Monday, March 31, 2008

Sporting News: Ranking the Pac-10 Coaches

Here is the link.

(The top 4 are Pete Carroll, Dennis Erickson, Mike Bellotti, and Mike Riley.)

5. Jeff Tedford, Cal. Part of a rich coaching tree with roots at Oregon, Tedford thinks about offense with the complexity of an NFL coach. And he is starting to see the big picture. Witness his willingness to relinquish play-calling duties to new coordinator Frank Cignetti, one of the bright young minds in the game.

Ayoob Leads Team to Season Opening Victory

Congrats to Joe.  Here’s the link.

Alameda Times Star: Cal's QB competition at heart of spring practice

By Jonathan Okanes

Nate Longshore greets a reporter for an interview and the discussion immediately turns to the competition to become Cal's starting quarterback.   Such discourse would have seemed laughable six months ago.  Much has changed for Longshore since the first half of last football season. He went from the returning, All-Pac-10, undisputed leader of the Bears offense to a senior-to-be fighting for his job and his future.  Spring practice for the 2008 season kicks off Monday at Memorial Stadium, and coach Jeff Tedford has opened up the quarterback position. Longshore will battle Kevin Riley for the right to lead Cal's offense next season.

There was never a question who would be the Bears' starting quarterback heading into last season. Longshore was a returning starter and no other signal-callers in the program had ever taken a snap in a game. Longshore was rated as the No. 1 junior quarterback in the country by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.  Longshore was not spectacular during the first half of 2007, but he still led the Bears to a 5-0 start and the No. 2 spot in the national polls. But a sprained ankle knocked him out of sync, and Cal dropped six of its final seven regular season games.

And when Riley replaced Longshore in the season-ending Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force and was named the game's most valuable player, it set up a position battle that will be followed with great intensity by Cal fans.   "It's going to be competitive at the quarterback position," Tedford said. "They're both team players and they want us to win. They're training real hard and I think competition makes everybody their best, so it's great to have competition at that position."

Longshore was victimized by inconsistency during the second half of last season, even after his ankle had fully healed. It left a faction of fans clamoring for Tedford to give Riley a chance.   The sprained ankle forced Longshore to miss the Bears' game against Oregon State. Armed with their 5-0 record and lofty ranking, Riley got his first college start and had a predictably uneven performance, but did lead Cal on an inspired fourth-quarter comeback effort. It fell short when Riley failed to throw the ball away with time running out on a now-notorious play that left the Bears 31-28 losers.   Even before the Armed Forces Bowl, Tedford announced he was opening up all positions, including quarterback. It was predetermined that Riley would see some playing time and after he came off the bench, Cal's offense immediately came alive.

Riley ended up going the rest of the way, completing 16-of-19 passes for 269 yards and three scores and leading the team on six straight touchdown drives.   So while Riley may be short on experience, he's armed with the confidence he derived from his Armed Forces Bowl performance, and to a lesser extent, his play against Oregon State.  "I'm going to have the attitude that I'm going to be the man," Riley said. "I want to be the guy. I want everybody on the team to want me to be the guy, and not leave any doubt. I want to make sure they want me in the game and they trust me."

There's no question the second half of last season took its toll on Longshore, who endured hefty criticism from fans. He said he took time to reflect on the season for about a month afterward, and then moved on.

Longshore downplayed the competitive aspect of the spring, instead choosing to simply focus on improving his play. Longshore said his goal is to play even better than he did in 2006, when he became just the second Cal quarterback ever to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season.   "To me, it's about improving and doing the best job that I can do," Longshore said. "I'm just trying to get better. I'm not worried about beating any other quarterback. I'm out there to beat the defense. I'm not out there to beat anybody else on our team."

There's probably more at stake for Longshore, given that this is his last season in college. Last season did some damage to his NFL stock, and standing on the sideline with a clipboard won't exactly give him a boost.

Longshore said he hasn't thought about the implications of possibly losing his job to Riley.   "If I put everything I have forward and I improve, no matter what happens I'll be happy with myself," Longshore said. "I'll be able to look myself in the mirror and know I did everything I could. If you're really satisfied with everything you've put into it and how hard you worked, you don't care about playing time. You can look yourself in the mirror."

Riley said it was a little awkward last season hearing some of the support for his playing time. He admitted that he would have loved to have gotten a chance earlier, but also tried to support Longshore as much as he could.  "It was a little strange. People would come up to me and ask why I'm not playing," Riley said. "Obviously, I wanted to be out there. Seeing what was going on (with Longshore), it was tough. It was bad break after bad break. You just have to go up to him, try to say something to him to pick him up.

"We're teammates. We're not mad at each other. We go in there and we still help each other. But we both understand what's going on. It's just part of the game. Nate has played two years of college football and has done some great things. He's a great quarterback. If I want to win this job I have to outplay him. That's why you play college football, for competition -- to be that guy."

