Monday, March 26, 2007

Contra Costa Times: Tedford king of offensive chess

BERKELEY - To Cal coach Jeff Tedford, calling plays in football is a lot like playing chess. You think multiple moves ahead. You choose plays not only for immediate gratification, but also as part of a grand plan for a bigger payoff later in the game. Step by step, you set the stage to hopefully spring the perfect offensive play against the perfectly vulnerable defense. "And then bang, it happens," Tedford said Thursday, sitting in his office, just hours before another spring practice. "It's exciting. It's invigorating. "There's a great feeling of excitement when you can kind of set things up through the field and call something right when (it) matches up. Because you've studied it and you saw it and then, bam! Your team is able to do it." The play-calling thrill will be back for Tedford this coming season, which begins for Cal with a Sept. 1 rematch against Tennessee, this time at Memorial Stadium. He delegated most of that job last season to then first-year Cal offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar.

Dunbar, a devout believer in the spread offense, went one-and-done at Cal. He left after the 2006 season to become offensive coordinator at Minnesota, where he'll be free to rely solely on the spread attack. Longtime offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will double as Cal's offensive coordinator, but his extra duties will be "more organizational," Tedford said last month after promoting Michalczik. Tedford, predictably, downplayed the importance of his return as Cal's primary play caller. He said play calling is a group effort, as is creating each week's game plan. He said Dunbar did a "nice job" of calling plays last season. Maybe so. But if I'm a Cal fan, I want Tedford calling my team's plays, and I'm celebrating his return to that role.  Yes, Cal's offense now includes the shotgun formation and elements of the spread, thanks to Dunbar. But this is still basically the same attack -- plus a few wrinkles -- that Tedford installed when he came to Cal in 2002 from Oregon, where he was the Ducks' offensive coordinator for four years.

Tedford isn't one of these coaches who has torn rotator cuffs from patting himself on the back. So you'd expect him to downplay the importance of this change. But the truth is no one knows Cal's offense better than Tedford. No one plays a bigger role each week when Cal creates its offensive game plan. No one is better suited to call Cal's offensive plays. It simply makes sense for Tedford to do this job, just as it made sense for Bill Walsh to call the plays at Stanford and with the 49ers. Tedford said he hired Dunbar to incorporate parts of the spread attack into his more traditional scheme, not to go all-spread, all the time. With Dunbar calling most of the plays, Cal led the Pac-10 in scoring and total offense. It's hard to complain about those rankings. On the other hand, the Bears offense struggled down the stretch in the regular-season, scoring a combined three touchdowns against Arizona, USC and Stanford. Cal lost to the Wildcats and Trojans and beat the Cardinal by just nine points.

"I don't think that had anything to do with play calling," Tedford said of the slump. "I really don't. I thought Mike did a nice job of calling plays. ... I agree with Mike's philosophy of play calling." That's all well and good. But it's only logical that there were some kinks in Cal's offense last year. Because Dunbar, who made a name for himself at Northwestern as a spread offense guru, was helping to design game plans and was calling plays for an offense that was still primarily Tedford's. How couldn't there be a disconnect of sorts? "We're not going to be 100 percent spread," Tedford said. "We're going to mix and match and try to balance certain concepts and schemes, depending on who we're playing. That's the goal. Mike really likes to be completely spread." Tedford said his expanded role will make him adjust his game-day approach this season. Last season Tedford was able to pay closer attention to all aspects of the game as it unfolded. This year he'll need to lean more toward play-calling tunnel vision. "I heard something the other day on TV. Bill Walsh was talking about how he had to remove himself from the game when he was a play caller," Tedford said.  "So all the other things would be external, so he could just focus on down-and-distance and play calling. It takes a lot of concentration to set things up and to do that."  For Cal, that's a tradeoff worth making if it means Tedford's free to concentrate on making the right moves in his gridiron chess match.


Friday, March 23, 2007 Jackson proving to be a money player for Cal

By Olin Buchanan

It was in DeSean Jackson's fourth year that close observers saw he could develop into a premier receiver.  Not his fourth year at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School, when Jackson was rated a five-star prospect by  Just in his fourth year.  "When I was growing up, living in Hollywood, my brother picked up a football and threw it to me and I caught it," said Jackson, who now stars as a 6-foot, 170-pound receiver for the University of California. "I was about 4. From that day on, I was catching the ball."

Byron Jackson, a former San Jose State receiver who spent two seasons on the Kansas City Chiefs developmental squad, is 18 years older than his DeSean. Byron remembers the story a little differently.  "We had a Nerf football and I would throw it high in the air and DeSean always dropped it," Byron said. "One day I said, 'If you catch it I'll give you five dollars.' And he caught it. It seemed like every time I put money on the table – every time – he caught it."

Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

AP: Ainge's Surgery Is Successful

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge underwent successful surgery on his right knee Monday and has been released from UT Medical Center. Head Athletic Trainer Jason McVeigh reports that the torn meniscus cartilage was removed and he expects Ainge to make a recovery to full activity within 3-6 weeks.   The Vols conclude their spring practice with the EdAmerica Orange and White Game on March 31. “This injury to Erik is not expected to impact the 2007 season or his long-term health in any way,” McVeigh said.   Drs. Greg Mathien and Russell Betcher of the Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic performed the surgery. Tennessee returns to practice this week with workouts Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, followed by a Saturday scrimmage in front of the annual coaches clinic attendees.

Daily Cal: Three Freshmen Compete for Starting Role at Cornerback

BY Vincent Tannura

As the Cal football team began its second week of spring practice Monday, many key positions—quarterback, tailback, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive line—appeared to be set.    One of the most glaring uncertainties that has emerged thus far is the hole at cornerback after the departure of All-American and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Daymeion Hughes.  Coach Jeff Tedford, however, seems unfazed by the daunting task of replacing one of his biggest playmakers on defense from the past two seasons.  “I feel good about it because our guys are so gifted,” Tedford said. “It’s definitely not a panic situation. We probably have more depth at corner than we’ve ever had.”

Despite the confident words of the head coach, the fact remains that Hughes posted 72 tackles and eight interceptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns in 2006—all contributions which will have to be accounted for by some other member of the secondary.  All-Pac-10 Freshman Syd’Quan Thompson appears to have a strong grasp on one of the starting cornerback spots, and should help fill the void left by his former teammate.  At this early juncture, there appear to be three frontrunners for the remaining cornerback slot. Charles Amadi, Darian Hagan and Brandon Jones, all redshirt freshmen, will vie for a shot at a starting job during the spring.  Amadi hails from Fresno and attended Edison High School, the alma mater of fellow Cal defensive backs Robert Peele and Bernard Hicks. He is just about as intelligent a player as they come, but he is currently nursing an ankle injury, which could hurt his chances of winning the early favor of the coaching staff.

