Thursday, August 31, 2006

USA Today: Tough love at Tennessee as team rebounds from bowl-less season

By Tom Weir, USA TODAYKNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Phillip Fulmer starts with an apology. The University of Tennessee football coach has a sore knee, so instead of talking as he walks to his office after practice, he needs to ride in a golf cart.The apology is unnecessary, but perhaps it's a habit he has developed after nine long months of expressing regret for Tennessee's 5-6 record last year. Before he's even asked about his only losing mark in 13 seasons, he volunteers another apology. "I'm embarrassed, the coaches are embarrassed, the players are embarrassed," Fulmer says. He labels 2005 "an aberration" and blames poor team chemistry, a sluggish offense and untimely breakdowns on defense as the problems.
Read the entire article here.

Sporting News: Fulmer's unhappy ending with Vols is starting

Unless Tennessee makes run in SEC, coach may not be around long
By Matt Hayes
It's only one game, right? Forget that. It's the season. "We're starting to figure out what kind of team we're going to be," Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge says. They'll have no question after this weekend. Say what you want about the Vols' meltdown last season. Blame it on coaches or players or karma, but understand this: The season opener against championship-caliber California will define this season -- and coach Phil Fulmer's shaky future at his alma mater.
Read the entire article here.

TCS Daily: The Residual Value of Marshawn Lynch

By all accounts, Marshawn Lynch is the real deal. Overshadowed last season by Heisman winner Reggie Bush, the Cal running back is himself ranked among the leading candidates for this year's trophy, and is the chief reason some believe the Golden Bears will challenge the dynastic Trojans for the Pac-10 title.
Big-time recruits who turn into big-time players, as Lynch has done, are the dream of college coaches throughout the country. Without a draft like the NFL, and subject to rules that can put a school on probation for giving a kid a sweatshirt, it takes a special kind of magic for a coaching staff to attract the talent required to win in major college football. Getting a Marshawn Lynch to play at your campus in return for a scholarship is like winning the lottery.
It is thus no wonder that University of Tennessee spends on the order of $800,000 (see sidebar) per year recruiting football talent. And had they, and not Cal, obtained the services of Lynch, every penny of their recruiting budget would have been money well-spent. One Lynch equals a huge return-on-investment.
Read the entire story here.

AP: California, Tennessee meet in rare matchup of ranked teams in opener

Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Some teams might prefer to ease into the new season with a less-challenging opponent. California and Tennessee can forget that. Instead of scheduling tuneup games, they face off Saturday in one of only two openers between ranked teams this week that could shape the national title chase. No. 11 Florida State plays at No. 12 Miami on Monday.
After a visit to Neyland Stadium, the ninth-ranked Golden Bears host Minnesota and follow with a favorable schedule heading into a game at Southern California on Nov. 18 that could decide the Pac-10 championship.
The No. 23 Volunteers, already written off by some observers who predict them to finish third in the SEC East division, are hoping to prove last year's 5-6 finish was an aberration and that they're ready to get back into the national picture.
"I don't think you want to live every year on playing not just Tennessee, but Minnesota, those two type teams back-to-back," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "I think this year's team is ready for this challenge, but I don't think you want to do that on a consistent basis."
Read the entire article here.

No Rest for the Bears

Note from Blog editor: I drove by the stadium tonight at around 6 p.m. to pick my brother up on the way to the airport (to go to Knoxville) and noticed that the team was still practicing. It was a closed practiced, but you could hear the whistles, etc.

Sporting News: Vols like knowing starting QB in advance

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- One of the most asked questions during Tennessee's preseason camp was how the team is adjusting to knowing for sure who the starting quarterback is. "I think I have probably been asked that question like 87 times, but it's important. Knowing that you're catching the ball from that one guy makes all the difference in the world," receiver Jayson Swain said.  Unlike last year, Erik Ainge was named the starter coming out of spring practice. He will start Saturday in the opener against ninth-ranked California. Ainge and senior Rick Clausen rotated last year, and the No. 23 Volunteers found out it didn't work.

Read the entire article at:


Maryville Daily Times: Cal May Look Like Big Ten Team

John Brice, The Maryville Daily Times

KNOXVILLE — As Tennessee coaches and players began compiling film for Saturday’s season-opener against California, they turned their focus to the Big Ten Conference. That’s where Cal offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar spent the previous four seasons serving Northwestern in the same capacity. Dunbar turned the Wildcats into an offensive juggernaut with his spread-the-field attack, which ranked fourth last season in the NCAA at 500.3 yards per game. “We looked at a bunch of tapes from Cal and a bunch of tapes from Northwestern,” UT defensive coordinator John Chavis said. “You don’t really know what you’re going to see. You don't know how [Dunbar] is going to use the personnel, but you’ve got to get ready to play.” The No. 23 (AP) Vols will get an up-close look Saturday when the ninth-ranked Golden Bears visit Neyland Stadium. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. (ESPN). Whatever Dunbar’s offensive thumbprints, the Golden Bears return eight starters from a unit that averaged 33 points last season.  “What they will do offensively, I’m not sure how much they’ll change,” said UT coach Phillip Fulmer, “but regardless, they will be doing it with outstanding personnel.”

Cal’s decision to lure Dunbar to the West Coast was a bit surprising to Chavis on the heels of that success. Tailback Marshawn Lynch, despite playing less than 10 full games in 2005, ranked third in the Pac-10 and seventh nationally with his 124.6 yard average. His backup, Justin Forsett, amassed 999 yards in limited duty and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

“They were sixth in the nation running it like they did last year,” Chavis said. “I didn’t quite understand why they wanted to change it when you’re the sixth best team in the nation running the football.  “Obviously if you have a great back like that you want to get him in the open field as much as possible.” That places a premium on Tennessee’s young linebacking corps, which must temper their aggressive approach. The Vols’ trio of Ryan Karl, Marvin Mitchell and Jerod Mayo has just a combined three starts. “You’ve got to have a lot of discipline playing against Cal, because they’ll spread you out and try to expose your weaknesses,” said Mayo, expected to start Saturday after recovering from a nagging ankle injury. “They get the linebackers out of the box, and we have to key back inside.” Plus, Mayo says, Cal coach Jeff Tedford’s decision to withhold naming a starting quarterback means the Vols must prepare for both senior Joe Ayoob and sophomore Nate Longshore. Steve Levy, who likely would have started, is suspended for the game.

