-yard run got Cal off and running on its penultimate drive. Though he left the game at that point with an injured right hand, the Bears drove to the Miami 17. That drive ended with a missed field goal try, but it left the Hurricanes backed up in their own territory. That's where Zack Follett sacked Jacory Harris, forcing a fumble that led to Longshore's game-winning throw. Best was voted the offensive player of the game and wound up on a riser on the field, addressing the residue of a predominantly Cal crowd. When it was suggested that his breakout sophomore season might lead to Heisman candidacy as a junior, he replied:

"I'd rather talk about a national championship."

That'll set off Tedford's acid reflux when he finds out about it. But Saturday night, it was all milk and honey.

"Not only is he really talented," Tedford said, "but he's a great young man. He plays with a lot of heart. He gets a lot of respect from his teammates. His ability speaks for itself."  So does his stature, as Cal prepares to segue from this 9-4 season into its next great adventure. When last seen Saturday night, Best was walking through the undercarriage of AT&T Park, autographing a football for a young fan. A cursive "J" and "B" adorned his triceps. The silver inscription on the football spoke loudest of all:

"Jahvid Best



Miami Herald: Miami Hurricanes fall to Cal Bears in Emerald Bowl


Cal's Jahvid Best ran for an Emerald Bowl-record 186 yards and two touchdowns, and a late Bears touchdown set up by Jacory Harris' fumble sent UM to defeat.

SAN FRANCISCO -- California running back Jahvid Best once wanted to be a Miami Hurricane.  The Hurricanes only wish he were.  After winning five games in a row to carry them into late November, the Hurricanes fizzled in their last three, including Saturday's 24-17 heart-pounding loss to California in the Emerald Bowl.  On third-and-8 from the Miami 22-yard line, Cal linebacker Zach Follett grabbed UM quarterback Jacory Harris from behind and sacked him with 3:28 left, forcing the fumble that changed the game. Cal teammate Cameron Jordon scooped up the ball and charged 6 yards to the 2-yard line.

Two plays later, tight end Anthony Miller caught the 2-yard play-action pass for the deciding touchdown in front of an Emerald Bowl record crowd of 42,268 at AT&T Park. ''We said if we could get into the fourth quarter we'd have a great shot to win it, but unfortunately they made a play we couldn't make,'' UM coach Randy Shannon said. Down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Hurricanes made a valiant comeback to tie the score at 17 with 9:13 left in the final quarter.

UM's last score came on a 22-yard field goal by Matt Bosher, the drive propelled by a running-into-the-kicker penalty by Cal's Brett Johnson. Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio could have put Cal ahead with 4:24 left in the game, but his 34-yard field-goal attempt was wide right. Best, the offensive player of the game, set an Emerald Bowl rushing record with 186 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.  ''We're after a national championship next year,'' Best told the crowd after being announced as a Heisman hopeful for next season.

UM ended its 2008 season 7-6, and Cal was 9-4.  Freshman Harris, who started his second game of the season after usual starter Robert Marve was suspended, completed 25 of 41 passes for 194 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked twice. ''My shoulder is messed up,'' said Harris, who injured his throwing shoulder Nov. 29 at North Carolina State, ``but at the same time I've got to go out there and play a football game. Injured or not, I've got to make the throws.'' Cal quarterback Nate Longshore, a senior, completed 10 of 21 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.  UM had 313 yards and Cal had 338. Graig Cooper led UM runners with 63 yards. But it was redshirt freshman Lee Chambers who dazzled in the second half.

Chambers, who entered the game with nine rushes all season, had nine carries for 60 yards late in the game. His carries, which included runs of 10, 17 and 14 yards, helped the Hurricanes get close enough for the game-tying field goal.  The Hurricanes got the game's first turnover with 11:06 left in the opening quarter, but didn't make it count. UM linebacker Romeo Davis stripped the ball from running back Shane Vereen, and safety JoJo Nicolas recovered. But the Canes went backward two of three plays and were forced to punt. It was almost all Cal for the rest of the first quarter. The Bears charged 74 yards down the right sideline on a pass from Nate Longshore to wide receiver Verran Tucker on the next play -- the longest pass play allowed by UM in bowl history. Cornerback Brandon Harris was the initial defender and sprinted down the field behind Tucker. Safety Ryan Hill finally tackled Tucker as he approached the end zone. The play was initially called a touchdown, but UM challenged it and officials said Tucker's knee had touched the turf at the 2-yard line. No matter. Best scored two plays later from 1 yard out.

Cal led 7-0 with 7:15 left in the first quarter. Again, UM was stopped, and Best needed only one play to sprint 42 yards through the heart of the Hurricane defense for a touchdown, 14-0 lead and longest rushing score in Emerald Bowl history. After an exchange of possessions, UM took over with 2:22 left in the first quarter. On third-and-2 from the UM 28, Hurricanes fans must have done a double take. Harris threw a short pass to a person wearing No. 84, normally tight end Richard Gordon. But Gordon was suspended for the game and it was, instead, usual UM offensive tackle Tyrone Byrd converted into a tight end.

