Here is the link.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Lawyers challenging UC Berkeley’s plans for a gym next to Memorial Stadium must produce expert evidence to back their claim that the two buildings are really one. That was the ruling Wednesday by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller, upholding a directive she issued in December. Attorneys for the City of Berkeley and neighborhood and environmental groups challenging the university’s plans had contested the order, which had been supported by the university’s lawyers. The litigation before the Hayward judge addresses the question of whether or not UC Regents acted legally when they adopted the environmental impact report for a range of stadium-area projects and approved funding for one of the projects, the Student Athlete High Performance Center (SAHPC). Challenging the regents are Stephan Volker, representing the California Oak Foundation and City Councilmember Dona Spring, Michael Lozeau for the Panoramic Hill Association, and Sacramento attorney Harriet Steiner for the City of Berkeley. “We’re confident that the further evidence we will present in response to Judge Miller’s order will show that the SAHPC “is both an alteration of and an addition to California Memorial Stadium,” Volker said. Lozeau agreed.
The issue is critical, because if Judge Miller finds the high-tech gym and office complex is a part of the stadium, then it would trigger cost limits imposed on additions and alterations to buildings within 50 feet of active earthquake faults. The stadium itself sits directly over the Hayward Fault, deemed the Bay Area’s most threatening fissure by federal geologists, and the Alquist-Priolo Act limits additions and alterations to half the value of the existing building. Just what the stadium’s value might be is another question altogether, with the university arguing for replacement value of a new stadium built to current building codes, while opponents say that current resale value should be the proper figure. Judge Miller’s order sets a deadline of Feb. 22 for submission of the experts’ declarations, with responses due by March 3 and oral arguments set for March 7. A final ruling on the issue should come within 30 days. “We welcome the opportunity to provide the court with this evidence,” said Dan Mogulof, executive director of UC Berkeley’s Office of Public Affairs. “We are confident that engineering experts will confirm that in no way, shape or form is the Student Athlete High Performance Center an addition or alteration to California Memorial Stadium.” Only Mogulof was willing to name an expert who would be presenting a statement. Among UC’s offering will be a declaration from Vice Chancellor Ed Denton. Denton had fought the delay caused by the court action, stating that a year’s delay would cost $8 million to $10 million. Asked about the additional delay caused by Miller’s decision to take more evidence after both sides had rested their cases, Mogulof said that “as frustrated as we are by the additional delay, we feel the benefits of providing the judge with additional evidence will far outweigh the costs.” Meanwhile, in the grove of oaks and other trees which would fall to make way for the gym, a band of tree-sitters continues their vigil high in the branches in protest of the university’s plans. The tree-sit is now well into its fourteenth month, despite its encirclement by a ring of two fences erected by the university. You are in the archives.
Link, with photos.
UC Berkeley police brought in an arborist at dawn Tuesday to snip ropes and dismantle a wooden platform at the Memorial Stadium oak grove, where tree-sitters have been roosting for more than 14 months to protest the university's plans to build an athletic training center where about 100 trees now stand. The arborist climbed into the grove about 6 a.m. and cut most of the ropes connecting the half-dozen platforms the tree-sitters have built in the foliage. The arborist also took down one of the platforms, which was uninhabited. In the process, a bucket of human waste fell about 60 feet to the ground. There were no arrests, and a university spokesman said police moved in because the protest appears to be winding down. But the action enraged the protesters. "They cut a s- bucket and it fell to the ground and exploded," said Erik Eisenberg, 39, a leader of the tree-sitters' ground crew who goes by the name Ayr. "They've made things less safe and less sanitary. All they're trying to do is harass and intimidate us."
About half a dozen protesters remain in the trees, living on wooden platforms outfitted with tarps, blankets and rudimentary kitchens. Almost immediately after the police left Tuesday morning, the protesters began repairing the severed ropes, which they use for swinging from tree to tree. University spokesman Dan Mogulof said the remaining tree-sitters will be able to get food and water using the ropes that are left. "There's just a hardcore few left up there," he said. "The police felt this was a good, safe opportunity to act, to address some of the public safety and public health issues." A judge is expected to rule by June on lawsuits filed by the tree-sitters, the city of Berkeley and neighbors in an attempt to stop the stadium expansion plans. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller has asked for more evidence to show whether the $125 million Student Athlete High Performance Center sits atop the Hayward Fault. The fault runs under Memorial Stadium, but Miller said the architectural drawings don't clearly show if the center is part of Memorial Stadium or a separate building. If Miller rules that the athletic center is part of the stadium, the project would violate 1972 Alquist-Priolo Act banning new buildings on earthquake faults. Miller ruled previously that the university must comply with the act, even though as a state agency it is exempt from many other state and local laws. Miller will hear more arguments on the case on March 7, and has 90 days to rule. "The testimony will be as dry as the Sahara Desert," said Stephan Volker, attorney for the California Oak Foundation, an Oakland nonprofit supporting the tree-sitters. "But we're confident our evidence will demonstrate the Student Athlete High Performance Center is indeed a renovation to California Memorial Stadium."
The university could be forced to scratch the project if Miller rules the center is a renovation to the stadium and the stadium, in turn, is worth less than $250 million. According to Alquist-Priolo, renovations to an existing building on a fault cannot exceed half the building's value. The university has said Memorial Stadium, an 85-year-old Beaux-Arts bowl on the National Register of Historic Places, is worth $595 million - roughly the cost to replace it. The plaintiffs argue that the stadium is so dilapidated that it is worthless, and any renovations would be a violation of Alquist-Priolo. The university hopes Miller will decide that the athletic center is a separate building, allowing construction to proceed immediately. "We knew from the beginning we wanted a separate building," Mogulof said. "We asked the architect for a separate building. And we're very confident the plans show just that - a separate building."
Monday, February 18, 2008
Here is the link.
Cal coach figures sleepless nights didn't help, changes things
By Jonathan Okanes
Jeff Tedford begins to speak, and you immediately can tell Cal's football coach is congested. He coughs every so often, confirming he's contracted a bad case of the flu. "I'm much better today," Tedford says. "You should have heard me yesterday." An empty box of TheraFlu cold medicine sits on a desk behind him. Is it November all over again? No, it's early February, on the eve of National Letter of Intent Day. But it may have well been any point during the second half of last season, when a series of sleepless nights gave Tedford a nasty cough he took weeks to shake. For the record, Tedford says this case of the flu is a result of all that recycled air he inhaled as he hopped from airplane to airplane during the recruiting season. As Tedford prepared to put the finishing touches on his recruiting class for 2008, he set aside some time to reflect on the 2007 season, easily his most challenging in six years as a head coach. A stunning fall from the national elite took its toll on Tedford, and he's using the lessons he's learned to make some substantial changes going forward.