“I need to improve my reaction time because I hesitate a lot looking for the double pump,” Amadi said. “But I’d say my main strength is my mental toughness. I’m battling through a right ankle injury right now, through fatigue, all of it.”  While Amadi considers his mental fortitude to be his best asset, Hagan sees his future contribution deriving from his attitude on the gridiron. A self-prescribed ball-hog, Hagan was a standout receiver at Los Angeles’ Crenshaw High School, the same alma mater as Hughes.  “My strength is that I see the ball in the air and feel as if I’m the receiver,” Hagan said. “I look at it as a continuation. (Hughes) did it on the high school level, I did it on the high school level. He did it here, now it’s my turn to do it here.”  Jones, the final candidate for the job, is originally from Seattle, having attended O’Dea High School. Jones is the son of former NFL fullback Lyndall Jones, and his lifelong exposure to the game has informed him of the importance of a worthy secondary.  “I’m always one to say I can improve on everything. The spring practice is letting me know what I need to work on,” Jones said. “We’ve got big shoes to fill, and it’s important because our corners need to be respected by other teams.”  The three young hopefuls have been rotated in and out with the starting group since the beginning of spring practice, with the coaches trying to distribute reps equally in order to evaluate each individual player.

All three players agree that the competition will be beneficial not only to themselves, but also to the team.  “We don’t take the competition too seriously. Football is fun, and there is not animosity between the DB’s,” Amadi said. “We all just want the best player to be out on the field.”

Monday, March 19, 2007 DeSean Jackson up for Fred Biletnikoff Award

Here is the link.


1. DeSean Jackson, California, Jr. : There were several receivers who had more catches last season, but few matched Jackson as a deep threat. Nine of his 59 catches in 2006 went for touchdowns, and five of those were from 27 yards or farther. He averaged 18.0 yards per reception. Jackson should benefit from the return of quarterback Nate Longshore. The Bears' schedule also includes eight opponents that ranked between 64th and 116th nationally in pass defense last season. The fact that he's also the country's most dangerous punt return man - he had four touchdown returns from 65 yards or farther last year - will only enhance Jackson's profile.

ESPN: Spring Look Around the Pac-10

Here is the link.


California Golden Bears

Spring practice starts: March 12

Spring game: April 14

Spring key: The Bears defense, which was surprisingly mediocre last year, has been gutted of its star power, particular the front seven, where three defensive linemen and two linebackers need to be replaced. While three of four starters are back in the secondary, Daymeion Hughes leaves a huge void at one corner. On offense, two line spots need to be filled, but the return of TB Justin Forsett and good young talent behind him should make Marshawn Lynch's early departure fairly seamless. Cal should be lethal throwing the ball -- all the key pieces of the passing attack are back.

Contra Costa Times: Cal looking for help in the secondary

Hughes' departure leaves the Bears with a big hole at defensive back

By Jay Heater

BERKELEY - If athletic talent was the measure of a cornerback, then Darian Hagan would be a college all-star right now.  Back-pedaling during practice at Memorial Stadium, he breaks into a sprint, stops as if he had just run into a tree, then cuts to his left and regains full speed in a heart beat.  Of course, facing up against the Pac-10's top wide receivers takes a lot more than raw skills.  Hagan is just a red-shirt freshman and all those physical skills won't mean much if he doesn't read his opponent well or gets sucked forward by a run fake.  Jeff Tedford's recruiting has put a lot of Hagans on the field ... players who could be playing in the NFL in the not-so-distant future if they handle their business. Cal's problem is that it doesn't have time for Hagan to learn the nuances of the game. The Bears need a cornerback now.

Daymeion Hughes, last season's Ronnie Lott Award winner, has departed, leaving a huge void in Strawberry Canyon. Leading the free-for-all to assume that position are Hagan, sophomore Jesse Brooks and red-shirt freshmen Charles Amadi and Brandon Jones. If any of those players wonder whether they can develop into a top notch cornerback in just one season, they only have to look back to last season when red-shirt freshman Syd-Quan Thompson was jammed into a starting role in the season opener, on the road, against Tennessee. Thompson, who wore a cast on his hand that day, was burned for two long touchdowns because he failed to make a couple of tackles. Mistakes by a cornerback can be lethal. Even so, Thompson recovered and eventually turned into the guy who is expected to garner national honors before his days at Cal are finished. Tedford was asked if he thought Thompson's adventures last season would be an inspiration to this year's crop of young corners who could well be in the same situation of learning on the job. "I think they learned by watching Syd-Quan that you have to be on top of your game," Tedford said. "There is a lot riding on it.

"And the most important thing about Syd'Quan is that he bounced back." It helped that Thompson has some incredible physical talents. Does Hagan have that kind of physical talent? "Yeah, I think he does," Tedford said. "But so do Amadi and Jones and Brooks. They are just like Darian, young and talented." Young, talented and inexperienced. Like the others, Hagan admits that he is anxious just to get into a game. "I've been waiting for this," he said. "It has been two years since I have played in a game." Was he ready to play last season? "I think the red-shirt year really helped," he said. "It got me to focus on ways to better myself. It gave me time to watch the older guys. I learned to focus on my assignments and it taught me to pay attention to details. I also had time to get used to the speed of the game."

Like Hughes, Hagan came out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. "I watched Daymeion in high school," Hagan said. "He was a senior when I was a freshman. We got closer here at Cal. He taught me some things." Did he teach him how to deal with adversity? "I know there will be some rough times," Hagan said. "But I also know that I have what it takes. I just have to prove it to everyone else." Tedford hopes he proves it soon. "He really shows a lot of promise," Tedford said of Hagan. "He has the size and the speed. He just needs to understand all the nuances."


Saturday, March 17, 2007

SF Chronicle: Regents OK Tedford deal

Rusty Simmons

The UC Board of Regents on Thursday unanimously approved Cal football coach Jeff Tedford's contract extension, which could pay him more than $4 million in the fifth year and keep him in Berkeley until 2013.  There wasn't much discussion about details of the extension among the regents. The contract was simply read aloud with the only interjection coming during the reading of the "accomplishments" portion.  When it was mentioned that Tedford will earn a $150,000 bonus if Cal wins the national championship, a regent exclaimed, "Go Bears!"  According to the contract, Tedford's base salary will jump 34.3 percent to no less than $225,000 and his "talent fee" rises from $1,332,500 to $1.575 million. There are also a number of highly profitable incentives, like winning a national championship, being named coach of the year and maintaining the team's cumulative grade-point average.  UC spokesman Michael Reese said the base salary will come from university funds, which is not necessarily state money since it can be from unrestricted donations. He said all of the reached incentives will be paid from private gifts and donations.  Tedford is 43-20 (.683) in five seasons, including leading the Bears to four consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. He led Cal to a co-Pac-10 championship, a 10-win season and a 45-10 rout of Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl in 2006.  The team drew a top-10 preseason ranking last year and is expected to be that high again in 2007, with most of its top players returning. Staff writer Tanya Schevitz contributed to this report.