The ball skimmed off Byrd's hands and into the hands of teammate Javarris James for UM's initial first down of the night. On the final play of the quarter, Harris connected to Leonard Hankerson for a 41-yard completion. UM continued the spark with Harris' 11-yard run on third-and-8 from the Cal 26. Javarris James dropped what would have been a touchdown in the left back corner of the end zone, but two plays later, freshman LaRon Byrd leaped over cornerback Darian Hagan in the end zone for a touchdown.

With 12:54 left in the first half, UM trailed 14-7. The 10-play, 80-yard drive took 4:28 to unfold. At halftime, Cal had outrushed Miami 105 to 31 -- Best gaining 106 and two running scores. Harris had 93 passing yards with the one touchdown and one pick. Longshore had 92 yards.



SF Chronicle: Miami frustrated by close loss to Cal

By Michelle Smith


Miami was making a mad dash out of the visitors' locker room at AT&T Park following the 24-17 loss to Cal in the Emerald Bowl, trying to get to the airport in time for the red-eye flight back to Florida. That left little time for introspection and disappointment, at least not until the long plane ride. The Hurricanes probably spent the cross-country trek digesting how they managed to allow Cal to beat them in scouting-report fashion. Their most obvious mandates - wrap up Cal tailback Jahvid Best and keep Bears linebacker Zack Follett away from freshman quarterback Jacory Harris - were unaccomplished objectives despite two weeks of work on the practice field.  Best finished with an Emerald Bowl record for rushing yards (186) and Follett made the play of the game, stripping Harris from behind with 3:28 to go to set up the Bears' game-winning score. And thus Miami (7-6) finished the season with three straight losses after its comeback fell short.

"It's a tough, tough loss," Miami coach Randy Shannon said after his first bowl game. "We did a great job to keep fighting in the fourth quarter. We said that if we could get it into the fourth quarter, we'd have a great shot to win it, but unfortunately, they made a play that we couldn't make." Miami got itself in a 14-0 hole in the first quarter by giving up big yards to Best. Best scored both first-quarter touchdowns for the Bears, the second on a 42-yard run over right tackle. Shannon said his players spent the past two weeks brushing up their tackling technique to deal with Best. Miami had given up a total of 691 rushing yards in its two losses leading into the Emerald Bowl. Senior linebacker Glenn Cook said the defense gave up too many big plays to Best. Best had six carries of at least 15 yards and averaged 9.3 yards per carry.

"He came out and we made a few mistakes," Cook said. "The last couple of weeks in the season, we've been making the same mistakes and he took advantage of it. We talked all week that he was a great player and it was going to be key for us to stop the run and we didn't do enough." The Cal defense ruled the early part of the game as Miami struggled mightily. The Hurricanes gained yardage on only one of their first four drives. In their first seven drives, the Hurricanes had five punts, an interception and one touchdown - a 9-yard pass from Harris to Laron Byrd.

Harris, the true freshman starting in place of redshirt freshman Robert Marve, finished the game 25-for-41 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He brought his team back from a two-touchdown deficit with some fine throws, hitting Thearon Collier for a 6-yard score in the third quarter to tie the game. "We settled down. We've gotten behind before, earlier in the season and were able to come back," Shannon said. "We knew we'd get back in the game. Our guys were patient and it happened. We got to the fourth quarter where we wanted to be, and we just couldn't finish it."

SF Chronicle: Bottom line: Cal comes up a winner with nine victories

By Jake Curtis


Bowl games are about bottom lines.  There is no next week, no chance to make up for missed opportunities or mess up what has been accomplished. No one is listening now if there are excuses to be made for failures or qualifications to diminish accomplishments. There is always next season, but that adds no detail to the picture drawn this season.  The image left by the bowl-game performance is the one that colors the entire season. Last season, the Bears slapped a pretty face on what was a disastrous season by edging an overmatched Air Force team in its bowl game.

This time, the Bears wrapped the season in a bow by winning what was virtually a home game against a team that traveled across the country, had lost its final two regular-season games to finish 4-4 in the mediocre Atlantic Coast Conference, and had to use a freshman quarterback limited by a shoulder injury making his second collegiate start because the regular starter had been suspended. And the Bears won because that Miami freshman (Jacory Harris) committed a turnover in the final four minutes that gave Cal the ball at the Hurricanes' 2-yard line.  The bottom line is that Nate Longshore threw the game-winning touchdown pass, forcing critics to quietly grumble and shrug their shoulders after he had spent the previous 57 minutes and 23 seconds keeping Miami in the game and drawing boos from the crowd.