"Personally, it's very difficult with as much time and energy that you put in and as much investment that you have, not to see the players be successful," Tedford said. "That was the hardest thing on me, because we all work very, very hard to get this done. It was hard to see our seniors go through a time that they had never been through before. You know the
expectations. I kind of bled for the players and for the coaches." In his first five years in Berkeley, Tedford engineered a turnaround nearly unparalleled in college football. He arrived in 2002 after the Bears had gone an embarrassing 1-10 the previous year and immediately made Cal a winning team, forging a 7-5 record in his first season. By his third year, the Bears were on the cusp of a Bowl Championship Seriesberth.
Cal entered 2007 with 10-win seasons in two of the previous three years and some believed the Bears' best chance to be part of the BCS picture. Those prognosticators started to look pretty smart after Cal got off to a 5-0 start and moved up to No. 2 in the national rankings. That's when a remarkable decline began, leaving Tedford, players and fans mystified. Cal proceeded to lose six of its final seven regular season games and had to beat Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl to prevent Tedford from suffering his first losing season. "Going into the year, it wasn't so much dealing with expectations, because that's something we had dealt with," Tedford said. "But when adversity hit pretty hard, the combination of high expectations and adversity was very trying. It was obviously something we haven't been through before." Cal's first loss was almost understandable, albeit excruciating. With redshirt freshman Kevin Riley making his first career start, in place of injured Nate Longshore, the Bears fell behind by 10 points in the fourth quarter before nearly coming back to at least force overtime. But Riley's now-infamous decision to scramble for a potential-game winning touchdown with no timeouts remaining backfired and Cal lost to Oregon State.
The Bears followed that defeat with consecutive losses to UCLA and Arizona State, and the course was set for an uninspired remainder of the season. Cal won just once more the rest of the regular season — a narrow home victory against Washington State — and it left the Bears searching for answers as to what went wrong. "We had never lost three straight before," Tedford said. "That was pretty difficult. Then to lose three games straight twice in a year definitely was something we weren't used to doing." Tedford, who is notorius for setting up residence in his office during the season, worked even longer hours than usual in an attempt to solve his team's riddle. And when he wasn't working, he'd lay on his air mattress in his office trying fruitlessly to fall asleep. Some nights, sleep never came. "I didn't sleep very much," Tedford said. "You go to bed at 1:30 and have so many things on your mind and just toss and turn. I think there's a point of maybe just overexhaustion, where you're spinning your wheels. I felt like that a couple of times this year." That led to one of Tedford's revelations after the season — that not every problem is solved by simply putting in more hours; that at some point the long hours can become counterproductive. So one of Tedford's new doctrines is to make sure he and his coaching staff get a little more sleep, with the hopes it will result in renewed energy and focus.
"Sometimes maybe there is such a thing as being overworked. I never really felt that way in the past," Tedford said. "This year, I felt that way as far as having some nights I didn't sleep at all. I think I need to do a better job as a head coach to make sure we manage our hours so that we can have the energy and the enthusiasm all the time to do what we need to do. I think at a certain point it's really easy to let yourself get overworked in this deal." Tedford said he didn't really seek advice during the team's slide ("I had plenty of people trying to give me some," he said), that most of the reflection took place after the season. That soul-searching revealed another discovery — that his role as play caller was preventing him from being the best head coach he could be. So exactly one week after the end of the season, Tedford hired former 49ers quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti as offensive coordinator as part of a shakeup in which three coaches got replaced.
"I think during the season I need to be more available for the defense, to be able to spend some time with the defensive players, interact with the team more on all things — academics, discipline issues, things like that," Tedford said. "When you're the play caller and really, really involved in all facets of the game plan, there is a lot of focus that needs to take place on that. It's just based on me wanting to spend more time with the whole team."
Much of Cal's shortcomings during the second half of the season were due to mistakes — turnovers, penalties, etc. Tedford said he didn't know if there was a correlation between that and his ability to oversee the whole program. "I assume it could, but I'd like to think not," he said. Georgia coach Mark Richt gave up play calling duties before last season and said he's seen positive effects across his program, including improvement in the intangibles department. "There's no doubt about that," Richt said. "There needs to be a clear understanding about who is setting the vision for the team." In general, Tedford seems to be focused on improving the aspects of the program that don't deal with schemes or game plans, no doubt a primary reason why he gave up play calling. That will be a hot topic in Cal's football office as the team prepares for spring practice and offseason workouts this summer. "We'll do a lot this offseason talking a lot about the intangibles — not just the X's and O's and not just the talent, but some of the intangibles that it takes to make sure that we're able to deal with adversity or expectations or whatever comes at us," Tedford said. "Even though (last season) wasn't pleasant to go through, I really do believe that we've learned a lot from it. Sometimes it's those intangibles that makes a difference. It's not the best players or the most talent, it's how you all come together. We need to make sure we understand all that."
Friday, February 15, 2008
There’s an interesting post on the bear insider site by an attendee at the recent Sacramento Grid Club’s Tiny Bates banquet. You can read the entire post here. Per the poster, Tedford said that he feels the team chemistry is the best he has ever witnessed, that the young guys really want to step up, that we may see freshmen playing wide receiver this year and that Best's hip seems to be progressing well. He also said that Schneider probably won't be granted another year of eligibility, that Boateng will play in the Spring and that he really wants to concentrate more on being a head coach who deals with all the units rather than just the offense.
He also indicated that the Bears might utilize a 3-4 defense, that the delay in the Stadium project is bad and that it is beginning to erode credibility during recruiting. The poster felt that Tedford seems to be excited about the current team and coaching it. On the down side the general impression in the room was that he is sticking with Longshore, saying that he was unfairly criticized, and that other than the rollout plays, Longshore could have done everything Riley did in the Air Force game. He felt fans need to stand behind Nate and help build his confidence back up. He did, however, confirm that the QB spot will be open in the Spring.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Friday, February 08, 2008
Bears announce massive restocking at wide receiver
BERKELEY - It was notable last season that Cal's football team had three players make a significant impact as true freshmen. The same thing might happen again in 2008 - and that's just at wide receiver.
Coach Jeff Tedford announced his 2008 recruiting class Wednesday and it features five wide receivers who all should be in the mix to compete for the playing time left available by the departure of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. The Bears have only one returning receiver who has caught a pass in a game, making the competition for snaps wide open.
"Obviously, with the guys we have leaving the program this year, the receiving corps was a huge need for us," Tedford said. "I feel like we've addressed that with some guys with great size, athleticism and speed. They're going to come in and compete right away to make an impact with the team."