SF Examiner: Dickey: Cal fans, Tedford's here to stay

In offering a contract extension to Jeff Tedford that should keep him in Berkeley for many years, the Cal athletic administration has learned from the mistakes of the past. In 1991, as Bruce Snyder entered the final year of his contract, athletic director Dave Maggard was working on an extension. Before it could be concluded, Maggard left the university. His successor, Bob Bockrath, did nothing to keep Snyder, even after Snyder’s team went 10-2 and won a New Year’s Day bowl game, the first for Cal in more than 50 years. When Tedford was hired as the Bears’ football coach, then-athletic director Steve Gladstone and associate AD Mark Stephens structured the contract with multiple incentive clauses. They were determined that Tedford would not be in a Snyder-like situation, where the coach was not being paid commensurate with his success. Current AD Sandy Barbour has continued that practice. The extension, which was scheduled to be approved by the university regents Thursday, calls for Tedford to get more than $1.8 million, with the possibility of more if he reaches certain incentives — including an average 2.8 GPA for his players.  That puts him well ahead of the average for Pac-10 Conference coaches.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Contra Costa Times: Tedford can cash in with bonuses

By Jay Heater

BERKELEY — Minutes after leading his team through a spring practice session at Memorial Stadium, Cal football coach Jeff Tedford was asked if he was anxious about the fact the UC Regents were voting today on whether to approve his new contract.  "I had no idea they were even voting," Tedford said. "This is the first day I found out that they were going to do it (today). I am just here, doing my thing."  Tedford doesn't anticipate any problems, but notes that he has nothing to do with the process.  The increases in his base salary (from $167,500 per year to $225,000) and talent fee (from $1,332,500 to $1,575,000) aren't significant when compared to salaries paid to coaches of other top-25 programs.  Once again, he will receive incentive bonuses for finishing parts of his contract. However, unlike his previous contract, in which he was to be paid a $2 million bonus at the end of the entire contact, his new deal pays out bonuses over time.  On Jan.8, 2009, Tedford will receive a $1 million bonus if he completes the 2007 season and postseason as Cal's head coach.

If he remains coach through the end of the 2011 season, he gets another $1.5 million. If he finishes the current contact, which expires at the end of the 2013 season, he will receive another $1 million. Although other bonuses could raise his salary as high as $4,285,000 in 2011, it is unlikely. Cal would have to start churning out national championships next season.  When told that his new contract could pay him as much as $4,285,000 million, Tedford emphasized, "This is nothing new."

He explained that his new contract virtually is the same as the old one in terms of incentives.  While the base salary and talent fee increased and the bonus for completing seasons changed in structure, the other incentives were in his old contract.  Those incentives include:

-$50,000 for the season in which Cal plays in a BCS game and all subsequent years in the contract.

-$150,000 for a national championship (Associated Press or BCS).

-$25,000 for a non-BCS bowl game.

-$100,000 for being named national coach of the year.

-$50,000 for being named Pac-10 coach of the year.

-$25,000 for team grade-point average being 2.75 or higher.

Tedford also will receive bonus money tied to the building of the Simpson High Performance Center and the stadium renovation. If he is coach when the team moves into the Simpson Center, he receives $250,000. If he is coach when the team plays its first home game in renovated Memorial Stadium, he gets another $250,000.   If Tedford leaves the program before the Simpson Center is finished, he must pay Cal $150,000 for each remaining year on his contract. If he leaves after the center is complete, he must pay $300,000 for each remaining year on his contract.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

AP: Ainge Will Have Surgery On Injured Knee on Monday

(Note: Ainge is Tennessee’s quarterback, who Cal will be playing at our season opener)


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge will have surgery next week on his right knee to repair or remove torn cartilage.  Ainge is out for spring practice, which began Feb. 22 and ends March 31.  The doctors will determine how to correct the problem once they begin surgery. Their choices are to remove his meniscus or repair it. Removal would mean a shorter recovery time of four to six weeks while recovery from a repair would take between eight to 12 weeks but be "better for his long-term mobility," officials said.  The surgery is scheduled for Monday.

"I'm just glad we are able to take care of it," coach Phillip Fulmer said Wednesday in a news release. "It's another advantage of starting spring as early as we started it because it gives us plenty of recovery time."  Ainge, who will be a senior this fall, set the school's single-season record for completion percentage last season at 67 percent, going 233-of-348 for 2,989 yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.  The damage in his knee was discovered last week in an MRI.


SF Chronicle: Tedford: $4 million incentive to succeed

Rusty Simmons

Cal football coach Jeff Tedford's proposed contract extension wasn't voted on by the UC Board of Regents on Tuesday, but it was released to the public, detailing that he is about to get a huge bump in pay to more than $4 million a year if he reaches outlandish incentives and fulfills the life of the deal.  According to the contract, which is through 2013, "The maximum total potential payout under this contract occurs in year five in the amount of $4.285 million. Payment of this amount is dependent upon Mr. Tedford achieving all goals, including all those in the 'Accomplishments.' " The accomplishments include winning national championships and receiving national coach-of-the-year recognitions while keeping the team's cumulative GPA at 2.8 or better.  Judith Hopkinson, chair of the UC Board of Regents compensation committee, said the committee discussed the contract for about 20 minutes Tuesday and the full board will vote on the contract Thursday.  "He is an extremely valuable person to the university and the compensation is extremely high, but if you look at other NCAA coaches at universities with top performing teams, this is not out of line at all," she said. "The money that is being used is not state money or campus discretionary money. It will all be private money.

"The level of the compensation was certainly a matter of discussion. There were a lot of questions."  To alleviate most of those questions, the initial contract terms are simple. Tedford's base salary would jump 34.3 percent, from $167,500 to no less than $225,000, and his "talent fee"' would get a rise from $1,332,500 to $1.575 million. The talent fee is widely believed to be funded by Nike, which provided Cal with its dashing array of uniform combinations last season.  Market information submitted by the campus for Pac-10 head football coaches shows average base salaries at $306,451 and total compensation at $960,312. Notably, USC doesn't participate in the survey and is purported to provide potential compensation in the neighborhood of $3 million.  Many observers wonder if Tedford really plans to stay through 2013. His name was mentioned often in connection with high-profile college and NFL vacancies during the past year, and he reportedly was contacted by the Atlanta Falcons, the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.  "Although there was great interest in Jeff from the NFL, his heart is really with the college game and, in particular, with Cal," Tedford's agent, Mike Sullivan, said in January, when the extension was agreed upon. "The retention-bonus concept has been preserved, but in a different form."

We finally know what that means.  Tedford will receive a $1 million bonus if he is Cal's coach through the 2008 season, another $1.5 million if he finishes 2011 and yet another $1 million for completing the contract. He also gets a $1 million signing bonus.  The bonus must be repaid within 60 days if Tedford doesn't complete the 2007 season.  He has incentive for being the coach if and when the Simpson Student-Athlete High-Performance Center ($250,000) and the West Side improvements ($250,000) are completed. This encourages Tedford to help with fund-raising, but there isn't much of a penalty for leaving.  If he terminates the contract before the expiration of the agreement and before the football program fully occupies the proposed High-Performance Center, he has to pay the university $150,000 for each contract year remaining in the agreement, and if he leaves after the team fully occupies the center, he has to pay $300,000 for each contract year remaining. He also agreed that he won't be employed by any Pac-10 school during the term of the contract.  "There are advantages, psychological, emotional, to be associated with the University of California," Hopkinson said. "He will be able to oversee the building of a new team and also a new facility."  Also, Tedford will benefit from a pool of money that isn't reported in the contract. According to sources, he has a nearly $500,000 pot for compensation enhancements for his assistants.