“I feel like they’ve got one quarterback (Longshore) that’s pretty mobile, and they’ve got great running backs like Marshawn Lynch and Forsett, they add two different dimensions to the game,” Mayo said. “Marshawn Lynch is a power back, and Forsett is a little scat back. I feel like we’re prepared for both.”

SF Chronicle: With no clear-cut favorite, Cal really does have a chance at National Title

Jake Curtis

There is one good reason Cal might win the national championship: Somebody has to.  At this point, no team seems to have the goods to do it, and that includes the Bears, whose one glaring shortcoming is the absence of a proven quarterback. But it's safe to say the BCS national championship game will be played as scheduled Jan. 8, and it's a good bet two teams will arrive in Glendale, Ariz., to play it.  Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops figures the door is open for someone back in the pack to become No. 1, as his team did in 2000 when it started the season at No. 19.

"The past four or five years, there's always been a few teams that seem to be far ahead of everybody else, but that doesn't seem to be the case this year," he said. "So whoever can bring it together and improve as the season goes along has a chance at it."

Read the entire article here.

USA Today Picks Cal over Tennessee

Read the entire article here.

No. 12 California at No. 23 Tennessee, 5:30 p.m.

After going down for the season in his first game last year, Nate Longshore returns behind the controls of an impressive California offense that features running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Phil Fulmer is squarely on the hot seat after the Volunteers finished 5-6 and missed out on a bowl game. Former offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is trying to shore up the offense, but it won't be enough to keep Fulmer cool. California 28, Tennessee 24.

LA Times: Four Games To Watch



•  Kickoff: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. PDT.

•  TV: ESPN.

•  Line: Tennessee by 1 1/2 .

•  California update: The Golden Bears are touting junior running back Marshawn Lynch as a Heisman Trophy candidate. He rushed for 1,246 yards in 10 games last season. Receiver DeSean Jackson adds a deep threat for an offense that averaged 36 points a game. Nate Longshore, who suffered a broken leg in last season's opener, is the starter at quarterback, but Joe Ayoob, who took most of the snaps last season, is also expected to play.

•  Tennessee update: The Volunteers ranked second in the nation in run defense last season and returning tackles Justin Herrell and Turk McBride pose a significant challenge to Lynch. The secondary returns all four starters. On offense, new coordinator David Cutcliffe will try to spark a unit that averaged only 18.6 points a game last season. He'll feature Arian Foster, who ended last season with five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

•  Story line: The season's first matchup of top 25 teams is also a matchup of teams with something to prove. Cal is looking to quell any doubts about its highest preseason ranking since 1952; Tennessee is looking to prove it belongs in the ratings after a 5-6 season in 2005, the Vols' worst record since 1988.

•  The pick: Tennessee. The Vols' defense is too good for an untested quarterback.

Read the entire article here.

Oakland Tribune: Bears hope to tune out 'Rocky Top' in Tennessee

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY — It started in the springtime when Cal coach Jeff Tedford played "Rocky Top," the Tennessee football anthem, as motivation for his Golden Bears.  Motivation turned into torture.  "We'd have conditioning workouts in the morning at 6:30," senior cornerback Randy Bundy said, "and they'd just play 'Rocky Top' over and over in the locker room, all day long until we got tired of it."  "It was pretty irritating," said sophomore quarterback Nate Longshore, who's starting Saturday in Knoxville. "Hope we don't have to hear much more of it."  Maybe not in Berkeley, but in Knoxville, that's all the Bears will hear, much like USC's all-game-long droning gridiron hymn to itself.  However, not even over-dosing on "Rocky Top" can shake Cal's unbridled confidence.

Read the entire article here.


Contra Costa Times: Perseverance may finally pay off for Cal senior


By Jay Heater

On the Memorial Stadium practice field, the considerable talent of redshirt freshman cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson is evident. Bears Coach Jeff Tedford doesn't try to contain his optimism when he speaks of Thompson's potential. Tedford makes it clear that Thompson should quickly become a top Pacific-10 Conference coverage man. But before Thompson can assume command of the position, he figures to split time with senior Randy Bundy. Bundy once was an impressive talent much like Thompson. Out of Grover Cleveland High School in Northridge, he had blazing speed and the ability to play offense or defense. Unfortunately for Bundy, he never was able to force his way into the lineup.

Read the entire article here.

AP: Cal plots title run



BERKELEY, Calif. -- The banners hang from lampposts above the aromas of curry and patchouli on famed Telegraph Avenue. Just blocks from Memorial Stadium, the oversized portraits celebrate the university's beloved heroes. If Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Mebane and Desmond Bishop played football in most any other town, their faces would be on those banners. After all, they're the star players who have turned No. 9 California into a powerhouse with its highest preseason ranking in 54 years. But this is funky, free-spirited Berkeley, the renowned home of culture, education and all things tie-dyed. Those big banners on Telegraph? They're portraits of Cal's long list of Nobel laureates in economics, physics and literature.

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oakland Tribune: Ex-Cal QB recalls tough trip to Tennessee

Column by Carl Steward

TROY TAYLOR remembers the nonstop, mega-decibel noise. He remembers the swaying ocean of orange. He remembers the constant playing of "Rocky Top" and the equally incessant T-E-Double N-E-Double S-Double E-TENNESSEE cheer.  “I still know all the words to 'Rocky Top,'" Taylor recalled Monday, nearly 20 years after the University of California's last daunting football venture into Tennessee. "That's how often they play it."

Taylor has some other vivid memories of Knoxville's intimidating Neyland Stadium, fabled home of the Tennessee Volunteers, from way back in 1987.

"We had some of those little empty whiskey bottles thrown at us, emphasis on the empty," he said. "People were screaming things like 'Surf's up, dude' and getting on us real good. It was a pretty hostile environment."

Now the color commentator on Cal's radio broadcasts, he can't wait for his return trip to Knoxville since that'87 game — Taylor was the starting quarterback for the Golden Bears at the time. He also unfortunately remembers the Bears getting pounded 38-12 against a 10th-ranked Volunteers team that finished that season 10-2-1 and sent a number of familiar names — former Raiders corner Terry McDaniel, former 49ers linebacker Keith DeLong, tailback Reggie Cobb and receivers Anthony Miller and Alvin Harper, among others — to the pros.

Read the entire article here.