The Bears announced the signing of 21 players Wednesday, a class that is ranked 32nd nationally by scout.com and 35th by rivals.com. The group of newcomers isn't considered as strong as it's been in recent years, a sign that perhaps the team's struggles during the second half of last season turned some prospects off. But most recruiting experts feel Cal addressed most of its pressing needs by bringing in a solid group of wide receivers, defensive backs and defensive linemen. The wide receiver corps is led by Marvin Jones, a 6-3, 185-pounder from Etiwanda. Scout.com and rivals.com each had Jones ranked as the 23rd-best wide receiver in the country. Two other top-100 receivers - Merced High School's Jarrett Sparks and Charles Satchell of Milpitas – are part of the class.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
By Matt Kawahara
Gone are the days of watching DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan and Lavelle Hawkins streaking down the sidelines of Memorial Stadium. With Jordan and Hawkins graduating, and Jackson bolting early for the NFL, the Cal football team managed to address its biggest need on National Signing Day, inking five wide receivers to headline a 21-player signing class ranked No. 35 in the nation by Rivals.com. With the Bears attempting to fill the void left at wideout, it could help that all five receiver recruits-led by high school All-American Marvin Jones-fill out bigger frames than their predecessors.
"These guys are all 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3," coach Jeff Tedford said. "They're going to be in the range of 215 pounds, and they're going to be able to block, catch the ball over the middle, go up and get balls over the top of people. We really went for a little more height and size in the receiving corps this year." Thirteen signees, including the wideouts and All-American offensive lineman Tyler Rigsbee, hail from California. But Cal also reached out across the nation and fielded an impressive group from out of state. The Bears signed high school All-Americans from Arizona, Washington and Missouri, as well as defensive back Josh Hill and defensive tackle Kendrick Payne from Klein Forest High in Houston, Texas.
Payne, who actually graduated in January and is now attending Cal in order to participate in offseason training and spring ball, drew comparisons from Tedford to former Bears defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. "I know those are big shoes to fill," Tedford said. "But when you watch (Payne), just looking at him, his body type, you watch him get off the ball and he's very quick, very powerful inside just like Brandon was." Running back Covaughn Deboskie from Chandler, Ariz., also graduated a semester early to join the Bears this winter. With Jahvid Best out for the spring while recovering from a hip injury, and James Montgomery coming off minor knee surgery, Tedford said that Deboskie will see repetitions in the spring.
Another Chandler native, cornerback Marc Anthony from Chandler High, headlines a group of four incoming defensive backs. The Bears also signed two linebackers in California natives J.P. Hurrell and Mychal Kendricks, a pair of tight ends in Anthony Miller and Spencer Ladner, and longsnapper Matt Rios from North Canyon High in Phoenix, Ariz.-the alma mater of current Bears longsnapper Nick Sundberg. Although the receivers will have the best chance at making an immediate impact upon arrival, Tedford made it clear that each recruit will have an equal shot at playing time in summer camp. "Each player brings different attributes to the table," Tedford said. "Whichever ones are ready-mentally, physically, emotionally-to take that next step, that's what we'll figure out in camp and we'll take it from there."
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
It was the apropos end to a bizarre year for University of California football - the Golden Bears didn't get a lot of the kids they were recruiting, and nearly got one they weren't. The bigger picture, we'll leave to Comrades Simmons, Smith and Curtis. We will focus instead on Kevin Hart, the unrecruited offensive tackle from Fernley, Nev., who tried so desperately to be a Golden Bear that he ran an elaborate but profoundly flawed game on his parents, coach and fellow students. In short, he stung himself. The funny thing, though, was that because recruiting is such a predator's game, played by predators' rules, that it seemed perfectly plausible that a helpless and naïve high school student could be played by a remorseless grifter.
Now there's a national signing day tale for you. Hart, an all-Nevada guard from a small town, admitted late Wednesday afternoon that he tried to portray himself first as part of the Cal football class of 2011, then as the victim of a cruel hoax that involved not only the people of Fernley and the Lyon County Sheriff's Department but four universities, most notably Cal and Oregon.
The holes in the story seem obvious now. He said he'd been lured by a recruiting agent named Kevin Riley, which happens to be the name of Cal's second quarterback. He said he'd spoken with coach Jeff Tedford a number of times but apparently had never visited Cal, let alone been invited to visit. He told the Reno Gazette Journal he'd visited at Oklahoma State when that school had no record of him. There were no letters to his coach, Mark Hodges, or contacts from other schools. He said he'd been loaned money by the agent and repaid it in full, plus another $500, more or less.
And he'd been the guest of honor at a press conference at his high school where he announced he had chosen Cal. No kidding. He surely had chosen Cal, in the most unusual way imaginable. Once the original story hit the Internet, it ran free and wild. Nobody wanted to accuse Hart of being a scam artist, though many suggested he was stunningly naïve. Many people thought the ugly game that is recruiting had just eaten another innocent, and the story got legs because recruiting is every bit of that, and more. But after a hard day's spotlighting, Hart caved in and spilled the truth. He wanted what he apparently could not have, and resorted to an elaborate and embarrassing subterfuge to get it. And like so many teenagers' plans, it lacked sufficient consideration of the endgame. What was he going to do when he got to Cal, try to convince Tedford that he had been recruited? Concoct a new story that sent him to a junior college to find himself? It was a wormhole of deceit that hoodwinked enough people to get media legs, but nobody within the football industry. The scheme had a great start and believable middle but no close. And while it is still great fun to swing machetes at the recruiting industry as a soulless and grisly body hunt, the Kevin Hart story is no longer that vehicle. A troubled young man wanted into the game so badly that he made himself seem like a victim of it.
Beating Hart up for this monumental judgmental error seems gratuitous, of course. It was a crime of desperation that embarrassed the perpetrator more than any of its victims - his parents, his coach and the local constabulary - but it spoke loudest to the need to be seen as an athletic hero in the only way a graduating high schooler can, by being a star during National Letter of Intent season.
Cal certainly wasn't impacted, except for the few embarrassed answers Tedford was forced to give during his letter of intent press conference. Oregon and Oklahoma State properly claimed ignorance and went on with their days.
No, this one landed squarely on Kevin Hart's unprepared head because he wasn't ready to face athletic mortality, or because junior college wasn't part of his dream, or because he just wanted to be someone famous. He is paying the appropriate price, and will have to find an alternate route to Division 1-A football - which he can still manage if he has the game. Football coaches take anyone who can help their days pass easier, and some of them will do anything to get those anyones. It's the way of the business.