Tedford is 43-20 (.683) in five seasons, including leading the Bears to four consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. He led Cal to a co-Pac-10 championship, a 10-win season and a 45-10 rout of Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl in 2006.  The team drew a top-10 preseason ranking last year and is expected to be that high again in 2007, with most of its top players returning. Staff writer Tanya Schevitz contributed to this report.

Terms of endearment

Some provisions in Cal coach Jeff Tedford's contract that has been submitted to the Board of Regents for approval:


Effective dates: Jan. 1, 2007-Dec. 31, 2013


Annual base salary: $225,000


Annual talent fee: $1,575,000


Retention bonus: $1 million if he's on the job through 2008 season, plus another $1.5 million if he stays through 2011 season, then another $1 million if he completes the 2013 season


Incentives: Each year, Tedford can supplement his income by: $150,000 for a national championship; $75,000 for winning or tying for the Pac-10 championship, or $50,000 for playing in a BCS bowl without winning Pac-10, or $25,000 for playing in non-BCS bowl game; $100,000 for being named national coach of the year; $25,000 for maintenance or improvement of team's academic performance

Construction: Tedford would get $250,000 if he remains until team moves into yet-to-be-built Simpson High Performance Center, and another $250,000 if he's there when the team plays a home game after West Side improvements are complete

Benefits: 20 vacation days, 12 sick days per year; standard health and welfare

Perks: Two courtesy vehicles; 30 season tickets and five parking passes; country-club membership; travel expenses for spouse to required events.

Maximum payout, Year 5: $4,285,000


Daily Cal:

Post-Lynch Era Begins With Spring Practice

Stephen Chen

Senior Justin Forsett was looking ahead to the Cal football team’s annual spring practice last week as Marshawn Lynch worked out in front of NFL scouts at Memorial Stadium.  “He’s about to be making a lot of money,” Forsett said of Lynch. “But he’s still level-headed. I’m happy for him.”  Forsett should be pretty happy himself because Lynch’s early departure means a prime opportunity for him.  The senior has served as Lynch’s primary backup for the past two seasons for the Bears, but Forsett will come into this season’s month-long spring ball—which began Monday—as Cal’s top tailback, a season after piling up 626 rushing yards. Forsett is atop in the country in career yards per carry among backs with over 260 attempts.  “He's been a very dependable guy for us,” Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. “Hopefully we can keep him healthy and he can play a major role.”

Forsett’s track record suggests the Bears can expect similar explosiveness in the backfield in the fall, but the team may benefit from his leadership and experience as well.

“I’ve been more of a leader by example these past years,” Forsett said. “Now I have to be more vocal, and I’m ok with that. It’s going to be fun.”  Despite returning 48 letterwinners—16 of them starters—Cal comes into the spring with a clear objective of finding the right combination of players in several positions. “I don’t think we have a full group that is battle tested,” Tedford said. “You have players here and there, but as far as a full group, it’ll be a big spring for that.”  Freshmen Charles Amadi and Darian Hagan, and sophomore Brandon Jones will compete to fill the void left by All-American Daymeion Hughes at cornerback.  The coaching staff will also evaluate the team’s top 8-10 candidates for the offensive line, which has spots open after the graduation of Andrew Cameron and Erik Robertson.

One battle that may be particularly interesting is the competition between freshman Kevin Riley and sophomore Kyle Reed as Nate Longshore’s backup at quarterback. Tedford said a decision will not be made until the fall, but both quarterbacks will have a lot to prove this spring.  “They’re both talented physically,” Tedford said. “It really comes down to their ability to run the offense.”  The Bears are more settled on special teams this season, considering they came into last spring without a punter. Tedford said it will be just as important for the team to find backups for kicker Tom Schneider and punter Andrew Larson, who are both entering their senior years.  Cal will hold a total of 15 practices during spring camp, which will conclude April 14. The Bears’ first game is Sept. 1 against Tennessee.  “Spring is very physical, its very rough,” Tedford said. “We put a lot of stuff in. Our philosophy is to saturate to the whole playbook. Most of the evaluation comes right now, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Daily Cal: Tedford Contract Awaits Regents' Approval

BY Julia Szinai

Cal football coach Jeff Tedford is likely to have his contract extended for an additional five years if it is approved by the UC Board of Regents at its meeting at UCLA this week.  Tedford’s new contract would be in addition to his current five-year, agreement, signed in 2004 and worth $10 million before incentives.  Tedford’s standing contract includes a $1.5 guarantee per season and a $2.5 million bonus if he stays with Cal for all five years.  Bonuses would also be awarded for winning national championships.  The new contract would go into effect after 2009 and would continue through 2013, according to UC Berkeley athletics officials.  The announcement about the contract was made during a post-season press conference in January.  The details of Tedford’s compensation package have not been disclosed to the public and will first be debated in a closed-session meeting of the regents’ finance committee before a final vote of the full board.

Under Tedford, who has coached the football team since the fall 2002 season, the Bears have accumulated a record of 43-20. In 2001, the Bears finished the season with a 1-10 record.  Since Tedford took over, Cal has played in four-straight bowl games after playing in only a total of four bowl games in the previous 22 seasons.  The Bears reached a No. 4 ranking in 2004, their highest national ranking since 1952.  Tedford, who was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in his first year at Cal, previously worked as Oregon’s offensive coordinator.  He also played on the Fresno State team and in the Canadian Football League after graduation.

SF Chronicle: Standing naked among the trees

Protesters sans clothes to have picture taken in embattled Berkeley oak grove

Carolyn Jones

Dozens of naked people are expected to converge on an embattled oak grove in Berkeley on Saturday for an artistic photography shoot.  San Francisco photographer Jack Gescheidt plans to take pictures of naked people posing with the oaks, redwoods, laurels and other trees next to Memorial Stadium. About eight protesters have been perched in the trees since Dec. 2, hoping to derail the University of California's plan to remove some of the trees to build an athletic training center.  The photo will be part of Gescheidt's Tree Spirit Project, a collection of mostly black-and white-images of naked people draped across, climbing, dancing around, reclining on and otherwise worshipping trees. His work has appeared in numerous galleries and publications.  Gescheidt approached the tree-sitters last week about including the oak grove in his Tree Spirit Project.  "It's his thing, but we're happy to participate in his vision," said protester Mike Kelly, noting that some protesters might disrobe for the photo.  The naked people are volunteers who support "Tree Spirit's mission to deepen our connection to and reverence for nature," according to Gescheidt's Web site.  The naked people might encounter more than tree-sitters, however. In 1992 UC banned nudity on campus in the wake of the highly-publicized au naturel jaunts of student Andrew Martinez, also known as Naked Guy.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Contra Costa Times: For Cal football, youth will be served