Longshore was an enigma. Two years ago, he was outstanding, prompting the Sporting News to rate him the nation's No. 5 quarterback heading into the 2007 season. Midway through last season, he lost it, an ankle injury sending him on an inexplicable, never-ending downward spiral. He started just three games this season in coach Jeff Tedford's never-ending search for a reliable starting quarterback, something essential for any team with top-20 aspirations. Longshore went the whole way Saturday, only the second time this season a Cal quarterback played the entire game, but aside from a 74-yard completion - about 64 of which were covered by Verran Tucker's running - Longshore was a mere 9-for-20 for 47 yards.

Longshore is a stand-up guy, admirable in nearly every sense of the term student-athlete. You'd love to have him as your friend, your boss, your babysitter, your co-worker, your senator or your bodyguard if your life depended on him. You might not want him as your quarterback in 2008, though. But - and buts are big in bottom-line discussions - Tedford never considered replacing Longshore, and Longshore threw that game-winning scoring pass.  "We made the plays when we needed to," Tedford said. It's a cliche, almost a copout when no explanation is readily available, but it is the biggest difference between consistent losers and consistent winners. Longshore ends up looking like a poised, clutch performer, and Tedford ends up looking smart for keeping his faith in Longshore.

The bottom line is that Jahvid Best will be one of the preseason front-runners for the Heisman Trophy next fall. The fact that he rushed for 698 yards in his final three games and averaged over 8 yards a carry for the season will be repeated countless times between now and August.  What will be noted less often is that fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou is a senior and will not be back next year. No one is more aware than Best that Ta'ufo'ou's lead blocking played a major role in Best's eye-popping stats. Best needs that crack of daylight to make plays, and Ta'ufo'ou provided it. The final bottom line is that Cal wound up almost exactly where it was expected to finish. The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10, and they finished fourth. They were ranked just outside the Top 25 in preseason polls, and they probably will finish just outside the Top 25.

Their defense, currently third nationally in takeaways, and Best got them to the 9-4 mark. Skaky quarterback play prevented anything more than expected, and that position will be the focus of the offseason. But again Tedford presented the bottom-line argument: "It's not easy to win nine games."

It's only the fifth time since 1950 Cal has won nine or more games in a season, and three of them have come in the past five years. The fact that they did it this time without a passing threat makes it rather impressive if you think about it.

Contra Costa Times: Cal surges past Miami for Emerald Bowl victory

By Jonathan Okanes


With the last game of the season on the line, Cal's present passed to the future.  Fifth-year senior Nate Longshore found freshman tight end Anthony Miller for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 2:41 remaining, lifting the Bears to a 24-17 victory over Miami in the Emerald Bowl.  It was the first catch of Miller's career.  "It obviously feels good," said Longshore, who ended his topsy-turvy career by completing 10 of 21 passes for 121 yards in front of a sellout crowd of 42,268 at AT&T Park. "It always feels good to win, especially in a bowl game. It feels good to go out on top." The victory gave Coach Jeff Tedford his third nine-victory season in his seven years at Cal. It also was his fourth consecutive bowl victory and gives the Bears (9-4) a good chance to appear in the final national rankings for the fourth time in five years.

"It's not easy to win nine games," Tedford said. "That's a nice accomplishment for this team. "...For these guys to go out with nine wins is something they can really be proud of."  Cal tailback Jahvid Best was named offensive player of the game after rushing for an Emerald Bowl-record 186 yards and two touchdowns, giving him momentum for a possible Heisman Trophy campaign next season. Best finished with 1,580 yards, the second-highest single-season total in Cal history. He also tied Justin Forsett and J.J. Arrington for the single-season record with 15 rushing touchdowns.

When asked about the Heisman, Best said: "We are looking for a national championship."  While Longshore had the winning touchdown pass, it was another senior, linebacker Zack Follett, who set it up. After Cal's Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt that could have snapped a 17-17 tie, the Hurricanes took over at their 20. On third down, Follett got his second sack of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned to the 2 by defensive end Cameron Jordan. Longshore hit Miller two plays later. Follett was named the defensive player of the game with a game-high nine tackles, two sacks, four tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble. "We all know Zack is the sack master," Jordan said. "If you need a big play, Zack is going to come up with it." Miller played primarily on special teams this season and usually got offensive reps only on the goal line. He said his touchdown was just his third offensive rep of the game and he had only a few others all season.

Miller is the third-string tight end, and the two players ahead of him — Cameron Morrah and Tad Smith — are both returning. Another highly regarded freshman, Spencer Ladner, redshirted this season. Longshore said he didn't have any reservations throwing to Miller despite his lack of experience. "Oh, he's good," Longshore said. "I wasn't throwing it to just anybody out there. Anthony Miller is going to be a great player. He has a lot of potential, that's for sure." The winning play was designed to go to Morrah, but he was covered. Miller was in the back of the end zone directly behind Morrah, who reached up to try to catch the pass. "We practice that play probably every day of the year," Longshore said. "It's one of the staples that we have. I saw that yellow flashing across the back of the end zone with nobody on him, so I had to jump on it."