SF Chronicle: Buzz Around Bears is Growing Louder

By Rusty Simmons

Senior left tackle Andrew Cameron remembers the buzz steadily building in Berkeley during Cal's 10-2 run in 2004. There's nothing steady about it anymore. National expectations have been heaped on the Bears before the season starts.   "In 2004, the buzz took awhile to build, but it's here right away," said Cameron, who decided against an offseason retirement. "We definitely have enough talent and the right coaching to do something special."  That opinion is being adopted across the country. Cal's No. 9 preseason Associated Press ranking is the school's highest since it was No. 8 in 1952, and five major preseason polls have ranked the Bears among the nation's top 10 teams.  The highest praise came Saturday, when ESPN analyst Lee Corso picked Cal to beat West Virginia in the national championship game.

Read the entire article here.

WVLT: Fulmer Media Day Quotes

Quotes from UT head coach Phillip Fulmer from the Vols presser on Cal

"Obviously this is a very exciting time of year for us, and for everybody in college football. This time of year you hear the band practicing in the background, you see the cheerleaders and the majorettes working at it, and our kids have worked really hard at it since January and now the game time is finally here.

"It seemed like it would never come, and I think all of us are anxious to play and see where we are. The players have worked hard and shown a willingness to be responsive as a football team, but they are still learning on an almost daily basis in some areas what it's like to play at this level and the commitment and effort that it takes.

Read the entire article here. Pre-Game Notes: California Golden Bears

Here is the link.

Pre-Game Notes: California Golden Bears

CALIFORNIA (8-4, 4-4 Pac-10 in 2005)

Head Coach: Jeff Tedford (Fresno State, '83)

Overall/Yrs: 33-17 (.660) / 5th Season

UC/Yrs: 33-17 (.660) / 5th Season

National Rankings: 9th - AP / 12th - USA Today Coaches

Formations: Offense - Multiple * Defense - 4-3

Key Players

DL Brandon Mebane (6-3, 295, Sr., Los Angeles, Calif.)

First-team All-Pac-10 last season ... Named to several pre-season All-America squads this season ... Had 29 total tackles (16 solos) with 9.5 for losses (-49 yards) last season ... Had seven tackles (-44 yards) ... Had season-best seven stops against New Mexico State ... Has 15.5 career tackles for loss and 10.5 career sacks.

CB Daymeion Hughes (6-2, 188, Sr., Los Angeles, Calif.)

First-tem All-Pac-10 last season ... Named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week against Arizona last season with two interceptions ... Recorded 62 total tackles (46 solos) in 2005 with five INTs and 12 pass deflections ... His interception on last play of Las Vegas Bowl against BYU clinched UC win ... Had INT return for TD vs. Washington.

DL Nu'u Tafisi (6-2, 265, Sr., Salt Lake City, Utah)

Second-team All-Pac-10 last season ... Logged 38 total tackles (30 solos) last season, with 10 for losses, including 3.5 sacks ... Had four tackles for loss at Oregon last season ... Had eight solo stops against Oregon State.

TB Marshawn Lynch (5-11, 217, Jr., Oakland, Calif.)

Honorable mention All-Pac-10 last season ... Was third in the Pac-10 in rushing last season with 1,246 yards in 10 games and 10 TDs ... Also was third in all-purpose rushing, averaging 164.2 yards per game ... Rushed for more than 100 yards in seven games last season ... Had career best 194 yards rushing and 3 TDs in Las Vegas Bowl vs. BYU.

Banned Items at Neyland Stadium

Per this article, the following items are not allowed in Neyland Stadium:

-alcoholic beverages, cans, bottles or coolers;

-radios without headphones;

-open umbrellas;

-video cameras;

-stadium seats with arms;

-large bags or parcels, including backpacks and large purses;

-weapons of any kind.


Fans are allowed to bring the following items inside the stadium:

-cushions and seats without arms;

-diaper bags that accompany infants;

-small cameras, pagers, cell phones and binoculars.

WTVF: Fulmer Looking For Ainge To Show What He's Learned Against Cal

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer believes quarterback Erik Ainge has improved from a year ago.  One thing going for Ainge is that Fulmer says the receivers are among the most improved units at Tennessee.

Read the entire article here.

WDEF: Vols Ready For Opener

Last year the Vols went from Rocky Top to "Rock Bottom" with a 5-6 record. The unexpected, losing season shook the team's confidence. Now Tennessee is trying to regain their swagger this season.

Read the entire article here.


Daily Times: Fulmer Proud of Improved Receivers

by Leonard Butts

KNOXVILLE -- As Tennessee prepares to host No. 9 California in Saturday's season-opener, head coach Phillip Fulmer has singled out his receiving corps as the most polished unit on the team. Having struggled for a couple of seasons to find pass catchers who can be playmakers, Fulmer believes the combination of good health and a coaching change has made a huge difference in this offseason.

Read the entire article here.

AP: Tennessee names former walk-on starter at center for opener


Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Sometimes success in college football comes from recruiting five-star prospects. Tennessee center Michael Frogg is proving that a player with no stars and no scholarship offers can be just as valuable. Frogg's only offer was to walk on for the No. 23 Volunteers as a long snapper. He was awarded a scholarship earlier this month and then won the starting job for Saturday's opener against ninth-ranked California.

Read the entire article here.

Marin Independent Journal: Ayoob's best shot coming off the bench

Dave Albee

WEARING A LIGHT gray "Terra Linda Football" T-shirt and a dark blue New York Yankees cap, Joe Ayoob left a weekly press luncheon at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday not knowing if he would suit up as the starting quarterback for Cal in Saturday's season-opener at Tennessee. He won't. So what? Seven months ago, Ayoob didn't even know if he would fly with the Bears to Knoxville much less start for them after coach Jeff Tedford demoted him to the bottom of the team's depth chart.  Publicly, Ayoob said all the right things at the press conference on Tuesday, which reflects well of him being a team player. He's cool that Nate Longshore will start ahead of him, a decision Tedford reached and announced following practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Privately, however, Ayoob anxiously wants a second chance to start for the Bears and show he can finish the job he was brought to Berkeley to do.  "It would mean a lot coming from spring (practice) being a fourth-string and having concerns about making the traveling squad to this fall starting at Tennessee," Ayoob said. "That would almost kind of be unreal."  Unreal? It's the stuff of Disney movies. If Ayoob ever gets a chance to avenge his dreadful performance last season, watch out.   "I think he's comeback player of the year in the Pac-10," said Nick Rolovich, the former Marin Catholic High School, City College of San Francisco and University of Hawaii quarterback who is now coaching at CCSF where Ayoob compiled mind-blowing statistics.  After arriving at Cal from CCSF with Heisman Trophy-like expectations, Ayoob replaced the injured Longshore in the second quarter of his first game and went 0-for-10 against Sacramento State. He continued to miss too many wide-open passes in subsequent weeks and quickly made enemies in the stands. He said he's a changed man now.