By Jay Heater
After capping a successful 2006 season by crushing Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl, Cal starts from scratch again today when spring football camp opens at Memorial Stadium. Practices are closed to the public, but the spring game April 14 is open. Coach Jeff Tedford realizes he has several holes to fill if the Bears, 10-3 last season, expect to challenge for the Pacific-10 Conference title. One of the most daunting is finding a cornerback to replace Daymeion Hughes, who will be playing in the NFL. Sophomore Syd'Quan Thompson will start at one corner, but the other spot is wide open. Leading the list of contenders is freshman Darian Hagan, whose situation is similar to Thompson's last year - Hagan has tremendous talent but no experience.
"You look at Darian change direction and you just go, whoa," defensive-backs coach R. Todd Littlejohn said. "He also has a cockiness that he brings to the position. He feels that you can't beat him. I like that. He moves so well, changes direction, and he can jump."
Hagan will compete against sophomore Jesse Brooks and freshmen Charles Amadi and Brandon Jones. On the defensive line, Cal needs an end and some depth. Freshmen defensive tackles Mike Costanzo and Derrick Hill are coming off knee operations, so their development will be key. Defensive-line coach Ken Delgado will be working to develop junior end Rulon Davis, a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder who has great potential but is technically raw. Tedford said he has to find backups at quarterback (sophomore Kyle Reed and freshman Kevin Riley are the main competitors) and tailback (freshmen James Montgomery and Tracy Slocum are the main contenders).
Starting quarterback Nate Longshore had a solid season in 2006 but needs to lose weight and work on his mobility, Tedford said. "He was pushing over 240 pounds at the end of last season," Tedford said. "He is a big person and he has to watch it. I want to keep Nate in the 225 to 230 range." Tailback Justin Forsett, who inherited the No.1 job after Marshawn Lynch's decision to enter the NFL draft, must prove he can be an every-down back. "Justin just needs to keep doing what he's doing," Tedford said. "He has been a very dependable guy for us. He will play a major role." As always in the spring, the coaches will tinker with possible changes. All-Pac-10 center Alex Mack will play some left tackle, and free safety Bernard Hicks might try his hand at rover. Mack's position might depend on the development of junior tackle Mike Tepper or freshman center Chris Guarnero.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Contra Costa Times: Cal football hits camp ready to work

The Golden Bears will begin to sort out several position battles when spring drills start on Monday
By Jay Heater
BERKELEY - It's less than three months since Cal crushed Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl and already the Bears have their sights firmly set on 2007. Spring camp opens Monday with a workout at Memorial Stadium and continues through the spring game on April 14. Practices are closed to the public, except for the spring game. Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he is very excited to get back to work on the field, but he also realizes that he has several problems to solve if the Bears expect to challenge for a Pac-10 title. One of the most daunting challenges will be to find a cornerback to replace Daymeion Hughes, who likely will be playing in the NFL next season. It's not like Cal has a lot of players who have logged significant minutes at that position. Sophomore Syd-Quan Thompson will start at one corner. The other spot is wide open. Leading the list of contenders is redshirt freshman Darian Hagan, whose situation is similar to the one Thompson occupied last year. He has tremendous physical talent and no experience.
"You look at Darian change direction and you just go, whoa," said Cal defensive backs coach R. Todd Littlejohn. "He also has a cockiness that he brings to the position. He feels that you can't beat him. I like that. He moves so well, changes direction, and he can jump." Hagan will be competing against other inexperienced players such as sophomore Jesse Brooks and redshirt freshmen Charles Amadi and Brandon Jones. On the defensive line, Cal has to find not only a starter at defensive end but some depth. Redshirt freshmen defensive tackles Mike Costanzo and Derrick Hill are coming off knee surgery, so their development will be key.
Defensive line coach Ken Delgado will be working hard to develop junior defensive end Rulon Davis, a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder who has all the physical tools but is raw in terms of the technical aspects of the game. Tedford said he has to find backups at quarterback (sophomore Kyle Reed and redshirt freshman Kevin Riley are the main competitors) and tailback (redshirt freshman James Montgomery and Tracy Slocum are the main contenders). Starting quarterback Nate Longshore had a solid season in 2006, but Tedford said he needs to lose weight and work on his mobility during spring ball. "He needs to shed some weight," Tedford said of Longshore. "He was pushing over 240 pounds at the end of last season. He is a big person and he has to watch it. "Trent Dilfer was the same way. If he did squats, he could blow up to 250 pounds. I want to keep Nate in the 225 to 230 range."
Tailback Justin Forsett, who inherits the No. 1 job with Marshawn Lynch's decision to enter the NFL draft, must prove he can be an every-down back. "Justin just needs to keep doing what he's doing," Tedford said. "He has been a very dependable guy for us. He will play a major role." Although Tedford has his third offensive coordinator (offensive line coach Jim Michalczik) in the past three seasons, he said his team won't be facing a challenge like it did last season when he added spread concepts under Mike Dunbar. "Our roles won't change much," Tedford said about his promotion of Michalczik to both offensive line and coordinator duties. "His (offensive coordinator's) role is more organizational. He pulls everything together." Michalczik will continue to coach on the field on game day while new quarterbacks coach Kevin Daft will be Tedford's "eyes upstairs." "Kevin is very smart," Tedford said. "He understands our offense and that's great because I won't have to teach it all over." As always in the spring, Cal's coaching staff will tinker with a few possible changes. All-Pac-10 center Alex Mack will play some left tackle and free safety Bernard Hicks might try his hand at rover. Mack's position might ultimately depend on the development of junior offensive tackle Mike Tepper or redshirt freshman center Chris Guarnero.
Although many of the key jobs on his unit are locked up, special teams coach Pete Alamar will be trying out players such as Lavell Hawkins, Montgomery, Sam DeSa and Jeremy Ross as kickoff returners. He also must find a new holder since Joe Ayoob graduated. Cal goes into camp in pretty good physical shape. Starting right offensive tackle Mike Gibson will miss the spring due to shoulder surgery and offensive guard Noris Malele will sit out after ankle surgery. Junior defensive end Phillip Mbakogu had a third knee surgery and his career appears to be over, although he hasn't given up yet. Defensive end Steve Kelly hasn't heard back from the NCAA on whether he will be granted a sixth season after losing two seasons due to injury. Kelly won't be able to participate in spring drills unless he gets a positive answer back.

ESPN: Look for USC, West Virginia to Play in '07 Title Game

(Thanks to Jim for sending me this)

By Mark Schlabach
My 2006 college football predictions proved to be so prophetic that my editors asked me to look into the crystal ball once again. Here's some of what I told you would happen during the 2006 season: I predicted Miami would struggle and end up playing in the Champs Sports Bowl. Hurricanes fans told me I was dead wrong. They were right -- the Hurricanes beat Nevada 21-20 in the lesser MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho. I told you Auburn would finish unbeaten and play in the BCS title game. The Tigers lost twice and didn't even play in the SEC championship game.
I told you Mitch Mustain would start at Arkansas (I didn't tell you he would transfer) and Matthew Stafford would start at Georgia. I told you the Big East would be better than the ACC (I also slightly suggested at midseason -- when Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina were struggling -- that the Big East was better than the SEC). So keeping that track record in mind (and who's really keeping score?), here are my early predictions for the 2007 season:

Here is the link.

2. The Trojans will finish on top: Southern California will be tested only twice -- at Nebraska on Sept. 15 and at California on Nov. 10 -- before finishing the season undefeated. The Trojans will play West Virginia for the national championship Jan. 7 in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, three weeks after the Trojans receive a formal notice of investigation from the NCAA for alleged violations involving 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.