This is a decision that won't be made anytime soon. Tedford said he likely won't decide on a starter until the week before the season starts at the end of August. That means Longshore and Riley will have several practices to state their case.  Tedford also said he will take a look at redshirt freshman Brock Mansion, who should push the other two candidates but really isn't a viable player in the race for the 2008 job.  And what is Tedford looking for in his 2008 starter?  "Running the offense, being smart with the football, putting us in position to move the football and scoring on offense," he said. "There's a lot more to it than just throwing the football. The mental part of the game at that position is critical. You're asking them to do a lot. Whoever puts us in the best position to win, that's what we are looking for."



Five issues facing Cal as it embarks on spring practice:

1. IT'S NOT A SNAP: Coach Jeff Tedford will not make a decision on who the starting quarterback will be by the end of spring. But Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley do have a chance to establish momentum going into the fall.

2. WHO ARE THESE GUYS?: Cal needs to find some wide receivers. After the departure of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan, the Bears have a combined 10 career catches from their current receiving corps.

3. BACKFIELD DEPTH: James Montgomery has transferred and Jahvid Best is out for the spring, so it will be a chance for Tracy Slocum and Shane Vereen to make an impression.

4. IT'S THE SYSTEM: Cal is talking increasingly about playing more of a 3-4 defense, and the spring will give the Bears plenty of chances to experiment with the system.

5. NICE TO MEET YOU: The spring also will allow players to get accustomed to the coaching styles of new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, new defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi and new defensive backs coach Al Simmons.

SF Chronicle: Cal's Riley set for his time at controls

By Rusty Simmons

Growing up the youngest of three brothers, Kevin Riley always felt like he was last to get to do everything.

"When my brothers would finally give me a chance to play video games, I never wanted to lose because I knew that would be my last chance for a while," said Riley, a soon-to-be sophomore quarterback at Cal. "Once I got the (video-game) controller, I wanted to keep it as long as I could."   Coach Jeff Tedford has opened competition for nearly every position during spring practice, which begins today, and the sexiest story is the fight for the quarterback job between Riley and incumbent Nate Longshore. That means the wait for a chance to grab the reins to Cal's offense is finally over for Riley, and he's looking to put a stranglehold on the position.

Riley, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder from Beaverton, Ore., plans to approach this competition the way he did with his brothers. He has a hunger for competition, relaying stories of being furious about things as insignificant as pickup basketball games during high school PE classes.  "Nate and I both want to be No. 1, and we'll be pissed if we're not, but that doesn't change the fact that we're friends and will be rooting for each other," Riley said. "I've been waiting for a long time to have this chance, and I've got to make the most of it and gain my teammates' confidence."  Riley has been waiting because Longshore, a 6-5, 230-pounder from Canyon Country (Los Angeles County), has refused to give way. After a 3,021-yard, 24-touchdown, 10-win season as a sophomore, Longshore's numbers dropped to 2,580 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven wins last year, when he was dealing with a nagging ankle injury.

Longshore has not backed down from a challenge, either. He won the job as a redshirt freshman but broke his leg in the season-opener and had to win the spot again as a sophomore.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Memorial Stadium Lawsuit

If you are bored, you can go to the Alameda County Superior Court’s website HERE and look at documents related to the lawsuit.


Search under Case Numbers:

RG06302967  California Oak Foundation vs. The Regents of the University of California

RG06301644  Panoramic Hill Association VS The Regents of the University


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Sports Network: Cal fires men's hoops coach Braun after 12 seasons

The University of California announced Wednesday that head men's basketball coach Ben Braun, a veteran of 12 seasons in the Pacific 10 Conference, has been relieved of his duties.   "This was an extremely difficult decision that was undertaken with great care and diligence," said Cal director of athletics Sandy Barbour. "However, in the final analysis, I have determined that it is time for Cal to seek new leadership in our men's basketball program. Competing for conference championships and a place in the NCAA Tournament are goals and expectations that are embraced at Cal. Unfortunately, we have not been able to consistently meet those expectations in our men's basketball program."

Braun went 219-154 and reached five NCAA Tournaments during his 12 seasons with the Bears, but Cal was a disappointing 17-16 overall and 6-12 in the Pac-10 this season. A 73-56 loss at Ohio State Monday in the second round of the NIT served as the finale to the team's season.   Meanwhile, six other Pac-10 schools received invitations to the Big Dance, with UCLA, Stanford and Washington State surviving the tourney's first weekend and reaching the Sweet 16.

Over the past five seasons, Cal has reached the NCAAs just once - in 2006 - and was bounced in the first round. The Bears finished eighth or ninth in the league three times in the past four seasons, and went just 39-51 in Pac-10 contests from 2004 to 2008.   Braun arrived in the Bay Area in September of 1996 after a successful tenure as head coach at Eastern Michigan. In his first season, he guided the Bears to a 23-9 record and a Sweet 16 appearance, then reached the postseason five of the next six seasons - three times earning NCAA berths.