But Hart was on the outside of a glass house with no way for him to enter on his own. He chose a creative but spectacularly poorly executed method to gain entrance, and payment will be swift and enduring. Recruiting is every bit the unseemly game its critics say it is, and yet it was the absence of recruiting that brought down a young man who needed the game most of all.
It was notable last season that Cal's football team had three players make a significant impact as true freshmen. The same thing might happen again in 2008 -- and that's just at wide receiver.
Coach Jeff Tedford announced his 2008 recruiting class Wednesday and it features five wide receivers, all of whom should be in the mix to compete for the playing time left available by the departure of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. The Bears have only one returning receiver who has caught a pass in a game, making the competition for snaps wide open.
"Obviously, with the guys we have leaving the program this year, the receiving corps was a huge need for us," Tedford said. "I feel like we've addressed that with some guys with great size, athleticism and speed. They're going to come in and compete right away to make an impact with the team."
The Bears announced the signing of 21 players Wednesday, a class that is ranked 32nd nationally by Scout.com and 35th by Rivals.com. The group of newcomers isn't considered as strong as it's been in recent years, a sign that perhaps the team's struggles during the second half of last season turned off some prospects. But most recruiting experts believe Cal addressed most of its pressing needs by bringing in a solid group of wide receivers, defensive backs and defensive linemen.
"It doesn't help when you fade down the stretch, but recruiting classes also go in cycles," said Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc. "I like Cal's class. I think their class is pretty sharp. They've got some good players in it." Jamie Newberg, a recruiting expert for Scout.com, also said the difference between being the 20th-ranked class and the 30th-ranked class is "not all that significant."
The wide receiver corps is led by Marvin Jones, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Etiwanda. Scout.com and Rivals.com each had Jones ranked as the 23rd-best receiver in the country. Two other top-100 receivers -- Merced High School's Jarrett Sparks and Charles Satchell of Milpitas -- are part of the class.
Highly regarded junior college receiver Verran Tucker also signed his letter of intent Wednesday, as did L.J. Washington of Stockton. Tedford wouldn't say which of the incoming receivers had the best chance to play right away. "I couldn't tell you right now," he said. "They all have an equal chance. They'll all be here. They'll be able to compete and we'll see which ones end up making an impact." The situation at wide receiver will be even more competitive because Tedford said Nyan Boateng has rejoined the team and will go through spring practice. Boateng, a transfer from Florida, may be the most talented receiver in the program but was suspended after running into legal trouble last summer. Boateng would have had to sit out last season anyway because of NCAA transfer rules.
LaReylle Cunningham is the only returning receiver who has caught a pass in a game. Michael Calvin, who spent his freshman season as a redshirt, is a potential star who figures to start next season. Four of the five new wide receivers are at least 6-2, which marks a dramatic change from the Bears' small and speedy receivers over the past couple of years. None of Cal's top three receivers last year were over 6-feet tall.
"They're going to be able to block, they're going to be able to catch the ball over the middle, they're going to be able to go up and get balls over the top of people," Tedford said. "We really went for a little more height and size in the receiving corps this year."
Other headliners from the recruiting class who could see immediate playing time are cornerback Marc Anthony, defensive tackle Trevor Guyton and running back Covaughn DeBoskie.
Notes: Tedford said defensive back Brandon Jones has left the program because he "needed to make a change." Jones was one of the Bears' top special teams players last season as a redshirt freshman and was believed to be the fastest player on the team. ... Tedford also said defensive end Phillip Mbakogu, who missed the past two seasons with knee problems, has given up any thoughts of returning to the team. ... Tedford said highly regarded offensive lineman Kevin Bemoll, who was suspended for the 2007 season for violating team rules, will return for spring practice. Linebacker Robert Mullin and offensive lineman Matt Summers-Gavin, who each missed the 2007 season with injuries, are also back and will be freshmen this season.
California coach Jeff Tedford watched the videotape of his newly recruited receivers for perhaps the thousandth time, and one thought repeated in his head: "See how long these guys are?" Tedford asked while watching his five new pass-catchers jump higher and further than the defensive backs on the grainy images.
With the Golden Bears' top three receivers from last season's team headed to the NFL, Cal went after a new breed of player at the position in the 21-man recruiting class announced Wednesday. Gone are DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan and Lavelle Hawkins -- all sublimely talented, but all on the small side by major-conference football standards. Incoming is a wave of bigger, longer targets for quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley, from junior-college star Verran Tucker all the way to 6-foot-6 tight end Spencer Ladner.
Tedford said the five young wide receivers all would have a chance to play themselves into a regular job in the upcoming season. In particular, the 6-foot-2 Tucker and 6-foot-3 high-school star Marvin Jones both should make an impact starting in spring ball next month. Tucker spent the last two seasons at El Camino Community College, while Jones was among the nation's top prep receivers at Etiwanda (Calif.) High School. Cal also landed Northern California products Charles Satchell (Milpitas), Jarrett Sparks (Merced) and Joseph "L.J." Washington (Stockton) -- and all are at least 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds.
"(Jackson and Jordan) are only 168 pounds, and it's a big, physical game out there," Tedford said. "These guys are all 6-2, 6-3. They're going to be in the range of 215 pounds. They're going to be able to block. They're going to be able to catch the ball over the middle. They're going to be able to go up and get balls over the top of people. We really went for a bit more height and size in the receiving corps this year."
After addressing its biggest offseason losses, Cal also made progress at restocking its shallowest position. Tedford signed three promising defensive linemen to help a unit that obviously struggled last season, contributing heavily to the Bears' skid from a No. 2 national ranking to the Armed Forces Bowl.
Kendrick Payne, a defensive tackle from Houston who already has enrolled at Cal, is "a guy that's going to remind you of Brandon Mebane," Tedford said. He'll be joined by defensive end Aaron Tipoti from Honolulu and tackle Trevor Guyton, a product of Redmond, Wash.
Cal's recruiting class had few of the big names that drive this salivating cottage industry of scouts, journalists and talent brokers, but Tedford believes his class addresses every need heading into his seventh season in charge.
The two biggest names were Jones and offensive lineman Tyler Rigsbee, a Chico product thought to be among the best offensive tackles in the nation. Dominic Galas, a lineman from Modesto, could be Alex Mack's eventual replacement at center.
With a stocked roster at both quarterback and running back, Tedford signed just one of each. Quarterback Beau Sweeney, the grandson of Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney, formally joined the Bears, while running back Covaughn Deboskie already has enrolled at Cal in an effort to get playing time in the mix with tailbacks Jahvid Best, James Montgomery, Shane Vereen and Tracy Slocum.
Tedford said Best is off crutches after his late-season hip injury, and the speedy tailback has been doing light running on a special treadmill designed to protect his joints. Best will sit out spring practice to rest, as will Montgomery after minor knee surgery.