The Bears got off to a hot start, taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on two touchdown runs by Best. His first score was set up by a 74-yard pass from Longshore to wide receiver Verran Tucker. On the Bears' next possession, Best scored on the first play, starting right and cutting back left for a 42-yard score.

The Hurricanes came back with a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that started in the first quarter. They tied it at 14 with another 10-play drive early in the third quarter. Cal had to settle for Tavecchio's 23-yard field goal after a 12-play possession that included Best's 25-yard run on fourth-and-one from the Miami 30. But the Bears lost a touchdown opportunity when Longshore tripped and fell while dropping to pass on third-and-goal at the 1. Miami kicker Matt Bosher tied it at 17 with a 22-yard field goal with 9:13 left, culminating a drive that was prolonged after Cal's Brett Johnson was called for running into the kicker on fourth down.

"These seniors have done a good job, to bounce back from what we went through last year," Follett said. "I take my hat off to all of them."

SF Examiner: Golden Bears avoid Emerald Bowl upset

By Rob Calonge


Doing this job can be pretty humbling at times, especially when you make predictions that in hindsight look pretty half-baked.  It was in this space that the following was predicted: "If Best does what he normally does, Miami will be blown out by the half."  It stings a little just reading now.  Hours later, it's still hard to imagine that the Bears nearly suffered their second bowl defeat during the Tedford Era.  Luckily for Bear Backers, they didn't.

The Bears struggled on offense and they weren't able to keep the momentum from swinging Miami's way in a hard-fought battle in which Cal came out on top 24-17.  The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter due in large part by a 74-yard pass by Nate Longshore to Verran Tucker to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Jahvid Best.  The next touchdown was a 42-yard highlight reel scamper that put the Bears in full control.


There were a lot of opportunities left behind, but it was good to get the W...It felt good to win another bowl game, for the program and the team. Miami's a great team...

- Longshore about the win


That control didn't last very long.  Miami was able to get a 41-yard pass at the end of the first quarter from freshman Jacory Harris to Leonard Hankerson that quickly shifted the momentum of the game towards the Hurricanes.  Cal's defense was outstanding, but the lack of a Cal offensive drive wore them down until Miami tied the game at 14 midway through the third quarter. 


Before the game that was what we wanted to do, jump out to a big lead. We thought they might quit, but they didn't. Good job on them. But we just kept fighting and got it done in the end.

- Best on Cal's quick start


Cal would go back on top 17-14 before the third quarter ended, but the Hurricanes answered back with a field goal of their own to tie the game at 17 with 9:13 left to play.  The Bears drove down the field on the following drive, but stalled at Miami's 17-yard line, where freshman kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed the 34-yarder with 4:24 left in the game.  It was at that point in the game, the mood at AT&T Park was very somber for the fans in blue and gold.  Miami had been driving at will, the Cal defense had been on the field what seemed like most of the night, and the incredible Hurricane freshman was ready to do what he had done nearly his entire life, (I have to check this out, but it was mentioned that he'd won 39 straight games that he'd started going back to high school - incredible).


I know I have to go out there and win the football game. Injured or not I have to make the play. If coach calls for the deep ball, I have to make the deep ball. I threw it as far as I could and then [WR Leonard] Hankerson made a play for me. It's just something that coach knows we've been working on and I just need to take what the defense is going to give me. I kind of slipped up a little bit on the interception but other than that I just took what the defense gave me.

- Harris on his play in the game


After an incomplete pass and a two yard rush, Harris dropped back to pass.  Instead of finding another open receiver, he found Cal's captain 'bear'-ing down on him.  The senior Zack Follett made the play of the game when sacking Harris and forcing a fumble that was recovered by Cameron Jordan at the Miami nine-yard line.  Jordan, scooped up the ball running in stride and advanced it to the Miami two with 3:28 remaining.

Two plays later, Longshore faked the hand-off to Best, rolled to his right, and under pressure zinged the winning touchdown pass over Cameron Morrah and into the waiting hands of backup tight end, Anthony Miller.  It was Miller's first career catch.  Miami got the ball back at their own 32-yard line, with 2:41 left, but they were only able to advance to their own 49 as the clock expired.  The star of the show on offense was Best.  He received Emerald Bowl MVP honors after setting a bowl record with 186 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.  The second touchdown of the day tied him for first all-time for most rushing touchdowns in a season with J.J. Arrington with 15.  He also put himself second behind Arrington for most rushing yards in a season with 1,580 yards gained for the year.  It's good that Best had such a good day.  The passing game was nearly non-existent as Longshore struggled to find rhythm with his receivers and suffered a chorus of boos by the end of the second quarter that would continue until the end of the game.


I didn't play like I wanted, I was too excited.

- Longshore on his play


(*Editorial aside - for the fans that were booing Longshore, it was probably the most embarrassing thing you could have done for the program.  Not only were you venting your frustration on the wrong person, but top recruits aren't going to want to play in front of so-called fans like that.  While Longshore wasn't playing well, the offensive line and his receivers helped to aid his woes.  Not only have you booed one of the better 'team' players on the Golden Bears, but you also booed one of the most prolific passers (5th on Cal's all-time list) in Bears history.  Great job.)