With 219 career victories at Cal, Braun ranks second on the school's all-time list behind Nibs Price, who patrolled the sidelines in Berkeley from 1925-54. The University of Wisconsin graduate also coached a pair of Pac-10 Players of the Year in Ed Gray (1997) and Sean Lampley (2001), as well as Leon Powe, the league's Freshman of the Year in 2004.

"I'd like to thank the Cal community for 12 great years of support," Braun said. "I've had the privilege to coach at one of the top universities in the country, and I'm proud of the program we've built. Going to eight postseason tournaments has been very special. I'm obviously disappointed that my staff and I won't be able to coach this team next year, and I feel they will be very successful."

According to Barbour, a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately with the aid of the firm Eastman & Beaudine, Inc. In the meantime, associate head coach Louis Reynaud will direct the program.


Contra Costa Times: Former QB tries something different

Van Meter, buried on the depth chart, gives up football for rugby

By Jonathan Okanes

BERKELEY -- Bryan Van Meter had been in Cal's football program almost four years before he finally got to run around on the field during a game. That was one of the signs that it might be time for something new.

Van Meter, a reserve quarterback, left the Bears program after last season to try rugby. A walk-on stuck behind Nate Longshore, Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion on Cal's depth chart, Van Meter took the field only as kick holder.

It was a job he took seriously and handled well last season. And when usually flawless long snapper Nick Sundberg sent one sailing over Van Meter's head on an extra-point attempt at Washington in November, Van Meter had to -- get this -- run after the ball.   "That was the first time I ran in a game," Van Meter joked. "(Holding) is not doing much, but it's a way to get on the field. It was something I was proud of."  Van Meter enjoyed being part of the Bears' football program, but with only one year of eligibility remaining and virtually no chance of taking snaps in a game, he decided he didn't want to go through another season getting no reps at practice.

But Van Meter didn't just change sports. He tried out for one of the best rugby programs in the universe, despite having virtually no experience in the sport. The result? Because of a rash of injuries to Cal's wings, Van Meter has become a regular member of the Bears' playing rotation, starting eight games and scoring two tries.

Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

ESPN: Cal's Jackson studying up for NFL Draft under Rice's tutelage

(Thanks to Nick for this link)


BERKELEY, Calif. -- DeSean Jackson pivots, stoops and snags a football just before it hits his shoetops. He sprints downfield, and the three-dozen scouts at Memorial Stadium nod in unified approval.  The former California receiver and punt returner even impresses Jerry Rice, who's taking a personal interest in making sure Jackson gets where he wants to go next.  "He has all the talent in the world," Rice said while watching Cal's pro day from the sideline, his 1989 Super Bowl ring dangling from a chain around his neck. "There's no reason he can't be everything he wants to be at the next level."

As Jackson prepares for his early entry into the NFL draft, the former Golden Bears star has quite a tutor. He's getting football instruction and life lessons from Rice, the most prolific receiver in NFL history, before he enters the league as a probable first-round pick.  "He's my man, like my mentor," Jackson said. "He's been a great inspiration for me for a long time, and now to get to be with him is like a dream come true. He reminds me every day that to be the best in the world, it's all about working harder than anybody else."

Read the entire article here.

Sacramento Bee: Montgomery's audible a simple nay to the Bay

The former Cordova star says there's nothing more to his decision to leave Cal.

By Quwan Spears

Here’s the link.

The Bay Area might be a nice place for some people, but it wasn't for James Montgomery. That was why Montgomery, one of the Sacramento area's most recruited athletes while at Cordova High School, decided to leave the Cal football program even though he was projected to be a starter this fall.  "Berkeley is not the most normal place in the world," he said in a phone interview Thursday. "Coming from Sacramento, I just didn't like the surroundings. I pretty much didn't like the Bay Area."  Since his official release from Cal on Monday, rumors circulated that he left because of a dispute with Bears' coach Jeff Tedford over playing time. Montgomery said that was not true.

"Bottom line, I was not comfortable there," he said. "When you go to a place, you know when it's not right for you. And that was the situation. I'm not leaving because I got in to it with coach, or the members of the coaching staff.  "I'm not leaving because I have grade problems. And I'm not leaving because I was kicked out of school. I'm leaving because I was not happy there."  His former coach agreed. "He felt like there would be a better situation for him somewhere else," Tedford said Tuesday. Although he initially verbally committed to Washington, Montgomery signed with Cal to remain close to home. The proximity allowed him to frequently visit his mother, Cynthia Cooper, who had medical problems. With his mother's health improved, Montgomery has no reservations about transferring to any school in the country. Right now, Washington State, Florida and another Southeastern Conference school are in the running for his services, he said.