"I didn't understand that last year. It kind of hurt me that, wow, people don't like me," Ayoob said. "Now if I throw a bad pass and they boo me, it's like, well, whatever."   Thus, Ayoob is itching for a shot at redemption, fittingly in the Volunteer State. Though he won't start on Saturday, Ayoob might play and it's probably best for him to come off the bench in this case anyway. The Bears will be playing in front of 106,000 orange-and-white clad Tennessee fans who will turn Neyland Stadium into a Big Creamsicle. There would seem to be less pressure and fewer expectations on a back-up quarterback walking into that Rocky Top situation.   Yet Ayoob still would prefer to start.   "Last year, whether I started or not, I would have had huge expectations," Ayoob explained. "This year I'll do whatever but, if I had my choice and it was up to me, I'd rather start the game and take the expectations head on and just go and play the game."

That Ayoob will play another game for Cal might have been considered an upset at the end of last season. Tedford pushed him behind Longshore and Steve Levy, who will miss the Tennessee game serving a one-game suspension. That decision led Ayoob to a conversation with his father, Joe Sr., in their Lucas Valley home about the possibility of transferring to another school.  "He was concerned about getting a good year of football in before I was done (playing in college) and I kind of just thought about 'One year of football (somewhere else) versus a (Cal) education that's going to last me the rest of my life,'" Ayoob said. "That kind of just outweighed everything."  Cynics might say Ayoob already has had his education at Cal and he didn't learn much from it.  He did. He could have run from failure on one football field for a promise somewhere else far from the Old Blues' wary eye. Instead, Ayoob has matured and become more focused and determined. He has learned that he doesn't have to be a champion to have the heart of a champion. That badge sometimes comes with the journey.   "Probably going through as bad a time as you can get," he said. "I feel like things can only go up now."

They should get better, if only because Tedford is inspired by a new quick-passing, wide-open offense - dubbed "Spread-ford" - that new offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar brought with him from Northwestern University. It's similar to the spread offense Ayoob judiciously ran at CCSF. "It has a lot of the same concepts. A lot more complex," Ayoob said.  Nevertheless, it gives Ayoob an advantage over Longshore and he knows it. Longshore played only one game in high school out of the shotgun formation before coming to Cal.  Ayoob was a fixture in City College's shotgun formation for two years.  "He definitely is familiar with it and you can tell he's done it before," said Longshore, who has tried to get up to speed with the offense by playing it through video games on his Xbox. Ayoob, however, has had more hands-on first-hand experience with it. The quarterback from San Rafael gains comfort from that.   "Most of my comfort comes from just knowing what it takes and understanding what I have to do now," he said.  When Ayoob was at his lowest point last season and this spring, friends in Marin and teammates from high school and college cared enough to take the time to call and encourage him. It's made a difference.

"I'm really proud of Joe's perseverance and how he's bounced back. I have great admiration for him," Tedford said on Tuesday. "There's a comfort level that Joe has of being the guy that played in big arenas for eight games last year."  Now all Ayoob needs to do for himself is perform better in those big arenas to prove he can play as well as anyone on the depth chart. It may not come Saturday in Tennessee but, if and when Ayoob gets the call to lead the Bears, the 6-foot-3, 223-pound senior believes he will be as ready as ever.  "That's all I ask. Just give me another shot," Ayoob said. "If I go out there and go 0-for-10 again then, hey, if you don't want to play me anymore, that's OK. At least you gave me my shot."


Arizona Central: Let the 2006 Season Begin

Read the entire article here.


Game of the week

Cal at Tennessee, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN. Even though the Volunteers are coming off a 5-6 season, this would be a statement game for the Cal Bears, who are being touted as a threat to win the Pac-10. Interesting to see head coach Jeff Tedford waited until Tuesday of this week to announce that Nate Longshore has won the starting quarterback gig.

FAST FACT: Cal is ranked ninth, their highest preseason ranking in 54 years.

Chance of Isolated Thunderstorms Saturday in Knoxville

Per the Weather Channel, thunder showers are predicted for Friday, and there is a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms on Saturday.  Highs in the low 80’s, but humidity is 55%.  (Note from Blog editor: I’ll be jogging in Memphis on Friday and I’ll provide my opinion of how bad the humidity really is compared to the weather in Berkeley).


Here is a live webcam on the University of Tennessee campus.  Unfortunately the camera is not interactive, so there is no way to taunt the students walking by.

Charleston Daily Mail: Corso Picks Cal over West Virginia

Read the entire article here.


TWO OF the three analysts on ESPN's College GameDay preseason preview show picked the Mountaineers to play in the national championship game. Lee Corso selected WVU to lose to California in the BCS final, while Mark May picked WVU to lose to defending national champion Texas.  The other GameDay analyst, Kirk Herbstreit, chose Miami (Fla.) to defeat Notre Dame for the national title.  The national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 8 at in Glendale, Ariz., at the NFL Arizona Cardinals' new stadium.

San Jose Mercury:Corso's kooky but he has a point ...

By Jay Hart

Was Lee Corso just trying to stir the pot Saturday on ESPN's College Gameday Preview when he picked California to win college football's national championship? Maybe not. Believe it or not, Corso, who's nuttier than an Almond Joy, made the most astute observation of the show. With co-analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Mark May in agreement that this college football season is one of the most wide open in recent memory - six teams received No. 1 votes in the AP poll - Corso pointed out this is an advantage for the Big Ten, Pac 10 and Big East. Why? Because they don't play a conference tournament, meaning they don't have to beat up on each other twice.  For this reason, Corso picked California (Pac 10) versus West Virginia (Big East) in the national championship game, with Cal winning it all. May went with Texas over West Virginia, while Herbstreit took Miami over Notre Dame.