The fans were great. This was a home game, so we definitely had the advantage.

- Longshore on the fans (classy)


Follett made the most of his final game as a Cal Bear.  Not only did he 'show up' on national television, he was on camera so much that they had to give him the Defensive MVP award.  Follett had nine tackles (eight solo), four tackles for loss, one fumble forced, one break-up, two sacks, and one quarterback hit.  The soon-to-be NFL player was the driving force of a defense that was overused, but did an outstanding job of keeping the Bears in the game.


We couldn't let them come across the country and beat us in our backyard.

- Follett on beating Miami


Jeff Tedford made the call to start the maligned Longshore in his final game at Cal and while that was the big story leading up to the game, he was quick to point out that this game was won on defense.


Our defense played very well, especially in forcing turnovers. It was a total team effort. We have a lot of respect for Miami, but our defense stepped up. Defense played great all night long...Our defense played well. The turnover at the end was obviously the key. Miami has some tremendous athletes, but our defense really stepped it up.

- Tedford on the key to victory and the defense


For the year, Cal finished undefeated at home, and for those of you keeping score, this was also considered one of those games by Tedford and the Bears. 


I'm really proud of our seniors. Tonight was like another home game for us and we finished undefeated at home this season. I'm proud of our staff they really worked hard and did a tremendous job.

- Tedford on the season


As a team, that is it for the season, but at least five Bears will be making appearances in postseason games.  As always, we'll be following the offseason, recruiting, and all of the players entering the 2009 NFL Draft.  Check back over the next few days as we'll still be reporting and analysing the Bears season.  For the year, they finished at 9-4.  Whether or not Cal finishes the season is a ranked team will be determined on how good the voters think Miami is.  If they don't think Miami is very good, Cal will have to wait until the preseason rankings come out.  What I took from the game is that the Hurricanes are probably better than we thought, but not good enough to handle Cal as well as they did - in other words, a top-50 team, but not a top-25 team yet. If Cal is to improve next season, their offensive line will have to be much better than it was this season when it comes to the passing game.  Same goes for the receivers.  Chances are, the Bears will be much improved next season with a load of juniors with game experience and some marquee seniors coming back.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thoughts on the Emerald Bowl

1.    I can’t wait until next year to watch Jahvid Best.

2.    Zack Follett is a stud, and he’ll definitely be missed.  Hopefully it won’t be another rebuilding year on defense.

3.    I really like Longshore as a person.  But watching him play the entire game really left a bad taste in my mouth.  The passing game was non-existent.  Several of Longshore’s passes looked like they were tipped, even though they weren’t…they just sailed off to invisible receivers.  I truly do not believe that Anthony Miller was the intended receiver for the final go-ahead touchdown. 

4.    Thank god that Miami’s coach doesn’t put up with bad behavior and rule breaking.  If Miami had its QB and its other suspended players, I don’t think we would have won.  Our passing game was that bad.

5.    It was good to have a bowl win, but aside from Jahvid Best and the defense, it was an ugly game to watch.

Sports Network: Cal forces late turnover to edge Miami in Emerald Bowl

Nate Longshore threw the go-ahead two- yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller with 2:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, as California capitalized on a late turnover to beat Miami-Florida, 24-17, in the Emerald Bowl.

Jahvid Best ran for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries for the Golden Bears (9-4), who won their fourth straight bowl game. Longshore connected on 10-of-21 passes for 121 yards.  Zack Follett sacked Jacory Harris, forcing a fumble, and Cameron Jordan made the recovery, and the short return set up the Golden Bears at the two. After Best was stopped for no gain, Longshore rolled to his right and threw between defenders to the end zone to find Miller for the TD.

Harris completed 25-of-41 passes for 194 yards with a pair of TDs and an interception for the Hurricanes (7-6), who were short-handed due to five suspensions for players violating team rules under first-year coach Randy Shannon. That included starting QB Robert Marve. Others who missed the game were tight ends Richard Gordon and Tervaris Johnson, linebacker Jordan Futch and punt snapper Chris Ivory. Tight end Dedrick Epps didn't play because of a bruised leg.