"It's wide open right now," he said. "But I'm considering schools that are in true college towns."  He said he hopes to make a decision by the end of the spring semester. Under NCAA rules, Montgomery must sit out a season once he enrolls at another college.  As a redshirt freshman last season, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Montgomery backed up senior Justin Forsett. Montgomery played in 13 games, rushed 36 times for 171 yards and scored two touchdowns. He caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. He was listed as Cal's staring tailback heading into spring practice that starts March 31.  Montgomery, a graduate of Cordova in 2006, was a Parade Magazine All-American as a senior and rushed for 4,900 yards and 89 touchdowns during his high school career. He was the most sought-after recruit to come out of Cordova since National Player of the Year Kevin Willhite in 1981.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Bear Insider: Final Arguments in Stadium Lawsuit

By Chris Avery

The March 20th final hearing at the Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward was not anti-climactic, it was non-climactic. There were no decisions, no Perry Mason moments. Instead observers mainly heard recaps of the expert testimony submitted by the two sides in previous weeks. Nevertheless, fascinating hints of future possibilities were heard.

The hearing began at 1 p.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m. with thanks from Judge Barbara Miller for the participation of all parties - and with her promise to publish a decision before the statutory limit of 90 days hence.  That fixes late June as an outer limit for a result; sources say a decision is expected within 30 days.

Those in attendance included Dan Mogulof (Cal Media Relations), Assistant Athletic Director Bob Milano (Capital Planning), and Ed Denton (Chief Building Official for the Berkeley campus).

Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean was also there, seen to be nodding in agreement with plaintiffs' arguments. Neighborhood activist Doug Buchwald and "Ayr", a member of the ground support crew for the tree-sitters were there representing the oak grove protesters. The latter two have been frequently seen in the news reports about the yearlong protest.

On February 20th both sides filed expert testimony that addressed a specific topic the judge requested in her order of December 10th - whether the new athletics center would be structurally independent from the stadium or an upgrade to it.

Read the rest of the article here.


LA Times: Upland QB Nunes is Becoming Hot Prospect

It's another week and another scholarship offer for Upland 6-foot-4 quarterback Josh Nunes, a junior who's building a buzz this month. The latest to offer is California Coach Jeff Tedford.  "I was so excited to hear that they had offered me," Nunes said. "They have a strong tradition of winning up there and having a great coaching staff."  Nunes already has plans to take unofficial visits during spring break to Oregon, Oregon State, Boise State and Utah.

He's also expected to hang out next month at UCLA's spring football practices.  Will UCLA make an offer? If so, that will be a sign that new offensive coordinator Norm Chow has evaluated Nunes and endorsed him as a future standout.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

SF Chronicle: Offseason Intrigue: Running Back Leaves Bears

By Rusty Simmons
 Players listed the competition for Cal's starting tailback position as one of the most interesting to follow, but no one predicted that James Montgomery would add intrigue to the situation before spring practice even started.   "We've got some studs there," junior linebacker Zack Follett said recently, "so we're anxious to see how it plays out."  There's one fewer "stud" now, a day after Montgomery was granted his release from scholarship by coach Jeff Tedford. Montgomery, a 5-foot-9, 205-pounder from Rancho Cordova High, and his mother met with Tedford for about an hour before receiving the release.

"James Montgomery asked for his release and I granted it," Tedford said in a statement. "He felt like there would be a better situation for him somewhere else."  Montgomery, who was listed as the starter on the spring depth chart despite recovering from a minor knee surgery, was expected to compete with up-and-coming redshirt freshman Shane Vereen, soon-to-be sophomore Tracy Slocum and Arizona-recruit Covaughn Deboskie. Jahvid Best, who isn't expected to participate in spring drills as he recovers from a hip injury, might be the front-runner if healthy by training camp.  "It's a shock to everybody," said Justin Forsett, the senior starter last season who is projected as a second-day NFL pick. "It's unfortunate that he's no longer a Bear, but sometimes you have to do what is best for you."

Read the rest of the article here:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cal Wins in First Round of NIT

In front of a high-school sized crowd of 1,906 at Harmon Gym (I refuse to call it anything else), the higher-than-64th-ranked Bears beat the New Mexico Lobos 68 to 66, forcing the team to continue the season for at least one more game.  The Bears “advance” to play Ohio State on March 24, at 7:00 p.m. Regrettably, it will be televised on ESPN. You can read about it here.

ESPN: Boateng has much to prove on and off the field

Nyan Boateng didn't play for California in the 2007 season, but he doesn't need his Cal teammates to describe the excruciating experience of tumbling from touted to maligned. He knows all about it. Boateng, a Florida transfer, watched from the sidelines as the Golden Bears fell from No. 2 in the country to No. 7 in the Pac-10. They followed up an impressive 5-0 start that included victories over Tennessee and Oregon with a complete implosion -- six defeats in eight games.  