20. TCU will crash the BCS party: West Virginia and USC will play in the BCS title game. California will play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Florida State will play TCU in the Orange Bowl. LSU will play Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Texas will play Georgia in the Fiesta Bowl.

SF Chronicle: Bears 'can't wait' for football return

Rusty Simmons

While the draft-eligible Cal players were running through drills for NFL scouts at Memorial Stadium this week, soon-to-be senior tailback Justin Forsett looked on with envy.

"I can't wait to get back out here," the soon-to-be starter said Tuesday.  With that simple sentence, Forsett may have replaced graduating linebacker Desmond Bishop as the voice of the Bears, because his comments seem to mirror the overwhelming consensus out of the Cal camp as it prepares to start its spring football schedule Monday.

The Bears have plenty to be excited about, having posted five consecutive winning seasons, advanced to four straight bowl games for the first time in program history and been ranked in the top 10 at some point in each of the last three years.  The hype intensified even more last week, when ESPN's Mark Schlabach predicted that Cal will play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, a berth the Bears haven't garnered since 1959.

Cal is scheduled to practice three or four times a week for the next two weeks, take a week off for the university's spring break and return for eight practices in the first two weeks of April. In his pre-spring practice news conference Wednesday, coach Jeff Tedford kept the attention on what Cal needs to improve to live to up to the anticipation.  "I don't think we have a full group that is battle-tested in every area," he said. "We have players here and there who are returning, but as far as full groups are concerned, it's going to be a big spring for that."  There is little question that Forsett, who leads returning backs with a 6.39-yards-a-carry average, will take over for soon-to-be millionaire Marshawn Lynch, and that the receiving corps will be among the nation's best. Still, questions abound in the secondary and along the offensive and defensive lines.

"Our goals are to incorporate some of the younger players into the rotation and stratify the depth at certain positions," Tedford said. "Cornerback is one where there are a lot of guys who haven't had any game time yet."  Freshman All-American Syd'Quan Thompson will anchor one spot, and Tedford said the other side is up for grabs for between Charles Amadi, Brandon Jones and Darian Hagan. There has also been talk that one of the three stud safeties will move over.   Youth along the offensive line will be served as both right tackle Mike Gibson and right guard Noris Malele will miss spring ball with injuries, and redshirt freshmen Mike Costanzo and Derrick Hill are expected to push Matt Malele and Mika Kane for defensive tackle spots.  The other competition in the spring will be for the backup quarterback spot behind Nate Longshore. Kevin Riley and Kyle Reed are both contenders.



Thursday, March 08, 2007

California 76, (4) UCLA 69, OT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- On the losing end twice against UCLA after owning first-half leads, California nearly let it happen again. This time, the Golden Bears got an extra five minutes and finished off the Bruins.  Ayinde Ubaka scored eight of his career-high 29 points in overtime and California stunned fourth-ranked UCLA 76-69 in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals Thursday night.  "We fought too hard to give this one back," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "We were frustrated that we had two games with pretty good leads and lost."  UCLA's second straight defeat dealt a serious blow to its hopes of being a No. 1 seed in next week's NCAA tournament.  "I don't even care," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "If we don't play better than we're playing right now, anyone in the field of 64 teams will beat us."

Overtime turned into a blowout, with Cal outscoring the Bruins 15-8.  The game was a rematch of last year's Pac-10 title game, won by UCLA on its way to a runner-up finish in the national championship game.  Ryan Anderson added 18 points for the eighth-seeded Bears (16-16), who gave up a 16-point first-half lead.  "This is what I'm going to remember (from) my freshman year," said Anderson, who had a career-high 27 points in a 70-51 opening-round win over Oregon State.  Ubaka, a senior guard, encouraged his teammates to keep the upset in perspective, with No. 16 Oregon waiting in Friday's semifinals. The teams split their two meetings this season.  "This is great, but we have another game tomorrow," he said. "Oregon doesn't care that we won this game."  Darren Collison had 20 points, Josh Shipp 19 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute 13 for the top-seeded Bruins (26-5), who lost their regular-season finale at Washington.

"It's a definitely disappointing way to end the season," said a glum-looking Shipp, who hit five 3-pointers in the first half. "We had a couple of mental mistakes."  UCLA's Arron Afflalo, the Pac-10's player of the year, had his worst offensive performance of the season with three points, ending a streak of 29 games in double figures. "It's hard to swallow, that's for sure," he said. "It's going to be a long week. The way I played tonight was a majority of the reason why we lost."  Free-throw shooting, a persistent problem for the Bruins, did them in, too. They were 15-of-29 from the line, while Cal hit 20-of-25.  Ubaka tied the game at 59 on a 3-pointer after a wild scramble with 54 seconds left in regulation. Collison drove the lane and scored to put the Bruins in front until Ubaka's floater with 15 seconds left forced overtime.

"We know he goes right, the scouting report says he goes right and he did exactly that and made a great shot," Howland said. "Ubaka absolutely dominated the game."

Collison couldn't answer again when his 3-pointer missed in the closing seconds.  "I thought we had momentum going into overtime," he said. "We spent so much energy coming back."  Afflalo scored his only field goal of the game to open overtime, but he never connected again. The Bruins watched as shots hit the rim and the Bears' offensive momentum continued unabated.  Afflalo, who prides himself on being UCLA's top defensive player, guarded Ubaka.  "What did he get, 29 points? That's unacceptable," Afflalo said. "It was my guy who was going above and beyond. I don't want to make an excuse for it. I'll make the adjustments."  Omar Wilkes, the son of former UCLA star Jamaal Wilkes, scored on a one-handed scoop to tie the game at 63. Ubaka hit a jumper that gave Cal the lead for good. Eric Vierneisel made four consecutive free throws as the Bears pulled away.  "Ayinde is a winner. In every game that goes into overtime or is close down the stretch, he has his fingerprints on it," Braun said. "He's willing to take big shots, he's willing to have the ball in his hands. It's nice to have a senior and a four-year starter like Ayinde who's been in the trenches."

Down by 12, the Bruins opened the second half with a scoring burst nearly identical to the one Cal generated in the first 20 minutes. Their 20-4 run helped them take the lead, 45-41, for the first time since the game's opening moments.  Collison had nine points, including a steal and fastbreak dunk, and Mbah a Moute added six.  The Bears struggled on 1-of-8 field-goal shooting against UCLA's increased defensive pressure.  Mostly though, the Bruins went to the line as Cal was called for 10 fouls in 8 1/2 minutes after having six in the first half. The Bruins were only 7-of-17 from the line in that stretch.  Neither team led by more than four points over the final 8 1/2 minutes of regulation.  Ubaka's 3-pointer went in as the shot clock expired, putting Cal ahead 56-53. The Bruins scored six straight points for a 59-56 lead before Ubaka's two straight baskets ensured overtime.  The Bears outscored UCLA 23-5 in the first half for a 16-point lead. Afflalo had zero points and three fouls, while Collison was scoreless with five of UCLA's 11 turnovers.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cal Alums in the NFL Update

Newberry signs with Raiders

Jeremy Newberry has become the latest 49ers player to jump across the bay to wear silver and black. The center agreed to a one-year deal with the Raiders on Tuesday that will pay him $1.5 million, with no signing bonus.  The deal also includes an injury waiver that protects the club in case Newberry's well-documented knee problems derail his 10th NFL season.  "This means a lot to me. I like what coach Kiffin has got going on over there. I think he has a hell of a staff in place and I'm really excited about playing for him,'' Newberry said Tuesday afternoon after completing a 40-minute session on the treadmill.  That workout might say something about the state of Newberry's health.  "My knees feel awesome. I haven't been able to run like that in three or four years,'' said Newberry, 30, who has undergone microfracture surgery on both knees to stimulate new cartilage growth. "I had my physical (Monday) and the doctor said he's seen worse cartilage on kids coming out of college. I feel great.''