After Cal's go-ahead TD, the Hurricanes wasted several precious seconds with a freshman at quarterback. Miami used a pair of timeouts in the third quarter, leaving them with little choice, but to try and conserve their final stoppage. Harris completed a 4th-and-1 pass to Chris Zellner, moving the ball to the Miami 44, but the Hurricanes used their last timeout with 12 seconds left to set up a 3rd-and-5 near midfield. Harris threw incomplete and then on the final play he was pressured from behind and Graig Cooper ended up getting the loose ball, but was stopped after a 14-yard gain.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Longshore will start bowl game for Cal

Cal Coach Jeff Tedford named Nate Longshore his starting quarterback for Saturday's Emerald Bowl against Miami, saying Longshore has "really had two of the better weeks I've seen Nate have at practice." Longshore, a fifth-year senior who lost his job at the beginning of the season after two years as the starter, will be under center at the beginning of the final game of his career.  "He's really sharp throwing the ball and has a really good command of what we're doing," Tedford said.  Sophomore Kevin Riley started the season's first four games but was inconsistent and replaced by Longshore for the next two games. Riley reclaimed the starting job and got the nod in five of the final six games of the regular season, missing one start because of a concussion. Longshore has also spent the second half of the season nursing a sore shoulder, an injury he sustained after Riley suffered the concussion against Oregon. "I think his shoulder is finally healthy," Tedford said. "He has a lot of zip on the ball, a lot of command of the offense. He's really accurate throwing it." Miami went 7-5 in the regular season and tied for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division. Some of the Bears say the Hurricanes would be a contender if they played in the Pac-10.

"They definitely would be in the top half," Cal linebacker Worrell Williams said. "They're up there with the SCs and the Oregons, the Oregon States and the Cals of our conference. They can compete." Tedford agreed: "They're comparable with the more athletic teams in our conference." The Emerald Bowl pep rally will take place at Yerba Buena Gardens at 11 a.m. today. The Bears will then have a final walk-through at AT&T Park.

Miami long snapper Chris Ivory will not play in Saturday's game because he violated an unspecified team rule.

SF Chronicle: Tedford Picks Longshore to Start

Senior Nate Longshore was named Cal's starting quarterback for Saturday's Emerald Bowl against Miami, coach Jeff Tedford said Thursday, ending a run of three starts for sophomore Kevin Riley.  "Nate has had a couple of really good weeks of practice, looking sharp throwing the ball and having great command of what we're doing," Tedford said. "He's had a lot of zip on the ball and has been really accurate. These are two of the better weeks I've seen Nate have here."  Longshore, the second-winningest quarterback in school history, lost the job in training camp, but has been relatively efficient with his opportunities to ride the Cal quarterback merry-go-round. He has completed 55.8 percent of his passes and thrown two touchdowns with no interceptions in his last three games.

In the same time span, Riley has connected on 43.1 percent of his passes, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Tedford says Riley, who is 6-3 as the starter, has continued to make the right reads but has missed too many throws.  Tedford said Riley will be competing with redshirt freshman Brock Mansion to regain the starting gig next year. "I think coach wants one of us to establish himself as the man, and it hasn't happened," Riley said.

Heisman hopeful: The 2009 Heisman race unofficially starts with this bowl season, and tailback Jahvid Best will have one of the best showcases with a prime-time Saturday game on ESPN.  "As far as I'm concerned, this is just two teams going out there and playing football," Best said. "All of the history behind you, all of the things you've done before, that doesn't matter anymore. "It's about how you prepare for this game and how you're going to win." Best has run for 512 yards in the last two games to bring his season total to 1,394 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

People are taking note. College Football News ranks Best as next year's No. 4 Heisman contender, behind quarterbacks Tim Tebow of Florida, Colt McCoy of Texas and Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State. "Uhhhhh, who? Non-USC Pac-10 players are normally ignored ... and no one outside of the Left Coast has any clue who Best is," CFN's Pete Fiutak wrote. "That's going to change in a big hurry as he'll be the hot under-the-radar-guy-who-suddenly-becomes-hip candidate."

Tepper update: Offensive tackle Mike Tepper said he has petitioned the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility and thinks there's about a "50-50" chance he'll be granted his wish.  Tepper, a 6-foot-7, 321-pounder, missed the entire season after offseason surgery on his pectoral muscle and a severely strained groin. He also missed the 2006 season after having his right fibula broken when he was hit by car while trying to protect a friend from harassment. The lone hiccup in his attempt to get an extra season is that he redshirted because of performance - not an injury - as a freshman.  He started all 13 games at right tackle last season and was a key part of an offensive line that allowed a conference-low 11 sacks (No. 3 in the nation) and paved the way for more than 2,000 rushing yards. Tepper said he hopes to receive the NCAA's decision by Jan. 16, the deadline to declare for the NFL draft.

Miami suspensions: The Hurricanes suspended punt snapper Chris Ivory for Saturday's game because he violated an unspecified team rule. He is the fifth Hurricane suspended for the final game of the season.

Jake Byrne, who handles snaps on field goals, will take over Ivory's punt-team duties. Byrne also will be the backup quarterback behind Jacory Harris, who will start after Robert Marve was suspended for missing classes.  Linebacker Jordan Futch and tight ends Richard Gordon and Tervaris Johnson also were suspended last week because of team-rule violations.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sacramento Bee: UC Berkeley economists playing key role in new administration

(Nothing to do with football, but I thought this would be interesting to most cal alumni.)