It played out a lot like Boateng's football career to that point.   Now the Bears, desperate to find playmaking receivers, and Boateng, desperate for a second chance, hope to help each other rebuild and redeem their standing and reputation.  California is counting on Boateng to step in for a receiving corps that lost all of its production from a year ago, with DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan expected to be drafted this spring.  But Boateng, a Brooklyn, N.Y., product and one of the top recruits from Urban Meyer's first recruiting class in 2005, has a lot to prove on and off the field.

He arrived in Gainesville with a reputation as a spectacular two-sport athlete with an abundance of confidence that he wasn't shy about sharing. He caught four passes for 77 yards and rushed for 16 yards on two carries as a freshman, but his modest highlights ended there.

Boateng signed with the Gators also intending to play basketball. He claims Meyer, after signing off on the idea during recruiting, tried to discourage his hoop dreams and penalized him on the depth chart for persisting.

"When my whole family is told I can play basketball and it won't jeopardize my football status, I expected nothing other than that," Boateng said. "It was completely different in reality when I got on campus."  Meyer said this week he has no problem with his players going out for other sports, noting that receiver Riley Cooper is presently playing baseball and a couple of others are running track. He said his policy, however, requires that they be in good standing in the classroom and off the field.

Off the field is where things went south for Boateng as a sophomore. First, an ankle injury ended his season. Then he made headlines when a girlfriend stabbed him in the leg during a dorm room argument. The wound was minor and no charges were filed, but the damage was significant. Boateng was suspended from all team activities.   "That pretty much drove the stake through my heart," he said. "After that, my heart was no longer with the Gators even though I knew the program would have success."  Boateng said Meyer told other Gators to not associate with him after the stabbing, and Meyer doesn't deny that.  "When there are weapons around, I encourage our guys to stay away," Meyer said. "And a girlfriend stabbing a guy in the leg, I encouraged our guys to stay away."   Boateng transferred after the 2006 season, but his troubles didn't end there. Back in Gainesville in July of 2007 to finalize a divorce, according to the Tampa Tribune, Boateng got into an argument with another girlfriend, with whom he was staying.   After she denied him entry into her residence, he kicked in the door, according to reports. He was arrested and charged with burglary, battery and criminal mischief.  Boateng said that the woman in question was mad because he decided to stay with former teammates instead of her and she wouldn't let him inside to get his belongings.

"I should have called the police to go get my stuff," he said. "But I just went in the house and got my stuff and left. It was just me being a young guy, being dumb."  Jeff Tedford is looking for answers at WR.  While all charges were eventually dropped, Cal coach Jeff Tedford suspended Boateng, who would have been ineligible in 2007 anyway due to transfer rules. Tedford made it clear that trouble needed to stop finding Boateng, but he also saw a guy who had been saddled with a bum rap.  "You've got to find out all the information," Tedford said. "Once I found out all the information, I was satisfied there wasn't [too much] there. He wasn't charged with anything. It was a misunderstanding. And he's been a model citizen here."

Meyer, while annoyed by Boateng's contentions, footnoted his counter by saying Boateng "is not a bad guy."

That's not exactly setting the bar high, though. Boateng knows it's time to grow up. And Cal needs him to do that.   While the Bears' quarterback competition between Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley will garner the most attention when spring practices start March 31, few major programs will be as green at receiver as the Bears in 2008. Boateng qualifies as the second-most experienced, just behind LaReylle Cunningham, who owns 10 career receptions.  Not that there isn't potential. Redshirt freshman Michael Calvin is a dynamic talent and probably was good enough to play last season, while sophomore Jeremy Ross is a powerful athlete.  And as good as last year's receivers were, they were undersized. Not so this year.  "They're all 6-3-ish," Tedford said. "They can really run. They can leap out of the gym. And they've got very good ball skills."  The incoming recruiting class boasts five receivers, including a pair of junior college transfers, and Tedford said he expects one or two to earn immediate playing time.