"Covaughn already being in school is going to help him," Tedford said of the Phoenix-area high school star. "He's going to get a lot of reps in the spring."
Cal's recruiting also was notable for the presence of two players from Klein Forest High School in Houston, an area of the country that hasn't been recruited much by the Bears. Cal's expanded national identity allowed the program to compete for Payne and Josh Hill, a touted defensive back.
"We've gone more national because of the success," Tedford said. "When we came here and the program was 1-10, we were battling just to get the guys here. We don't spread the resources all through the country, but we have people who contact us ... and some of the success we have had over the years opens us up."
By SONJA SHARP
Despite the contention that hallucinogenic mushrooms are a part of Native American religious beliefs, an Alameda County judge ruled yesterday to uphold misdemeanor drug possession charges against noted tree-sit protest leader and former Berkeley mayoral candidate Zachary RunningWolf. His arrest, which occurred last July just west of the UC Berkeley campus, was not related to the long-running tree-sit near Memorial Stadium, said UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya. RunningWolf was charged with misdemeanor possession of psilocybin mushrooms, one of the most highly controlled narcotics in the country. Since he was charged in October, he has motioned twice to have the charge dismissed, most recently on the basis that hallucinogenic mushrooms are part of Native American religious practices, said Edward Vieira-Ducey, an Alameda County deputy district attorney. "Alcohol is legal in the Catholic church, mushrooms and peyote are legal with us, " RunningWolf said. That motion was denied yesterday, meaning the case will likely go to trial.
"We're going to bring more medicinal people, prayer people, into the court proceedings and we're going to have 12 jurors decide whether Native Americans can use psilocybin mushrooms for religious purposes," RunningWolf said. UC Berkeley police stopped RunningWolf riding his bike near the intersection of Allston Way and Oxford Street on the afternoon of July 23, 2007 in conjunction with outstanding traffic warrants in Berkeley and Oakland, Celaya said. RunningWolf was arrested in connection with the outstanding warrants, but during the course of the arrest, the officer found the psilocybin mushrooms in his possession, Celaya said.
"They found eight grams of psilocybin mushrooms on me-a very small amount," RunningWolf said. "As a Native American leader and elder, I have the religious right to hold them." The case will return to court later this month, when RunningWolf is expected to enter a plea, Vieira-Ducey said.
By Jonathan Okanes
Six months ago, Cal coach Jeff Tedford could have sold potential recruits on the national level program the Bears had become — the top-25 rankings, the 10-win seasons, the near-BCS misses. It may have been harder for Tedford to make that argument during the latter stages of this recruiting season after a chaotic 2007 campaign left Cal out of the national spotlight. An unsightly second half of the season had the Bears simply scrambling to finish with a winning record.
Were potential recruits turned off by Cal's precipitous fall out of the national scene last year? Maybe a little. But the class the Bears will sign today on national letter-of-intent day still addresses some of the program's pressing needs, and recruiting experts downplayed the effect the 2007 season may have had on the Bears' efforts.
"I don't think it had a dramatic effect," said Jamie Newberg, a recruiting expert for scout.com. "It definitely may have hurt with a kid or two. But regardless of the season that Cal had, they've filled their needs. You're still talking about a top-30 class."
Scout.com ranks Cal's class as the 31st-best in the country. Rivals.com has the group of newcomers ranked No.33. Those numbers are the worst since Tedford's first year at Cal in 2002. Rivals.com had ranked three of the Bears' previous four classes in its top 20, while scout.com had each of the previous four in its top 25.
Tedford admitted that some potential recruits may have been turned off by the way Cal's season ended, but said he didn't notice a significant impact while he was out on the recruiting trail.
"People had opinions about certain things," Tedford said. "They were concerned about the way we finished. But it's not like we were getting blown out. We were right there in position to win almost every game. I think some of the recruits see that you're right there." Tedford said one recruit told him, "I just didn't like the way you guys finished," and committed to another school. One of the reasons Cal's class may not be ranked as high as in previous years is that it's lacking that one headliner who can boost the quality of an incoming group. In 2005, DeSean Jackson helped give the Bears' the ninth-best class in the country. Last year, Jahvid Best gave Cal a boost up to No.12, according to scout.com. "It may lack the star power of a DeSean Jackson or Jahvid Best, but it's a very balanced class," said Greg Biggin, director of recruiting for Student Sports. "It's not that glamorous, if you're looking for that one marquee name, but overall I think they did a nice job of meeting their needs.
"You never know, maybe they lost a player or two because they weren't as good as the last couple of seasons, but recruiting is a weird deal. Every year is different." One piece of evidence that perhaps the second half of the season didn't hurt recruiting too much is that of the 21 commitments Cal has received, according to rivals.com, 11 have come since the end of the regular season. That means less than half of the Bears' incoming class committed before the season started to unravel, although most of their higher-rated recruits come from that group.
EXTRA POINT: Tedford said running back James Montgomery underwent minor surgery on his right knee after the season but is expected to be close to 100 percent healthy by the time spring practice begins on March17.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer
Cal coach Jeff Tedford is expected to announce today an incoming class of about 20 recruits that reflects the Bears' 2007 season - their chances of landing some top recruits likely disappeared with their falling fortunes on the field after a 5-0 start and No. 2 ranking. "Before things started to go south, Cal probably had chances to do things in recruiting that would have made this one of its best classes ever," said Brian Stumpf, the director of football for Student Sports. "Since Tedford has been there, his approach has been slower than any other Pac-10 team - really taking his time to evaluate players - and that has paid off when they've won (a lot of) games and finished with a bang. "When they struggled this year, it really knocked them back in recruiting." Most recruiting Web sites rank Cal's class between Nos. 30 and 35 and sixth among the Pac-10 teams. The Bears have been ranked among the nation's top 25, including 2005's No. 9 overall class, and no worse than fourth in the conference in each of the previous five seasons.
"There were a lot of blue-chip guys who they were in on, but they missed out on them," Stumpf said. "Tedford's approach has worked out great since they always find a headliner guy, but that was a big loss this time." The biggest loss might have been the Sierra Junior College's Carl Moore, one of the nation's top receivers who chose Florida despite Cal's heavy push. The Bears also missed on four-star defensive end Tevita Finau, who chose West Virginia, four-star linebacker Marcus Dowtin, who opted for Georgia and three four-star players who visited Berkeley on Jan. 11 but picked UCLA instead.
"This class might not be as strong or rated as highly as the past couple of classes, but, in terms of depth, I really like it," said Greg Biggins, director of recruiting and Pac-10 analyst for Rivals. "There's no franchise or obvious blue-chip talent, like DeSean Jackson or Jahvid Best, but, top to bottom, it might be good as it has been."