By Dale Kasler


Sure, there's a recession, but the arrows are pointing up for economists at the University of California, Berkeley.  Christina Romer, a professor here since 1988 and an expert on the Depression, was named by President-elect Barack Obama to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers. She follows her colleague Laura Tyson, who held the post in the Clinton White House, and becomes the latest economist from Berkeley to snare a top job in a Democratic administration. Tyson and another Berkeley professor, Bill Clinton's labor secretary Robert Reich, are advising the Obama transition, and speculation is growing about others who might head to Washington.  Berkeley could be "losing our professors to the administration at an astonishing rate," said economist Brad DeLong, who was Clinton's deputy assistant treasury secretary. More than that, Romer's appointment is seen as validation of a Berkeley school of thought that says government shouldn't shrink from fixing the economy. That meshes with Obama's call for huge public works spending to create jobs.

"If Berkeley brings anything to Washington, it's that there are times when the government must intervene in the economy," said graduate student Jonathan Rose, who has studied under Romer. Berkeley's influence extends to other fields. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is Obama's nominee for energy secretary. But much of the buzz is about economics, and there's some satisfaction that Berkeley-esque ideas seem to be gaining at the expense of the "Chicago School" – the free-market ideas of the late Milton Friedman and others at the University of Chicago that dominated Washington for much of the past generation. "There's always been an anti-Chicago school," DeLong said. "I wouldn't say it's clustered around Berkeley specifically, but we're certainly in there pitching."

Some here don't see Berkeley as a "school," with an overarching philosophy. Rather, they see Berkeley as a collection of realists who simply adjust to the times. Nowadays, that means government activism, which is becoming increasingly mainstream as the recession deepens.  "Notwithstanding Berkeley's reputation as being a hotbed of liberal or lefty activism … the faculty here who are involved in economics or economic policy are quite pragmatic," said Reich, a professor at the public policy school. "Government, regardless of one's ideology, has got to play a major role in getting us out of this mess." The lines indeed have blurred between right and left, between Chicago and Berkeley. Obama's longtime economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, is a professor at the University of Chicago's business school and a free-trade centrist. Obama taught at Chicago's law school. "There are lots of people at Chicago that Berkeley would like to hire, and there are lots of people at Berkeley that Chicago would like to hire," said Chang-Tai Hsieh, who researched the Depression with Romer at Berkeley and now is an economist at Chicago. Still, there's an obvious kinship between Berkeley and Democratic administrations, prompting some conservatives to warn of excessive government control over the economy.

"The idea that a handful of people who went to Harvard – or Berkeley, now – know better than 300 million Americans … is fundamentally elitist," said conservative icon Grover Norquist. Obama attended Harvard Law School. Many here say Romer, and whoever follows her to Washington, D.C., will be more aggressive than the Bush administration about the recession. "(Current Treasury Secretary) Henry Paulson's made a bunch of mistakes in the past six months by not being activist enough," DeLong said. "She won't make that mistake."

Romer, who turns 50 on Christmas Day, isn't giving interviews. Around the economics department on campus here, the only hint of her new fame is an unsigned congratulatory note, printed out on a white sheet of paper and pinned to her door. Her research papers show a belief in actively using budget and monetary policy to spur economic growth. She is a scholar of the Depression, a specialty she shares with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and has written papers saying the government erred by not pumping more money into the system in the 1930s. Romer and Bernanke "share that view, that it was a big mistake," Tyson said. "That took it from a stock market crash and a recession into a global Depression." Romer's appointment has created excitement on campus. Recently, at the economics department's weekly reception – a casual affair in a bare-bones room, with an Australian shepherd wandering about largely unnoticed – students munched on cookies while talking about exams, research papers and the gossip about who else might go to Washington. Reich's name surfaced, although he said in an interview that he's probably staying put. The same with Tyson. Another possibility was budget expert Alan Auerbach ("News to me," he said in an interview). The only obvious departure is Romer's husband, David, also an economist here. "We're a little concerned about filling openings," said graduate student Mike Urbancic. "Things are going to be a little thin."

Sun Sentinel: Three Hurricanes suspended for Emerald Bowl

The Hurricanes may the have the services of receiver Travis Benjamin for the Emerald Bowl against California, but won't have three others.  UM coach Randy Shannon announced tight ends Richard Gordon, Tervaris Johnson and linebacker Jordan Futch will be suspended the game for violating team rules. All three were mostly used on special teams. The good news is Benjamin could possibly be available after being bothered with a high ankle sprain that kept him out of the regular-season finale. After initially think he wouldn't play, Shannon said he has recovered faster than expected. Benjamin has practiced all week.

"He's doing better," Shannon said. "Coming off the injury, he's coming around a lot better than we expected. He's playing a lot, practicing a lot ... He has another week of it. Let's see how it goes."  Before the injury, Benjamin was one of the Hurricanes' top offensive threats. He caught 16 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. He also was effective on special teams, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 11.5-yard average on punt returns.