Boateng, who said he plans to play basketball next year, is a bit of a wild card. Of course, he expects to lead the charge -- a charge that will redeem him and a program.  "I'm not trying to be cocky," he said, "but I know what my athletic ability brings to the football field."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Running back Montgomery leaves Cal program

By Jonathan Okanes

Cal's supposed depth at tailback doesn't look so extensive anymore after projected starter James Montgomery was granted a request to be released from his scholarship.  Montgomery, who would have been a redshirt sophomore next season, was listed as the Bears' No. 1 tailback on the team's depth chart heading into spring practice later this month. But the right to replace departed starter Justin Forsett was believed to be up for grabs, with highly touted sophomore-to-be Jahvid Best providing the stiffest competition.  Montgomery couldn't be reached for comment, but he told, a Washington fan site, that "it never felt right, really."  Montgomery originally orally committed to Washington before switching to the Bears. "Cal was never my first choice," Montgomery told RealDawg. "I didn't feel (Cal) was a (football) school that had a lot of tradition. They were ranked sixth in the country and yet couldn't sell out that week's game."  Not only was Montgomery firmly in the mix to see extensive playing time next season, it appeared one of the reasons coach Jeff Tedford pushed back the beginning of spring practice last week was to give injured players such as Montgomery a chance to participate. Montgomery is recovering from minor knee surgery and Tedford had said he should be fully recovered by the time spring sessions start March 31.  "James Montgomery asked for his release and I granted it," Tedford said. "He felt like there would be a better situation for him somewhere else. Fortunately for us, running back is a position with a lot of depth. We feel great about our talent at that position with Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen, Tracy Slocum and Covaughn DeBoskie."

It wasn't immediately known where Montgomery is headed, but he told RealDawg that he is considering transferring to Washington, Florida, Oregon or Fresno State.  Montgomery saw limited action last season as Forsett's backup and rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 48 yards and a score.  The Bears' spring stable of running backs suddenly is down to three players who have never carried the ball in a game -- Slocum, Vereen and DeBoskie. Slocum played on special teams last season as a redshirt freshman, Vereen will be a redshirt freshman next season, and DeBoskie is an incoming freshman who graduated from high school early and has already enrolled at Cal.   Best is recovering from a hip injury and will miss all of spring practice. Tedford has said he expects Best to be fully healthy in time for fall camp.  Montgomery came to Cal in 2006 as a decorated recruit who initially committed to Washington then switched to the Bears. Although Montgomery was regarded as the No. 1 tailback returning, many believe Best is the future of the program at the position. Best made an immediate impact as a true freshman last season, dazzling observers with his speed and explosiveness. He rushed for 221 yards and averaged 7.6 yards per carry, caught 13 passes for 74 yards and was an All-Pac-10 first-team selection on special teams.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fox Sports: Pac-10 Spring Preview

Here’s the link.


California Golden Bears

Spring Game: April 19
The early spring buzz ... Has Cal peaked under Jeff Tedford? It's a question the Bears will try to dismiss this spring, while attempting to eliminate the stench of last year's putrid 2-6 finish to the season. Cal is in the awkward position of fending off allegations it's an underachiever, an odd assertion about a program that was 1-10 earlier this decade. It's also facing a rare dearth of experience at the skill positions following the departures of RB Justin Forsett; WRs DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan; and TE Craig Stevens. Considering how well Tedford has recruited at these spots in recent years, any drop-off in production will be short-lived.
The big spring question is ... Is Cal about to get embroiled in an old-fashioned quarterback controversy? It might be unavoidable considering the inconsistent play of incumbent Nate Longshore and how well sophomore Kevin Riley played in the Armed Forces Bowl. The job remains Longshore's to lose, but if the more mobile Riley continues to mature, it'll be hard for Tedford and new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti to keep him out of the lineup this fall.
The most important position to watch is ... The left side of the offensive line. The backs and receivers are going to be green no matter what, but it may not be noticeable if the Bears can adequately replace LT Mike Gibson and LG Brian De La Puente. Cal is set on the right side and with All-American Alex Mack at center, meaning the rest of the offense will benefit dramatically if the left side of the front wall can be rebuilt on the fly.
Spring attitude... This spring will be Cal's first chance to recapture the swagger it had after starting 5-0 last October and coming within a hair of rising to No. 1 in the country. Most of the program's equity and goodwill have been squandered, making the road back to national respect a long one. For a change, the defense, led by a terrific trio of linebackers, might have to carry the Bears until the offense finds its rhythm.

Sunday, March 16, 2008 Cal Has Work to do After Rough Season

California has some soul-searching to do during spring practice. The Bears were ranked as high as No. 2 before going into a 1-6 tailspin to end the regular season. Cal recovered to beat Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl and discovered it will have a quarterback competition in the spring. Nate Longshore struggled during Cal’s slump while Kevin Riley led the comeback against Air Force with 269 passing yards and three touchdowns. Once assumed to be the biggest threat to USC in the Pac-10, Cal has some work to do to reclaim that title, especially on offense without DeSean Jackson and Justin Forsett. Here’s a look at the Golden Bears going into spring drills.

Read the rest here.