Cal has received 20 strong verbal commitments, 18 high school players and two junior-college transfers, and is especially strong at receiver and in the secondary, according to team sources. By position, the class has five receivers, five defensive backs, three defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, two tight ends and one each at quarterback, running back and linebacker.
Under NCAA rules, coaches are prohibited from talking about their recruiting classes until they have the signed letters in hand. Cal will host a signing-day news conference at 2 p.m., which can be followed on calbears.com.
Marvin Jones of Etiwanda High in Ontario (San Bernardino County) and Merced High's Jarrett Sparks are considered four-star receivers by many and will give the Bears the bulk they didn't have with Jackson and seniors Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. Marc Anthony, a corner from Chandler, Ariz., is the headliner of the defensive-back recruits, and Castlemont's Chris Little is a sleeper in the secondary.
Running back Covaughn Deboskie, from Hamilton High in Chandler, Ariz., defensive tackle Trevor Guyton, from Redmond, Wash., tight end Spencer Ladner, from Kansas City, Mo., and offensive tackle Tyler Rigsbee, of Pleasant Valley High-Chico, also have gotten four-star projections by recruiting services.
"There are a lot of guys there who have a chance to make an impact," Stumpf said. "Deboskie is a game breaker, we're really high on center Dominic Galas and the Texas guys (defensive back Josh Hill and Kendrick Payne) were under the radar but could pan out."
Two specialists, long snapper Matt Rios and kicker David Seawright, also are expected to join the group, and Tedford has had a knack for making a late splash. Three years ago, Jackson chose Cal over USC in a dramatic signing-day announcement, and last season, cornerback Chris Conte spurned a verbal commitment to UCLA and signed with the Bears on signing day.
"They always seem to have a surprise up their sleeves, but you never really know what to expect," Biggins said. "It wouldn't surprise me if they pull a rabbit out of the hat."
Safety Martin Bayless, of Hightower High in Missouri City, Texas, and defensive lineman Roderick Davis, of Eisenhower High in Houston are the top recruits who have yet to verbally commit but include Cal on their short lists.
Strange saga: Although he apparently was not contacted nor offered a scholarship by Cal, a player committed to the Bears in a ceremony at Fernley High (Nevada) on Friday, according to wire-service reports. It is unclear whether Kevin Hart, an offensive lineman, fabricated the whole thing, was duped by a Tedford impersonator or fell victim to one of a bevy of other conspiracy theories circling recruiting Web sites and chat rooms.
Hart, his family and coach have refused comment, and Cal can't comment on prep players. A number of investigations, from criminal to fact-seeking, have commenced, but the lone reported and recurring fact is that neither Cal, nor Oregon, which Hart claimed as his second choice, offered a scholarship. He also claimed to be recruited by Oklahoma State, Washington and Nevada.
By MICHAEL BRICK
Before an assembly of his high school classmates last week, with all the fervor and high dudgeon only a pep rally can conjure, a football player from Nevada announced his commitment to play for the University of California. Then the university announced it had made no such offer. Now the player, his coach, the schools and a shadowy recruiting figure are the focus of investigations concerning two main questions: Who duped whom? And how did it get this far? “I’ve heard of kids committing to schools that didn’t have an offer, but never in my life calling a press conference” said Jamie Newberg, national editor of the Web site Scout.com.
Students, high school officials and reporters from local television stations and newspapers were convinced of the authenticity of the scholarship offer. The player, Kevin Hart, is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior lineman for Fernley High School, about 30 miles east of Reno. His name had appeared in online and print recruiting news accounts about being a potential recruit. On Friday, he appeared in the school gym to make his announcement in dramatic fashion. Sitting behind a selection of caps representing his choices, Hart took the one with the Golden Bears logo, according to a report in The Reno Gazette-Journal. He told his assembled classmates, “They really sold me.” Then his football coach, Mark Hodges, proclaimed the announcement “a great day for Fernley High School.” Over the weekend, officials from the University of California announced that they had not offered Hart a scholarship. Officials from the University of Oregon and other universities named as the losers in the competition to sign Hart denied making efforts to recruit him.
Hodges did not return a telephone call and an e-mail message seeking comment. Reached by telephone, Hart declined to discuss the case. On Saturday, Hart gave a lengthy statement to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, said Lt. Mike Lange. “The kid says he met some guy who was supposedly recruiting him for a college,” Lange said. “There was some money exchanged. And then it turns out to all be a con.” Hart told investigators he had met the so-called recruiter at a football camp and agreed to accept a loan of hundreds of dollars. But no witnesses had seen the recruiter, and Hart had destroyed his contact information, Lange said. “We have no way of figuring out who this is, who it is, and does he even exist,” Lange said. The Lyon County School District is pursuing a separate investigation, said an assistant superintendent, Teresa White.
In a statement, she said the district “has been unable to verify that Kevin Hart was ever offered an athletic scholarship or letter of intent to play football by the University of California, University of Oregon, University of Nevada, Washington University or Oklahoma State University.” An N.C.A.A. spokeswoman, Stacy Osburn, said a separate investigation may examine whether the universities or Hart had violated recruiting rules.
The deadline for high school players to sign national letters of intent committing to college programs expires Wednesday.
Nevada Player Commits, Schools Say They Never Made Offers
By Josh Barr
It was quite a scene in the Fernley (Nev.) High gym on Friday. A 6-foot-5, 290-pound football player, seated at a table with his coach beside him, was making his college selection before a cheering crowd. On the table before him were a pair of baseball caps -- one from the University of California and one from the University of Oregon.
The player reached for the blue Cal hat, bent the visor, and placed it on his head, signifying that he was accepting a scholarship to play at the school and would officially sign his letter-of-intent today, the first day senior high school football players can do so. Television crews and a newspaper reporter were present for what was believed to be the first Division I college athlete from the town of Fernley (pop. 19,700). Hours later, the feel-good story began to fall apart. Neither California, Oregon -- nor any of the handful of other college football programs mentioned by Kevin Hart -- had offered him a scholarship. In fact, some of the schools he mentioned had never put his name into their databases to send players recruiting literature.
The cause of the confusion remained unclear yesterday. But the incident called attention to the growing fanfare surrounding the national signing period in which highly sought-after high school athletes are appearing at staged events on television or before large crowds in gymnasiums to announce the school of their choice.