Contra Costa Times: Cal receivers eager to step up by next season

Cal has been waiting all season for its corps of wide receivers to emerge. With the Emerald Bowl against Miami looming Saturday, the wait continues.  The conventional wisdom is that the Bears will be significantly improved next season, and much of that is because of the expectation that the receivers will develop. And although the nucleus of Nyan Boateng, Verran Tucker and Jeremy Ross have shown incremental improvement this season, there is still a lot of work to be done for the Bears' passing game to reach a higher level next year. "I think we've progressed a lot," Ross said. "There's still room for improvement. As time goes on, we're going to get better. I'm really confident in our receivers coming back next year."

Growing pains were expected from the Bears' group of receivers after the loss of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan from last year. Cal entered the season with only 15 career catches among its entire corps of pass-catchers. Boateng leads Cal's receivers with 26 catches. Hawkins was the Bears' leading receiver last season with 72. "It's been frustrating but that's what happens when you graduate all of your starters," Boateng said before last month's Oregon State game. "I didn't think it would take this long into the season, but I think we've learned a lot and we'll build on it." Of the Bears' top four receivers this season, Boateng is the only wide receiver. Tailback Jahvid Best leads the team with 27 receptions, tight end Cameron Morrah has 26 and running back Shane Vereen has 25. With one game to play, Boateng's 26 catches are the second-fewest by Cal's leading wide receiver since 1969. "This one year under our belt is going to help us out a lot," Ross said. "That one year of experience does a lot."

Of course, the inconsistency in the passing game isn't only the fault of the receivers. Cal's offensive line has been hit by key injuries and pass protection has suffered at times. And neither Kevin Riley nor Nate Longshore has taken the starting quarterback job and run with it. The Bears would love to get their downfield passing game in order Saturday to begin the offseason with some momentum. During the final two games of the regular season, Cal's receivers totaled just 4 catches for 44 yards.

"It's very important to finish strong because you take that confidence into the offseason," Boateng said. "If you don't finish on a big note, the offseason and the workouts are kind of down. I'm so excited about the team we're going to have next year. The stuff we're having problems with this year shouldn't happen next year. We should just dominate everybody." Cal's receiving corps next year could get a boost from Marvin Jones, who began the season playing as a true freshman but suffered a knee injury. Cal coach Jeff Tedford praised Jones' practice habits and has high hopes for his contributions next season. For now, there is one more chance to emerge. "I want our receivers to go out with something to hang their hats on," Ross said. "I want us to go out feeling confident about ourselves. We're confident to a certain extent. We want the coaches to feel confident in us, as well as our team, that we can get the job done. We want them to know they can rely on us."

Notes: Backup running back and special teams player Tracy Slocum has been suspended for the Emerald Bowl for violating team rules. Cal has picked up its final nonconference opponent for the 2009 schedule by adding a home game against Eastern Washington.

SF Chronicle: Cal's Riley ready for another go around at QB

Kevin Riley slowly hobbled off the Cal practice field Saturday afternoon, trying to stretch out his back and showing an obvious limp. "I'll be fine," Riley said. "I'm just a quarterback, so I get beat up every day."  Literally and figuratively.  Riley, who has been part of the Bears' merry-go-round at quarterback this season, will have to compete for the starting gig again next season, this time with Brock Mansion, who's currently a redshirt freshman. "It's nothing new," Riley said. "Absolutely, it's tough, but this is a frustrating sport. It's just something you cope with. "You try to get it out of your head, compete, play your best and be there for your teammates."

Riley, a sophomore, is 7-2 as a starter and is still competing with senior Nate Longshore to start in the Emerald Bowl against Miami. Riley has completed 50.7 percent of his passes for 1,360 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions for an efficiency rating of 117.85. He says that his play has been sporadic.  "It seems like a couple of things haven't gone the right way," Riley said. "One time, I'll throw a bad ball when someone is wide open, and the next time, there's a drop. It's just the way it has worked, and I know I've got to overcome that and make more plays." That's where Mansion could enter the picture. The 6-foot-5, 229-pounder is 3-for-6 in mop-up duty and has been inaccurate at times in practice. At least once a week, though, he does something with his legs or his arm that wows observers. "He has a bright future and will compete for that position," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's big, athletic and has a nice arm. He's smart and a good leader. He has a lot of really fine qualities and has made a lot of progress in understanding of the offense."

The Dallas native said he hasn't minded the wait, because he came to Cal with the understanding that he'd be sitting behind Longshore. Of course, Mansion is looking forward to his opportunity.  "Having the chance to compete will bring out the best in both of us and is the best situation for this team," Mansion said. "The more we're competing and fighting, the more skills we're establishing."

Briefly: Reserve running back Tracy Slocum has been suspended for the Emerald Bowl for a violation of team rules, Tedford said. ... Cal got a verbal commitment from Charles Siddoway, one of the nation's top-20 offensive tackles and the No. 1 recruit from the state of Oregon.