Read the entire article here.


Daily Cal: ESPN Analyst Picks Bears to Win BCS

BY Brian Bainum and Stephen Chen

Daily Cal Staff Writers


• Not surprisingly, the No. 9 Cal football team seems to be taking Lee Corso's national championship prediction with a grain of salt.  Corso, an ESPN analyst, picked the Bears to beat West Virginia in the BCS championship game during a broadcast Saturday.  "It's nice that he said that," Tedford said. "But it really means nothing. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of tough teams on our schedule starting with this week."  Quarterback Nate Longshore said he saw Corso's pick in his room at the Claremont Hotel, the team's training camp residence, with roommate Tyson Alualu.  "I was kind of shocked, to be honest," Longshore said. "Nobody has stuck their neck out for us before.  "I turned to Tyson and said, 'We better get productive tomorrow.'"  Joe Ayoob took a more lighthearted approach to the news.  "I like Lee Corso," he said. "Always have."


• When Longshore was a senior at Canyon High in Canyon Country, Calif., he played his only game using the spread offense. That same year, however, Longshore attended a camp with current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when Roethlisberger was attending Miami (Ohio), which also featured a spread offense.  Longshore said he was pretty excited when he heard the Bears were implementing the spread.  "Whenever I play video games, I always choose the spread offense," he said. "There are a lot of opportunities you can take advantage of when you're in the spread."  Whereas Longshore is still becoming accustomed to the new set, Ayoob ran it each of his two years at City College of San Francisco.

"(Ayoob's) definitely familiar with it," Longshore said. "You can tell he's done it before. I've had a few questions and gone to him, and he's been more than willing to help."


• The Bears have been practicing with several large speakers on the field to help players prepare for the noise coming from the over-105,000 fans expected at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.  Although Tedford said the speakers are so loud that you can't hear anything on the field, the Bears know that the actual environment cannot be replicated.  "Honestly, after going through that USC game with 90,000 fans down there (in 2004), you can't simulate that type of noise," Longshore said. "When you're there you can't even believe how loud it is. You can throw as many speakers you want, but when they have their fans going, I'm sure it'll be a new kind of noise for us."  Not all the fans will be rooting against the blue and gold, however. The Cal ticketing office has sold around 5,000 tickets for the game, which is just short of the maximum allotment given to the Bears. Cal has since returned the extra tickets.


• Tedford announced the majority of his starters for the opener, although question marks remain at several positions.  Scott Smith and Bryan Deemer should make up the right side of the offensive line. Alex Mack will get the start at center, with Erik Robertson and Andrew Cameron protecting the quarterback's blindside from the left.  Tedford said Norris Malele may start instead of Deemer at right guard.  At the skill positions, there were no surprises as DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan and Lavelle Hawkins were all given the nod at wide receiver. Byron Storer and Marshawn Lynch will occupy the backfield and Craig Stevens will begin the game at tight end.  On defense, Syd'Quan Thompson or Randy Bundy will replace the injured Tim Mixon at cornerback across from Daymeion Hughes. Thomas DeCoud and Brandon Hampton comprise the rest of the defensive backfield.  Tedford hasn't decided on whether Mickey Pimentel or Justin Moye will start at one of the linebacker spots. The other two linebackers will be Desmond Bishop and Worrell Williams.  The defensive line, arguably the deepest unit of the defense, will be composed of Matthew Malele and Brandon Mebane on the inside and Abu Ma'afala and Nu'u Tafisi on the ends.


• Though the Bears may be traveling across the country to get to Neyland Stadium, the team will not try to adjust to Eastern Standard Time.  "We are just going to stay on West Coast time," Tedford said. "We'll do everything the same and treat it like it is a 2:30 start out here."  That means Cal will not wake up until 10 a.m. in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday morning. Friday evening the Bears will have a walk-through at the 104,047 capacity stadium at 5:30 EST, exactly 24 hours before the game.  "We'll be able to find out all the situations at game time, as far as the sun and all the other normal things we look at," Tedford said.


• Defensive end Phillip Mbakogu will miss Saturday's game due to his continuing recovery from surgery on his left knee over the offseason.  "He could be one-to-three weeks," Tedford said. "He had some injections and lubricants in there. They need to see how that plays out."

ESPN: Overview of Week 1

Read the entire article here.


Phil Fulmer can make a fresh start with a win against Cal.Saturday night's Cal-Tennessee matchup (ESPN, 5:30 p.m. ET) might be the most interesting game this weekend. After a rocky 2005, which included coach Phil Fulmer's first losing season at Rocky Top, Tennessee enters the season with a very talented squad. The Volunteers could get a much-needed confidence boost with a win against the Golden Bears.

A loss, however, would test Tennessee's collective psyche. Like most SEC schools, Tennessee's rabid fan base gives it a huge home-field advantage. After an offseason of criticism and calls for Fulmer's job, a loss might overwhelm Volunteer Nation. If the crowd turns against them, it could be tough for Tennessee to bounce back.  UT opens the season against an outstanding team. But Cal, which boasts Heisman Trophy candidate Marshawn Lynch, is also under pressure. The Bears spent most of last season on the West Coast and don't have experience playing in the raucous SEC.  This game will answer important questions for both teams. Will Tennessee deal with adversity? Can Cal handle the atmosphere? The team that does will start the season with a huge advantage.

Fox Sports: 30 Biggest Issues of 2006

Read the entire article here.


12. How much of an impact will David Cutcliffe have in his return to Tennessee?
It better be profound or else there'll be hell to pay at Tennessee. One 5-6 season is a nightmare. Back-to-back flops will not be tolerated. Cutcliffe returns to the Volunteers to manage the second half of quarterback Erik Ainge's career and help restore the order in Knoxville. After a terrific true freshman year, Ainge regressed swiftly in 2005, and should benefit from the presence of one of the game's better teachers. If he doesn't, get ready for the debut of redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton, who just two years ago was one of America's most coveted high school quarterbacks. Wholesale changes are expected on both sides of the ball, so 2006 is a time to lay the groundwork for loftier pursuits in 2007.