The financial stakes are huge -- a four-year scholarship for an out-of-state athlete to Cal, for instance, is worth approximately $100,000 -- and the demands on teenage athletes are expanding in an arena in which recruiting sites are among the most visited sports sites on the Web and cable networks vie for the right to televise announcements of top prospects. Today, several universities will charge admission to events during which their coaches will talk about their latest haul of players. Yet what happened last week in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno down Interstate 80, appears to be unprecedented. "Strangest thing I've ever heard," said Dave Williford, an Oregon athletic spokesman.
"When you're a high school kid, you so badly want to be recruited and sign so you can go play, and if you're a parent you feel the same way," said Fernley Mayor Todd Cutler, who played tight end at New Mexico State University and previously was a high school football coach and assistant principal. "To have this high school, which has never had a Division I athlete and now it's not real? It's too bad. It's disappointing."
Hart, his family, Fernley Coach Mark Hodges and Fernley school officials have refused to comment this week as media attention surrounding the case has grown. Recruiting Web sites first raised questions about Hart's commitment hours after Friday's signing ceremony.
George Hart, Kevin's grandfather, yesterday said only that the family is "in a sequestered-type position" as it awaits the outcome of the multiple investigations. In addition to Cal and Oregon, athletic representatives from Oklahoma State and Illinois -- teams that Hart told the Reno Gazette-Journal he also considered -- said their coaches had no knowledge of Hart. "We're still gathering information," NCAA spokesman Stacey Osbourn said. "Generally in situations like this -- not that there are a lot of them -- we would talk to some folks to figure out if any violations took place, either on behalf of the prospective student-athlete or our schools." NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking publicly about specific recruits, making rumor and innuendo currency. Some high school coaches, accustomed to having colleges recruit their players, know how to deftly navigate the process. For uninitiated coaches and uninformed parents and guardians, the recruiting process is an awakening.
But rarely, if ever, has a scenario such as Hart's emerged. At Friday's ceremony, the player was willing to talk about how he narrowed his choices to Cal and Oregon, and specifically mentioned Cal Coach Jeff Tedford. "Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me that real personal experience," Hart was quoted in the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The local sheriff's department, school district and the NCAA all are investigating the matter. "Was the kid [duped] by somebody impersonating somebody and that got him to where they were?" said Eddie Bonine, executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association and a former principal at Fernley High. "There are some red flags for me: One, at no time did any coach or representative speak to the head coach at that high school; two, you would ask, has the student-athlete, thinking he's going to be a Division I athlete, did he pursue the NCAA Clearinghouse since his sophomore year? That didn't happen. Or did the student-athlete make this all up and got in too deep and couldn't turn it around? "Either way you shake it, it's not pretty. And very strange." When word began to circulate Saturday that something was amiss with Hart's commitment to California, the player went to the Lyon County Sheriff's Department to file a report. According to Mike Lange of the sheriff's office, Hart said he had attended a football camp where a person claiming to be a recruiter had loaned Hart money. Hart said he paid the man back between $500 to $700 more than the initial loan but did not find out the man was not affiliated with any schools until after committing to California, Lange said.
"It would be fraud, obtaining money under false pretenses, something along those lines," Lange said. "From what I understand, there is not a whole lot of evidence from this kid, so I don't know how successful an investigation will be. But we will see what we can do." If Hart did take money from a man he thought was a representative of a university, that could have affected his amateur status, Bonine said. If that is the case, Fernley could have to forfeit games from a season in which it finished 8-4 and reached the state semifinals.
Meantime, investigations continue. The Lyon County School District issued a statement yesterday saying that its preliminary findings were unable to verify that the colleges in question had ever offered Hart a scholarship. "We have to wait and see what the outcome is before we start making decisions," said Bob Kanaby, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations. "Once that takes place, people can make their opinions on things. It certainly is one of the most unusual things I've heard of."
As expected, the universities once thought to have recruited Fernley’s Kevin Hart were cleared Tuesday of any involvement with the offensive lineman. The exculpating of California, Oregon, Nevada, Oklahoma State and Washington on the eve of National Signing Day was the only significant piece of information in a statement released by the Lyon County School District, with regard to its internal investigation of the circumstances that led Hart to verbally commit to Cal Berkeley during a momentous school assembly last Friday. On Monday, the RGJ reported Hart was not recruited by either Cal or Oregon. “Although only in a preliminary stage, the district’s investigation to date has been unable to verify that Kevin Hart was ever offered an athletic scholarship or letter of intent to play football,” read the statement, which was issued by LCSD superintendent Nat Lommori and assistant superintendent Teri White.
Meanwhile, the NCAA continues to keep an eye on the situation, but may not have any jurisdiction over it. Spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said it has received an abundance of calls on the matter. “Our net covers the prospective athlete and the (universities),” Osburn said. “A third party wouldn’t fall under our rules.” There was an acknowledgment Tuesday from NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine that a third party, a recruiter who Bonine knows only by last name, is somehow involved. Fernley coach Mark Hodges and White declined comment on the third party. The news came less than 24 hours before recruits around the country will sign their letters of intent, today, in what has become one of the biggest days of the year in college football.
“The district understands the importance of the National Letter of Intent signing date (today) to these fine institutions and their football programs and issues this statement in order to clear up any concerns prospective recruits to those universities might have as a result of the events that have unfolded at Fernley High School since last Friday,” the statement said. “The district will continue it’s (sic) investigation into these serious allegations and will provide additional details, to the extent it is permitted to do so by law, in the future.”
Monday, February 04, 2008
We have come across some strange and odd recruiting stories in our time, but never before have we heard of a player committing to a school without actually being offered, or having any true contact with a school. That's the story for Fernley (Nev.) offensive line prospect Kevin Hart, a 6-foot-4, 304-pounder. It is perhaps the most bizarre recruiting story ever.
After a bogus announcement, there will be media attention at Fernley high school in the coming days.
First of all, the most important aspect of this peculiar, and absolutely surreal situation out of Fernley – a town located approximately 25 miles outside of Reno – is that all the cards have yet to be played. In fact, this story is actually in the initial stages. For the fans that missed the Hart story completely, here is a sample of what the folks surrounding the Reno (Nev.) area have been told by the local media, with it being reported that Hart commits to Cal.
That's a follow-up story to a previous article the day of the announcement, less than 48 hours ago. At the ceremony, two local television stations arrived for Hart's declaration, including the ABC and NBC affiliates. On the evening news in Reno, the story aired three times on Friday night alone by NBC. One on-looker described the scene as "1,000 people, including all the students at Fernley high, were celebrating once Hart donned the hat, selecting Cal over Oregon, waving to one side of the room, then the other. It was like a war hero returning from battle."
Read the entire article here.
This is a weird story. Here’s the link.