Read the entire article here.


Banta-Cain joining 49ers

Linebacker seen as pass-rusher

The 49ers' free-agent haul got bigger Tuesday with the signing of former Patriots pass-rush linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.  ESPN reports the three-year deal comes with a $12.2 million price tag, and as yet, there's no word on how much is guaranteed. The former Cal defensive end hopes to fill the 49ers' need for a pass rusher.  He notched only eight sacks in four seasons in New England, but for most of that time, he played mainly on special teams, sparingly on defense, after being chosen in the seventh round of the 2003 draft. While starting the final seven games for injured Junior Seau last season, Banta-Cain registered five and a half sacks, and collected two more in the playoffs.

Read the entire article here.

SF Chronicle: Cal prospects try to showcase skills in series of drills for scouts

Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer

The littlest things can be the most haunting.  Daymeion Hughes learned that Monday night as a tenth of a second kept him from sleeping a night before Cal's Pro Day, which, for most players, was their last chance to get measured, log times and run drills with the intention of impressing NFL scouts.  "I know it doesn't really make sense to let it bother me like that, but I can't help it," the All-Pac-10 cornerback said.  The most important tenth of second in Hughes' life comes from a stopwatch measurement of his 40-yard dash time. Anything faster than a 4.5-seconds finish would solidify his position as a first-round pick, and anything slower could result in a huge drop.

At last month's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Hughes, who said he was slowed by a back injury, ran a 4.65, and most draft experts deemed his stock to have taken a more precipitous fall than any of the other 300 potential picks at the event.  "I wanted to go down there and compete," he said. "That's the only reason I ran. I wanted to show people that I'm not scared to run in front of people."  Most of the 30-plus professional scouts who attended Tuesday's athletic meat market at Memorial Stadium clocked Hughes at 4.56-seconds, but he said one scout told him that he ran a 4.47.  "If you play with a stopwatch and start it and stop it as fast as you can, it's like a tenth of a second," Hughes said. "That's the difference in a 4.4 and a 4.5, and I don't see how that plays a very big deal in your football ability."  No one is questioning Hughes' ability or his production. Before he was injured at the Senior Bowl, he put on one of the game's most impressive days of practice, starting to refute the perception that he'll have to play for a Cover-2 team in the NFL.

"We all care about the measure-ables," one NFL scout said, "but I'd gladly have him on my team if he falls to us."  Of the four Cal players -- Hughes, linebacker Desmond Bishop, tailback Marshawn Lynch and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane -- who were invited to the Combine, only Hughes and Bishop ran again at the Pro Day.  "This is all necessary for me," said Bishop, who ran a 4.8 at the Combine, making many scouts believe he is a two-down player. "I may not impress people out here, but I hope they look at my film."  Lynch impressed scouts with his numbers at the Combine (4.46 40-yard dash, 20 bench repetitions of 225 pounds and ranking in the top 10 in both jumps and the cone drills) and with his skills set, which he showed off with a series of drills at Pro Day.  After one leaping catch Tuesday, a scout joked, "We may play him at receiver," but Lynch wanted to do even more. He tried to sneak in for a rep at quarterback between Joe Ayoob and Steve Levy.  "They didn't let me throw today," Lynch joked, "but one day, I might get my break at my dream position."  Along with the four certain draft picks, a number of other former Cal players went through the gauntlet for a chance at catching some eyes. Receiver David Gray drew raves for his size and athletic ability, offensive tackle Andrew Cameron dispelled some fears about his injury history by speeding through a set of drills without knee braces and tailback Marcus O'Keith zipped out the best times of the day, including a 4.4 40-yard dash.

"I was kind of mad at him for beating some of my numbers," Lynch joked, "but he's my brother, so it's OK."  The certain star of the sunny afternoon was newly chiseled linebacker Mickey Pimentel, who actually provoked applause from the usually business-first scouts after his performance in a cone drill. Ever the competitor, Pimentel wasn't satisfied. "I could have sworn I was 6-foot, but they said I'm not and that may not be tall enough," he said. "I guess I should have worn high heels.  "I feel like everyone was sleeping on me, so I hope that I opened some eyes and shined enough that my name will get out there."  

Briefly: Cornerback/return specialist Tim Mixon, who missed the season with a knee injury, and offensive guard Erik Robertson (calf) couldn't run, so they'll work out for scouts March 29.


Daily Cal: Ex-Girlfriend's Restraining Order Against Lynch Revoked

BY Keith Brown

An Alameda County judge Friday revoked a restraining order issued against former Cal football star Marshawn Lynch in January, saying that Lynch had not been sufficiently notified of court proceedings.   On Jan. 26 another Alameda County judge granted the restraining order to an ex-girlfriend of Lynch who alleged that Lynch committed battery and sexual assault against her in December.  Neither Lynch nor his attorney were present at this proceeding.  The woman’s filings for the restraining order said that Lynch had been personally served with notice of the restraining order court proceedings Jan. 15 on the UC Berkeley campus.

But Lynch’s attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach said Lynch was in Arizona on that date.  “It was a lie,” Schwartzbach said. “Marshawn at the time was in the Scottsdale-Tempe area, and had been there since Jan. 7. The judge had been misled to believe that he had received notice when he had not.”  On Jan. 29 the Alameda County District Attorney’s office announced that it considered the criminal allegations too unsubstantiated to press charges.   Lynch’s ex-girlfriend proceeded to hire attorney John Burris, who said at the time that his client would likely file a civil suit.  Schwartzbach said yesterday that so far no civil case has been filed. Burris did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Schwartzbach has said the allegations likely came about because of Lynch’s rising celebrity status, especially considering his future financial prospects.  The announcement of the restraining order drew media attention and speculation on what impacts a criminal case might have on Lynch’s future football career.  Lynch was the 2006 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, and has declared for the upcoming NFL draft.  “We’re very relieved it’s over, and very happy with it getting lifted, but at the same time there never should have been a restraining order,” said Lynch’s agent, Doug Hendrickson. “Every team is aware of this, and every team knows that there were no charges filed. All this will have absolutely zero impact.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Daily Cal: Bears Can't Hold On to Early Lead, Drop First Match of Season

By Vincent Tannura

Berkeley, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- After scoring an injury-time try to bring his Cal rugby squad within reach of the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) at 36-28, senior Rikus Pretorius walked over to the sideline to talk to assistant coach Tom Billups.  Billups informed him that the ensuing conversion kick would likely be the game's last play.  Pretorius gave a look of half-disgust, half-frustration, and when the whistle sounded seconds later, his look summed up the Bears' afternoon.  After a 78-12 win in its morning game against Sacramento State, Cal (17-1) squandered an 18-17 halftime lead in its latter game against OMBAC. The Rugby Super League Champions strung together three tries in a 13-minute span to take control late in the game and eventually win 36-30 at Witter Field on Saturday.  "We played a really hard game," Bears coach Jack Clark said. "That's a game we could have won with more accuracy in kicking. We gave up a couple soft tries."