15. If USC leaves the door open, which team is most likely to storm the Pac-10 gates?
If they can get consistent play from the quarterback, Cal heads a deep pack that's lining up behind the Trojans. In back Marshawn Lynch and receiver DeSean Jackson, they've got two of the best playmakers in the conference and the Brandon Mebane-led defense is athletic and underrated. Top to bottom, the Pac-10 is as balanced as it's been in years, leaving the Trojans a little less margin for error. Oregon and UCLA return plenty of talent from last year's 10-win squads. Arizona State is a traveling air show that can score with anyone. Both Washington State and Oregon State will be improved after falling below .500 in 2005. And Arizona has enough emerging players to be one of this season's big surprises. The Oct. 7 visit from Washington looks like the only snoozer for four-time defending league champ USC.


Mobile Register: Vols may be in over their heads

Marshawn Lynch is the strong, silent type.  Unlike many college athletes who soak up the spotlight, Lynch would probably skip all interaction with the media if the sports information department at California approved.  The 5-foot-11, 223-pound Lynch, whose idea of fun is visiting his mom in nearby Oakland or playing on his X-Box, just prefers to use his quick feet and powerful body and not his tongue to make his point. And, oh, the things Lynch might be saying by the end of the day Saturday when he and his Golden Bears teammates leave Knoxville, Tenn.

Here is the link.

Daily Times:Vols study Cal OC Dunbar, prep for skilled Bears

by John Brice

KNOXVILLE -- As Tennessee coaches and players began compiling film for their season-opener against California, they turned to the Big Ten Conference. That's where Cal offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar spent the previous four seasons serving Northwestern in the same capacity. Dunbar turned the Wildcats into an offensive juggernaut with his spread-the-field attack, which ranked fourth last season in the NCAA at 500.3 yards per game. ``We looked at a bunch of tapes from Cal and a bunch of tapes from Northwestern,'' UT defensive coordinator John Chavis said. ``You don't really know what you're going to see. You don't know how he (Dunbar) is going to use the personnel, but you've got to get ready to play.''

Read the entire article here.

Sports Network Picks Tennessee Over Cal

(9) California (0-0) At (23) Tennessee (0-0)

GAME NOTES: In what is expected to be one of the best games of the opening weekend, the 23rd-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will play host to the ninth- ranked California Golden Bears. California owns its highest preseason ranking since 1952, a tribute to the program that Jeff Tedford has been able to build. The Golden Bears finished 8-4 a year ago, and 18 starters are back in the fold. They were selected to finish second in the Pac-10 behind USC, and they haven't faced a club from the SEC in almost 20 years. Tedford is 5-6 against ranked foes since taking over the California program, and his club can make a major statement with a win over Tennessee. Speaking of the Vols, their 2005 season was one to forget. The club actually got off to a solid 3-1 start before everything seemed to fall apart. Phil Fulmer is said to be on the hot seat in Knoxville, so a good start is essential. The head coach is 13-1 all- time in season openers, and his lone opening loss came way back in 1994. The SEC may be the best conference in the nation, and Tennessee needs to prove that it deserves to be mentioned among the league's elite teams. The all-time series between Tennessee and California is tied at 1-1, and the last meeting took place back in 1987.


California possesses a true Heisman Trophy candidate in the person of tailback Marshawn Lynch. Last season as a sophomore, Lynch exploded for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns, and that total could have been greater if not for some nagging health issues early in the campaign. Over the final four regular season tilts and the team's bowl game, Lynch averaged 150.6 yards per contest. While Lynch is getting most of the preseason attention, fellow tailback Justin Forsett is back in place after rushing for 999 yards a year ago. Nate Longshore will be under center for the Golden Bears, and while he has ideal size at 6-5 and 233 pounds, he has battled injuries and has yet to reach his potential. Longshore has a number of talented receivers to utilize, including DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan. Jackson is the more dangerous of the two, as he averaged 15.8 yards per catch as a true freshman and scored seven times. The offensive line is somewhat inexperienced, so that is an area of concern heading into this opener. In four years under Tedford, California has averaged 34.4 ppg, easily the most in any four-year stretch in program history.


Read the entire article here.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 23, California 20

SF Chronicle: Tedford selects Longshore as Cal's starting QB

Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer

Cal coach Jeff Tedford finally named sophomore Nate Longshore the starting quarterback Tuesday night, but the decision might have been made quite awhile ago.  It was the dog days of training camp, and the team was staring at two practices on a hot morning. Stepping in before a potential letdown, Tedford challenged the players to maintain their intensity.  As the first practice neared its conclusion, Longshore lowered his head near the goal line and hammered through a defensive lineman on his way to a touchdown. The sound of the crash was magnified by the silence afterward.  The players quietly stared at Longshore. It was as if their leader had emerged.  It has been almost two weeks since that day, and Tedford has been hesitant to name a starter for the Bears' season opener Saturday at Tennessee. In his defense, there have been a lot of factors flip-flopping since then.

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Oakland Tribune: Longshore the man for Cal

Tedford picks starting quarterback for Tennessee

By Dave Newhouse

BERKELEY — With Cal's quarterbacking situation a potential story theme for "Mystery Theater," coach Jeff Tedford ended months of suspense Tuesday evening by naming Nate Longshore as his starter. Longshore's beating out Joe Ayoob means the last piece is in place for this season of the highest expectations for the Golden Bears. "They've both had great camps," Tedford said, "but Nate will take the first snap. It's very possible both will play, but we'll see about the flow of the game."   Longshore started the 2005 season, but broke his ankle in the opener. Ayoob and Steve Levy both started in his absence, but Longshore regained the No. 1 spot in the spring, and held onto it in fall camp.

Tedford delayed the decision on who would start in Tennessee until he knew for sure that Longshore, who had an inflamed nerve in his back, was healthy enough. He threw accurately in practice Tuesday.  "Nate's been real consistent with how he's run the team," Tedford said. "He's worked real hard to get that (leg injury) back 100 percent, and he's worked hard on his footwork. He's ready to go. This is his opportunity." Longshore, the tall sophomore, believes he's back to full health, and feels he and Ayoob will play in Knoxville.

"I need to be focused, understand the game plan, and enjoy the experience," Longshore said of Saturday's intersectional. "I'm excited. We're jelling (on offense). It's coming together at the perfect time."[ep] Ayoob, a senior who was 5-4 as a starter last year, was crestfallen at not being named No. 1. And he isn't convinced he will play Saturday. "If Nate comes out and goes 10-for-10, I don't expect (Tedford) to put me in," he said. "It's my understanding that I'm supposed to get some playing time, so we'll see what happens."[ep] Though Cal has BCS aspirations, the Bears don't feel one player will make a difference, even at the important quarterback position.