By CHRIS GABEL
Less than 10 hours after Fernley offensive lineman Kevin Hart announced Friday in front of the entire student body he would be signing a letter of intent to play football at California, questions were raised about the validity of the commitment. At issue is whether Cal or any other program has actually offered the 6-foot-5, 290-pound left guard a scholarship.
Reached Sunday, neither Hart’s father, Richard, nor Fernley coach Mark Hodges would confirm the status of any offers — Nevada, Illinois and Oklahoma State were said to be other finalists. Both men also declined to comment in depth on the entire situation because, as Hodges said, it is under “law enforcement investigation.” Contact has already made with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department and the NCAA, Hodges said. The LCSD could be reached for comment Sunday.
“This is involving law enforcement and may involve other departments, other than the NCAA, that are bigger than local,” Hodges, who has been in coaching for 20 years, said. “I would love to tell you everything I know, but I can’t at this time and I’m not even sure what I know. “Up until the other night I was a happy man.”
Doubt started to set in about 9 p.m. Friday, 81/2 hours after Hart announced during a school assembly he would sign with Cal over Oregon on National Signing Day, which is Wednesday. “The Cal staff has had no contact whatsoever with Coach Hodges or Hart, and that they have not visited him; nor has Hart been on a recruiting trip to any school,” recruiting Web site rivals.com reported.
College coaches are prohibited from commenting on a recruitable athlete, including to verify if an offer is on the table. Phone messages left for Cal co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jim Michalczik on Saturday were not returned, nor was an e-mail to Michalczik, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford and two recruiting assistants.
The Rivals report differs significantly from statements Hart made Friday, including that he made an official visit to Oklahoma State the previous week. “Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me that real personal experience,” Hart said in meeting with the media that attended the announcement ceremony.
Hodges, Fernley athletic director Jay Salter and other district administrators were in meetings most of Saturday “peeling back the layers of the onion,” Hodges said. “We have a young student-athlete and a program to protect,” Assistant Superintendent Teri White told Rivals. “Our investigation has just begun. There’s certainly no evidence that any school knew anything about this.”
If there is an offer out there, Hart would be the first Fernley athlete to receive a full scholarship to a Division I school directly out of high school.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Link. (This article mentions Jeff Tedford a couple of times).
“And after the 1997 season, Jeff Tedford left one year into Hill's tenure to become the Oregon offensive coordinator. He is now the head coach at Cal.”
One thing Hill said he would like to avoid is being the coordinator himself. "I have no opposition to that if it comes to that, but I don't want to do that," Hill said. "You see Jeff Tedford at Cal do it. There's too many other things to do. "My job is to make sure this team is in position to do things and stay on top of chemistry and preparation. There's so many other things."
Friday, February 01, 2008
By Jim McGill
Every season has its share of recruiting surprises and the 2008 season was no exception for California. The Bears had their eye early on Central Catholic center Dominick Galas. The 6-1/275 three star center plowed through the competition all year with the Raider’s excellent season culminating in a hard-fought loss in the state championship vs. St. Bonaventure. As the son of former Cal offensive lineman Tim Galas, Galas grew up following the Bears and hoping for the opportunity to play in Strawberry Canyon.
Read the entire story here.
Signing day storylines: With a redeeming opening-week win over Tennessee and a 5-0 start, head coach Jeff Tedford seemed to have his team poised to knock Pac-10 ruler USC from their throne. Ranked No. 2 in the nation and on the verge of becoming the No. 1 team in the land, things fell apart with a 1-6 finish. The Golden Bears did salvage a bowl appearance and a win to head into 2008 on a positive note. Cal's flirtation with No. 1 had to help raise awareness in recruiting and allow Tedford and his staff to try to build it into a national title contender.
Its recruiting is still not on par with the likes of conference foes USC or UCLA, but Cal displays an ability to land some very good talent. The Bears may likely finish in the bottom half of the Pac-10 in recruiting, but the 2008 class has some good qualities and fills some needs.
Top prospect: The top guy on the Golden Bears' list helps to fill a need. Cal recently found out that explosive junior wide receiver DeSean Jackson was opting for the NFL Draft. His playmaking ability will be missed and coupled with the fact that fellow targets WR Robert Jordan, WR Lavelle Hawkins and TE Craig Stevens are gone, Cal has a big need for receiving help. So beating programs like Oregon for Marvin Jones (Etiwanda, Calif.) is a big get. The in-state receiver is built similar to Hawkins and is a smooth runner with great hands. He can make the play on the deep ball and displays good concentration to catch the ball in a crowd. Though lean, he is a deceptively physical player who can take a hit and break arm tackles. He can get a little fancy at times trying to dance for big yards instead of getting upfield to get gains and also may lack that true second gear to blow by defenders at the college level. He will likely get a chance to prove himself early on.
Class highlights: Cal met some needs, but the question is will it be enough to make another legit run at No. 1? Besides Jones, it also has verbals from another prep wide out and a junior college receiver. Another receiver or two would probably benefit this class and the recruitment of Martin Bayless Jr. (Fresno, Texas/Hightower) down the stretch is something Cal fans may want to keep an eye on.
At running back, Cal lost leading rusher Justin Forsett, and promising freshman Jahvid Best finished 2007 with a hip injury. With those developments, the addition of Covaughn Deboskie (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) becomes even bigger. Deboskie is an aggressive back. He does not have a lot of flash to his game, but he quickly attacks the line of scrimmage and can create some big plays when he gets into the second level.
At tight end, tall Spencer Ladner (Kansas City, Mo./Pembroke Hill) is added while Tyler Rigsbee (Chico, Calif./Pleasant Valley) is a promising offensive lineman.
The defense also adds some possibly needed help in a junior college corner and linebacker J.P. Hurrell (San Mateo, Calif./Serra). Hurrell lacks ideal size but can be a defensive playmaker.
Could see the field in 2008: WR Jones, TE Ladner, RB Deboskie and the junior college additions.
“Seeking advice for the Cal football program, Coach Jeff Tedford apparently has an appointment with the game's master strategist. Tedford will meet during the off-season with Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, according to a former Cal player now with New England. Ryan O'Callaghan, a backup right tackle, said Tedford couldn't find a better brain to pick.
"I haven't played for any other NFL coaches, but Belichick has to be the best," said O'Callaghan, now in his second season in New England. "He's very blunt about the way he wants things done and he does a great job making sure there are no egos." A Cal spokesman said he knew nothing about Tedford's visit, but O'Callaghan said Tedford has arranged to come study the framework that has helped the Patriots go 100-28 in the Belichick era. O'Callaghan has played in 26 of those games, with seven starts. This is his first Super Bowl. How does it compare to playing Stanford? "That's the Big Game," he said. "This is the Biggest Game."