Cal took an 18-17 lead on the last play of the first half, as senior Chris Gurecki knocked a penalty kick through for three points.  For the Bears, it was a good end to a tough half in which they struggled initially to adjust to OMBAC's speed.  "They're tough guys," said junior Jason Lee, who scored two acrobatic tries on the day. "They hit really hard, and they play so fast."  Despite the first-half success, the rest of the game only led to faster play and harder hits for OMBAC and frustration over missed opportunities for Cal.  In the opening minutes of the second half, the Bears pushed the pile across the try line for an apparent score, but the referee ruled that the ball had not been touched down, resulting in a five-yard scrum.  Two minutes later, on the same drive, Cal was called for offsides right at the edge of the try zone.

The Bears quickly stole the ball back, but Pretorius threw a forward pass right at the try line. Minutes later, Cal was once again held up after having pushed its way across the goal line.  The four consecutive missed chances cleared the way for an opportunistic OMBAC squad, which features 12 national team members, to take control.  Beginning at the 63 minute mark, OMBAC turned up the speed on the fatigued Bears unit, storming down the field three times to take a 36-23 lead.  "We're at the halfway point in our season, and I'd like to think that we'll have a lot more in us during the last 20 minutes of a game like that in a month from now," Clark said.  OMBAC took its advantage into extra time, and when Pretorius scored his try, the game's outcome had already been decided.  The general consensus was that the effort had been there, but that the Bears had been the victims of forced errors against a stronger, more experienced team.  "It was a challenge and I was really happy with everyone's effort," senior Chase Brogan said. "We showed a lot about ourselves and it will help us out down the road."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Scripps: Life not all football for Tedford


Jeff Tedford doesn't buy into the idea he's one of those tunnel-visioned football coaches who's clueless about the world around him.   Wait a minute. Let's revise the above. Tedford, the man behind Cal's return to college football prominence, wants you to know he has a balanced and rewarding life _ a very rewarding life _ nine months out of the year.   It's just during the season, the September-through-November grind, where Tedford retreats into his football bunker. No apologies. No guilt trips. He accepts the perception that his priorities are knocked out of shape and so does his family.  If others have a problem with his commitment, well, they haven't steered a football program toward its best run of success in a half-century. He has done that, and more important, he knows first-hand what it takes.  "There's only one way I can do this, and it's this way," he said earlier this week during a meeting with Cal fans at Del Rio Country Club. "My wife understands it. My kids understand it. They know what makes me tick. I've tried coming home at 10:30 at night. It's not healthy for me."

What is healthy for Tedford may surprise you. He sleeps Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night in his office during the season, rather than take the 35-minute drive to his home in Danville. That's his concession to the football monster that consumes him along with so many of his colleagues.   He allows himself to come home on Thursday night. Then, it's Friday night with his team on the eve of the game, followed by the typical event-filled weekend. He's a Bear in his lair during the season because he'd be lost any other way.  "From August through the end of the season, I don't think I've put gas in my car more than twice," he said. "I just don't go anywhere."  Coaches who don the football blinders aren't exactly unusual. Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wakes up each day at 3:17 a.m. Why? Because he believes sleep is overrated and, by the way, he's not comfortable with the possibility someone might be outworking him.  And that's what it's all about _ the fear of defeat. Frankly, coaches at all levels constantly play that card with their athletes. If the athlete chooses not to put in the extra hour or two, the coach warns that future opponents are doing just that.

"He's beating you right now," the coach says. "What are you going to do about it?"  At least coaches like Tedford place the same demands on themselves.  "I can't tell you how many times I've put another film on at 12:30 at night and found an answer that helped us win a game, by being there and continuing to work," he said. "If I were sleeping at home, it wouldn't have happened. That's just the way I work."  Some of the ivory-towered types at Cal probably have swallowed hard over such blue-collared behavior. Fact is, it's challenge-driven overachievers like Tedford who've made Cal the best public university in the nation. Those Nobel prizes aren't won by 9-to-5 clock-punchers.  All major accomplishments require some form of obsession. Fortunately for Tedford, his obsession has been approved by his wife and two teenaged sons. As for Cal, well, how can they question the man behind three bowl victories, two 10-win seasons out of the last three, and a share of the school's first Pacific-10 Conference championship since 1975?

It sort of comes with the territory that Tedford is not yet pleased with what he's done in Berkeley. For starters, the Bears have not yet reached their holy grail, the Rose Bowl, or a berth in the BCS Championship Game. Twice, in 2004 and 2006, the Bears were a win over USC away from Pasadena. Twice, the Bears failed.   "Like I told the team, this last 10-win season was the most hollow feeling we've had, only because of the expectations. We felt like we had an opportunity to do something really special," he said. "We came away from the season with a lot of appreciation for the senior class who made the leap of faith and helped us so much, but also knowing we aren't satisfied."  A case in point is Cal's 2007 season opener at home Sept. 1 against Tennessee. Tedford might add an office-overnighter for this one. His team, ranked ninth in 2006 preseason polls, laid a nationally televised egg 35-18 against the Volunteers in Knoxville.

"We have something to prove, probably more than we've ever had to prove any other time," Tedford said. "As long as I've been at Cal, we've never been beaten like that."

Then again, Tedford enjoys a fresh challenge, which is why he took on such a reclamation project at Cal. His peace of mind stems from one thing _ hard work.  "When I can put my head down at night and know I've spent every minute of the day trying to find answers to put our kids in position to be successful, then I can feel good about it," he says. "I can't cut it short."



Thursday, March 01, 2007

Coach Tedford Presents the 2007 Recruiting Class - Monday, March 5th - at the Bancroft Hotel fans will meet at the Bancroft Hotel Monday evening, March 5th, at 6:30 p.m. for snacks, beverages, and a presentation by Coach Tedford of videos of the new recruiting class - possibly Cal's best ever. He will provide background on each of the players and his potential at Cal.

The hotel is a few buildings west of College Avenue on Bancroft Ave. There is a small parking lot next to the hotel. Food will be available starting at 6:30 p.m.; the presentations will begin at 7:15 p.m. Come early to get a good seat.

The registration fee is $25 per person, payable in advance
via an online registration page. All proceeds in excess of room and food costs will be donated to Cal Football.

Click Here To Register

Come prepared with your questions for Coach Tedford. Cal Football - spring practice - will be rolling again in just a few weeks! We look forward to seeing you at the event.