Contra Costa Times: Tedford reinstates tough love

BERKELEY -- It's cold. It's dark. It's 6:30 a.m. on a typical winter Friday morning, and Cal's football team has gathered at Memorial Stadium for some conditioning fun and games.  "There's cones, eight stations set up, and our coaches just run us into the ground," Cal senior linebacker Zack Follett said Tuesday. "They have trash cans by every station for throwing up.  "We're working hard. We haven't worked this hard since we've been here. There's no B.S. going on."  You knew changes were coming to Cal's football team in the wake of latest season's stunning fall from national title contention to something called the Armed Services Bowl.  These Friday morning get-togethers approaching the March 31 start of spring practice are just part of coach Jeff Tedford's master plan to get the Bears back on track after a 7-6 season that seemed like Armageddon to some Old Blues.  Tedford is cracking down, as he needed to do. But he's also lifting up his team's shattered spirits. It's a two-pronged approach, part iron fist, part velvet glove.  After what happened last season, the Bears need plenty of tough love and rehabilitation. Cal started 5-0 then lost six of its next seven games, including the Big Game to Stanford.

"At some point we lost our confidence," Cal linebacker Worrell Williams said. "We lost the fun in the game. So (Tedford's) bringing a whole new attitude." Tedford is drawing on some of the team- and morale-building skills he used six years ago when he arrived in Berkeley and took over a demoralized group coming off a 1-10 disaster.  Tedford was as much a sports psychologist as he was a football coach that offseason. His therapy sessions helped resurrect the careers of quarterback Kyle Boller and so many other downtrodden Bears. In Tedford's first season, Cal went 7-5.  "We're spending more time off the field talking about things," Tedford said. "We're having full-team meetings to be able to go over some things and talk. That's been good. I think the team's been very receptive, and I think they're getting a lot out of it."  This offseason, Tedford has used John Maxwell's book "Talent is Never Enough" as a teaching tool for his team.

According to Williams, Tedford and his coaches have boiled down some of the book's key points and presented them -- via PowerPoint -- to the team. Maxwell offers 13 ways to maximize talent, everything from courage to teamwork.  "It talks about passion, belief, initiative, things like that," Williams said. "Things like that and how to apply it to our life. Because they feel, and we're starting to feel as well as players, if you better the man, the player will come with it."  It's clear that last year's stumble shook Tedford to the core. He had never been through anything like that as a head coach. Nothing he tried seemed to work. As the losses piled up, he became more and more frustrated.  Once the season ended, Tedford began analyzing his entire program, from top to bottom. He shook up his coaching staff, on both sides of the ball. He gave up his full-time play-calling duties and handed them to new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.  "This will free me up to do a little bit more with the team as a whole," Tedford said. That whole-team work has already begun.

"Coach Tedford's on us harder than he's ever been," Follett said. "He's reinforcing the 'Tedford Law' around here. When I first got here, I saw how it was. Then two years went by, and I saw how much lenience was being allowed.  "He kind of recognized that. That's the No. 1 change that he's been making. That's helping our team."  Follett said he welcomed the return of a tougher, more demanding Tedford. After what happened last season, it's not surprising that Tedford's players are receptive to anything that will help them avoid a repeat.  "We've been pushing them hard, but they've been pushing themselves, which is great to see," Tedford said. "There's a lot of motivation there. This is probably the best chemistry we've had on this team since we've been here. "I think it's' a combination of great leadership at the top combined with great young people who are very receptive to that leadership. With the workouts, they've been very impressive."  Especially on those cold, dark Friday mornings.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Fox Sports: Feeling Some Pressure in '08

Here is the link.

Q: Which players, coaches and programs will have the heat turned up?

While not necessarily on a hot seat, these players, coaches and programs will feel the pressure.


6. California

Down three with no timeouts and time running out, Cal was on the Oregon State 12-yard-line needing anything other than a sack or a running play to hit the chip-shot field goal to force overtime with all the momentum. Instead, rookie QB Kevin Riley tried to run the ball. He couldn't stop the clock and the 5-0 Bears lost to the Beavers, missed out on the No. 1 ranking, and went into the tank with one of the most stunning collapses in recent years by finishing the regular season with six losses in seven games. There were losses to bad Washington and Stanford teams, and the one win came by three at home over Washington State. There was a comeback win to beat Air Force 42-36 in something called the Armed Forces Bowl, but that game only showed how much explosion and potential the team actually had. While the program has been night-and-day better since Jeff Tedford took over, it hasn't gotten over the hump and always seems to disappoint just when it's time to be excited. The Pac 10 is improving, and Cal has to keep up.

Contra Costa Times: Cal postpones spring football for two weeks

By Jonathan Okanes

Cal has pushed back the beginning of spring football practice in an attempt to get as many healthy players on the field as possible.   Coach Jeff Tedford announced today that spring practice will commence on March 31 and last until April 26. The original plan had spring sessions beginning Monday and ending on April 19.  "Coach Tedford thought it would beneficial for the team to delay the start of spring practice," Cal spokesman John Sudsbury said. "It will give some players some time to recover from injuries so they can participate fully in spring ball."  The original practice plan had the Bears practicing just three times before March 31 anyway. They were going to practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week before taking 10 days off for spring break. Practice would have resumed on March 31.  The delay will allow players such as running back James Montgomery, defensive tackle Derrick Hill and wide receiver LaReylle Cunningham a better chance to get back to full strength for spring practice. Each player is recovering from minor knee surgery.