"No matter who's back there, we'll do well," said senior cornerback Randy Bundy. "It's not about the quarterback. We have a great offensive line, a great tailback, and great receivers. Our defense is great. We can pick up the slack for one man." It remains to be seen if the Bears are as great as they think they are, but this is a team with talent, plenty of depth, and a deep thirst for success.   "We're competing for a national championship," said Bundy, "and a Pac-10 title, which we haven't done yet. We've always been close, second or third or one game off." The first two weeks of the season will have a telling effect on the Bears, for after Tennessee they come home to face Minnesota.

"We're where we need to be," said Tedford. "We've had a good camp, and the players' legs are back."  The coach announced the rest of his offensive starters Tuesday: tailback Marshawn Lynch, fullback Byron Storer, tight end Craig Stevens, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan, tackles Andrew Cameron and Scott Smith, guards Erik Robertson and Bryan Deemer or Noris Malele, and center Alex Mack.

Defensively, the front four will be Abu Ma'afala and Nu'u Tafisi at end, Brandon Mebane and Matt Malele at tackle. The linebackers will be Desmond Bishop in the middle, and Worrell Williams and either Justin Moye or Mickey Pimentel on the outside. Daymeion Hughes and either Syd'Quan Thompson or Bundy will be the corners, and Thomas DeCoud and Brandon Hampton the safeties.

Tom Schneider is the placekicker, Andrew Larson the punter, Nick Sundberg the long-snapper, and Ayoob the holder. Lynch and Marcus O'Keith will return kickoffs, while Jackson will run back punts. Lynch and Jackson are Cal's two game-breakers, either on offense or on special teams.


AP: Longshore Chosen As Cal's Starting QB


Nate Longshore will start at quarterback for ninth-ranked California in Saturday's season opener at No. 23 Tennessee after beating out Joe Ayoob for the job. Coach Jeff Tedford announced his decision after practice at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night. The quarterback guru is convinced Longshore has fully recovered from last season's broken leg and a minor back injury last week. "They've both had great camps, (but) somebody has got to take the first snap," Tedford said. "It's very possible they'll both play. Nate has run the offense very well. There wasn't a lot of difference between them, but Nate has been real consistent." The Golden Bears have their highest preseason ranking in 54 years despite a summer of uncertainty at quarterback, where Tedford has tutored a series of valued NFL prospects in his career.

Longshore also beat out Ayoob last season, but broke his leg near the ankle in the first half of Cal's first game. Ayoob took over and started nine games as a junior, but lost the job to third-stringer Steve Levy after throwing 11 interceptions in his final four games.   Levy, who won't travel to Knoxville as punishment for his involvement in an offseason bar fight, led Cal to victories over Stanford and Brigham Young in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Longshore, who redshirted in 2004, worked tirelessly to get back into shape after the serious injury in his college debut. He then injured his back in practice last week, forcing him to miss four days of workouts — but Tedford still had faith in the 6-foot-5 sophomore. "Either way, I'm sure we'll both play, and we just want to go out there and execute the offense," said Longshore, who stayed late after Tuesday's practice and threw 55-yard passes to receiver DeSean Jackson. "I'm excited. We're jelling and we're getting each other's timing down. We're figuring everything out, and it's coming together at the right time."

Cal changed its offense in the offseason, adding elements of a spread attack from new offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar. Ayoob starred in a spread offense in community college, but Longshore also has been adept with the shotgun snaps and athletic plays required in the spread. Ayoob, who passed for 1,707 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, took the news fairly well — though his disappointment was obvious.   "If Nate comes out and goes 10-for-10, I don't think I'll go in," Ayoob said of Saturday's game at Neyland Stadium. "But my understanding is I'll get some playing time, so we'll see what happens. It's not about who's starting or not. It's about winning games."



ESPN: QB Longshore to start Cal opener vs. Tennessee

By Joe Schad

Sophomore Nate Longshore will start at quarterback for Cal in the season opener at Tennessee, coach Jeff Tedford announced Tuesday.  Longshore outlasted last year's starter Joe Ayoob, who struggled in 2005 with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Tedford will still consider using Ayoob depending on the flow of the game.  Longshore missed all of last season after tearing ligaments in an ankle and breaking a leg in the second quarter of the opener against Sacramento State and has battled back problems recently.  "I've been working hard just to be able to play again," Longshore told ESPN's Joe Schad after practice. "My back is fine now. It was stiff yesterday but fine today. I'm ready to roll."  Longshore is not worried about his lack of experience on the field.  "I feel old, to be honest," Longshore said. "As a freshman, I watched Aaron Rodgers play. Then last year I had to watch from the sidelines. I'm fired up to play at Tennessee. It's pretty loud on the video game, so I'm sure it will be 100 times louder in person."



QB Announcement Expected at Press Conference This Morning

Note from blog editor: Cal has a news conference scheduled at 11:30 a.m. this morning where it is expected that Tedford will announce who the starting QB will be for the Tennessee game.  Stay tuned…

Tennessee Blog

Read what Tennessee fans are saying here.


ESPN: Sixth Annual Herbie Awards

(Thanks to Ian for submitting this)

Here is the link.

By Kirk Herbstreit

It's the sixth anniversary of the Herbies, and we're celebrating with one of the top classes of award winners. This list has everything to do with the playmakers, the hogmollies, the difference makers and, in short, just great college football players. It has nothing -- nothing -- to do with their pro potential.  Herbies are given to the best college football players, coaches, teams and fans from across the nation.  Also, this is just my list. These are my choices and not everyone will agree. That's the beauty of it. Let the second-guessing begin.  So, without further ado, the sixth annual Herbie Awards.


Marshawn Lynch is listed as the 3rd best running back; DeSean Jackson is the 7th best receiver; Brandon Mebane is the 4th best defensive tackle; Desmond Bishop is the 2nd best inside linebacker; Daymeion Hughes is the #1 cornerback; Nate Longshore is listed as the #2 “player who will be household names by October”; and Jeff Tedford is the #2 “favorite player caller”;


Contra Costa Times: Tedford to name his QB today ... 'probably'

Cal football notebook

BERKELEY -- Cal coach Jeff Tedford said after Monday's practice at Memorial Stadium that the long-awaited announcement regarding the Bears' starting quarterback "probably" will be made at today's media luncheon.  Tedford will pick between senior Joe Ayoob and sophomore Nate Longshore, who missed practice time last week with a inflamed nerve in his back.  Longshore was back at practice Monday and he looked very sharp throwing the ball. "It was very important for us to see him today," Tedford said of Longshore. "Now we want to see if practice has any effect (on his back)."

Tedford said Longshore had a very impressive camp throwing the football until his back started to bother him.  During Monday's workout, Longshore and Ayoob took turns working with the first team. Tedford said Ayoob played very well last Tuesday during a scrimmage that was closed to the media.

Read the entire article here.

SF Chronicle: Longshore practices, responds 'pretty well'

Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sophomore quarterback Nate Longshore participated Monday in a full practice for the first time since missing Tuesday's scrimmage with a sore back.

"Nate looked fine. It was important for us to see him today and to see how he responded," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He responded pretty well, and we'll see how he feels tonight and tomorrow. We've got to see if there are any effects from practice, but he says he feels great."  Tedford said Longshore had a disk problem that inflamed a nerve, and after missing three days of practice, he was limited Saturday.  His return means a starting quarterback still hasn't been named for Saturday's opener at Tennessee. Tedford said "maybe" the decision will be announced today; Cal has a news conference scheduled at 11:30 a.m.

Read the entire article here.

Maryville Daily Times: Cal spreads its wings on offense

By Leonard Butts

KNOXVILLECalifornia doesn’t have a reputation for being laid back without reason. While signing autographs and chatting with fans on Saturday, a few Cal football players passed around a cell phone to field questions from media across the country. It’s not likely the Golden Bears will be so casual in their approach to Saturday’s game with Tennessee, but for one day, at least, multitasking seemed as natural as blocking and tackling.

Adjustment to a newly introduced spread offense has gone just as easily, according to Cal guard Erik Robertson, a senior from Apple Valley, Calif.

“It wasn’t hard because we assimilated it with the plays we had last year,” he said. “It’s exciting because it makes for some new plays, and I like the four-receiver stuff, but we still have two great backs and can get it going downhill, which I like because it’s so physical.”

Read the article here.

Oregon Salem News: 2006 Pac-10 Football Pics

Here is the link.

2. California – Despite getting horrible production from the quarterback position last season, Cal still averaged 30.4 points a game verses Pac-10 foes. Thanks to a potent running attack led by Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, and an experienced line, Cal racked up 220.6 yards rushing a game in conference play. Nate Longshore is healthy so the QB position should improve. Both Lynch and Forsett return but the loss of three 3-year starters on the O-line cannot be overlooked.  The defense was very good last year and should be even better this year as they return the majority of their starters.  California opens it’s (sic) season on the road at Tennessee. Then comes home for games against Minnesota and Portland State.  In the Pac-10. California has home dates with Arizona State, Oregon, Washington, UCLA, and Stanford.

Nashville Daily Times: Vols don't like home underdog role

By Joe Kennedy, Daily Times Correspondent

KNOXVILLE — Don’t expect Tennessee receiver Jayson Swain to be watching intently as Lee Corso offers his prediction on Saturday’s season opener.

The senior, who was named as one of five game captains for the match-up against No. 9 California, is already tired of hearing about the Vols’ role as spoiler. Kickoff Saturday at Neyland Stadium is 5:30 p.m. (ESPN). “Personally, I’m mad,” Swain said. “I’m mad that Tennessee can be counted out of any type of football game. That’s the attitude and the mentality that I’m going to have out here as well as the rest of the guys out here practicing.”

Swain and his fellow captains are aware of the responsibility placed on them by coaches and plan on getting the message across to the younger players as the season draws near. “Being older, we know that the preseason rankings really don’t matter, but as far as respect, we don’t feel like we’ve gotten it,” Swain said, “so we have to go out there and take it.”

Despite the pervading notion that they are indeed underdogs, the No. 23 Vols actually opened as slight favorites to defeat the Golden Bears. But after years of being a heavy favorite in nearly every game held inside Neyland Stadium, Tennessee finds itself in a strange position after a 5-6 season. “Obviously, we’re getting the hype that we deserve,” defensive lineman and game captain Turk McBride said. “Last year wasn’t a great season, but we’re not looking at last year anymore. We’re a new football team — new players, new mentality on the team — so we’re ready to go out there and prove ourselves.”

Read the entire article here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Latest Line for Cal vs. Tennessee

As of Monday, August 28th, 2006, Cal remains a 2 point underdog on, but several gambling sites have it down to 1 ½ points.



CBS Sportsline: Oakland native Lynch a pillar of Cal's Berkeley campus

By Dennis Dodd

There is a point where Oakland and Berkeley cozy up next to each other, though hardly holding hands. The California campus -- bastion of free thought, home of Nobel laureates -- shoulder-to-shoulder with gritty, urban Oaktown.  "It's probably a lot different than a lot of places in the world," said Robert Jordan, a junior receiver at Cal from East Oakland. "It's everything that you see in the movies -- high crime, drugs. ... You just have to keep your head on straight."  That tells you a lot about what you need to know about the two cities and Jordan's celebrated cousin, Marshawn Lynch. Cal's junior tailback also grew up in Oakland, on Telegraph Avenue, five minutes from the Berkeley campus. But he finds himself -- at least figuratively -- elbowing his way onto those campus banners that celebrate the school's Nobel winners in economics, physics, chemistry and literature.

Read the entire article here.

Reminder: Events in Knoxville for the Cal-Tennessee Game

FRIDAY NIGHT - Cal at Calhoun's (California Alumni Association Event)

9:00 P.M.

Location: Calhoun's on the Tennessee River - 400 Neyland Drive Downtown Knoxville, TN

Join all your Cal friends at Calhoun's, a downtown Knoxville restaurant and bar, to get pumped up before the Cal/Tennessee game the next day. Calhoun's has reserved the second floor for Cal fans only! There is an outdoor balcony that wraps around the entire second floor, providing a beautiful view of the Tennessee River. Smoking, indoors and out, is highly encouraged.

Saturday, Sept. 2 - Pre-Game Tailgate (California Alumni Association Event)

Location: Knoxville Convention Center 701 Henley Street Knoxville, TN 37902

1:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 2 - Victory Party

Location: Marriott Hotel 500 East Hill Ave