Tedford had expected Montgomery to be fully healed after spring break, meaning now he shouldn't be limited at all when practices begin. Earlier this week, Tedford said Hill would be limited during the spring and Cunningham may not participate at all.  The postponement also pushes back the beginning of the much-anticipated competition at quarterback between Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley. Longshore is a two-year returning starter but was inconsistent last season, while Riley replaced Longshore in the Armed Forces Bowl and led the Bears to a comeback victory. Tedford has said the position is up for grabs.

Pro Football Weekly: Rodgers needs to overcome a disturbing trend to find success


By Matt Sohn

The pressure is on for Aaron Rodgers. After three years of riding the pine, the Packers’ 2005 first-round draft pick will be front and under center in 2008. Finally, he gets his turn to write his own chapter to a quarterbacking legacy that began when he was still in elementary school. For his sake, I certainly hope it’s a chapter far different from what was written before him, because the quarterbacking legacy he’s continuing is not a proud one.   It’s a legacy of wasted talent and unfulfilled promise. A legacy marked by heads hanging low and a short supply of high-fiving. A legacy that proves the phrase “perpetual inconsistency” isn’t so oxymoronic.  I try to find silver linings in most situations, but when looking at the quarterbacking lineage Rodgers is coming from, it’s awfully difficult to find one. True, there’s one Super Bowl ring in the mix, but that was won mainly because of a dominating defense.  That ring aside, Trent Dilfer’s career is a study in mediocrity. But even that is more than the other representatives of this legacy can say. Akili Smith, the poster boy for the Bengals’ futility in the post-Boomer Esiason era, made just 22 NFL appearances before trudging up to the Canadian Football League. David Carr epitomized similar ineptitude in Houston and then, last year, was benched in Carolina in favor of 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde and undrafted rookie Matt Moore. While Moore’s not a member of this most tarnished fraternity, his predecessor in high school, Kyle Boller, is. Boller has 18 more turnovers than touchdowns during his five years in Baltimore, a stint that you know has been bad when the fans look back nostalgically on the Dilfer days. Joey Harrington has taken turns flopping in Detroit and Miami but was just re-signed by Atlanta, a surprise considering he’s coming off a seven-touchdown, eight-interception season. After seeing your $100 million man banished behind bars for slaying canines, I suppose an affable piano player is a suitable option, regardless of how badly he stinks up the field on Sundays.

But being the unwitting owners of forgettable NFL careers isn’t what links Dilfer, Smith, Carr, Boller and Harrington. What does link them is that all were first-round busts who honed their games under Jeff Tedford.  Just 46 years old, Tedford stands as one of college football’s most accomplished QB tutors. After serving as offensive coordinator at Fresno State (1993-97) and Oregon (1998-2001), he has spent the last six years raising California to national prominence as head coach. At all three stops, his success was largely based on making stars out of quarterbacks such as the aforementioned five — though it should be noted that he worked with Carr only during the quarterback’s first year at Fresno State.   But unlike other renowned college QB gurus, such as Norm Chow — who worked with Steve Young and Carson Palmer, among others — Tedford’s products have gone belly-up when they reached the pro game. But finding a reason why is a tough task. It’s not as if he runs a gimmicky, pass-happy offense like June Jones at Hawaii or Mike Leach at Texas Tech, a pair of offenses that produce gaudy numbers but don’t prepare quarterbacks to run the more balanced systems of the NFL. Since 2004, Tedford has seen RB J.J. Arrington rush for a 2,000-yard season and RB Marshawn Lynch get drafted in the first round. So, why have the passers flopped? More importantly, is there reason to believe Rodgers, the sixth first-round Tedford quarterback, will be different?

In Tedford’s eyes, he’s almost a victim of his own success.  “I think (my disappointing NFL QBs) get magnified because there are six (including Rodgers) of them that were first-round picks that I just happened to have coached,” Tedford said. “There’s just so many of them that have come from my system that they get lumped together. I wish somebody would do a study about first-round quarterbacks and how successful they are. I think there’s a lot of them who have ended up in the same boat. Think about the Heath Shulers of the world and the David Klinglers, the Andre Wares and the Tim Couches.” 

He raises a good point. In the absence of a tangible reason as to why Tedford’s quarterbacks haven’t fared well in the pros — and neither he nor I have found one — it’s fair to question whether five players is too small a sample size to draw a broad conclusion that future Tedford products will similarly fail. It probably is, although it does seem to be a pretty big coincidence.   When comparing Rodgers to the others, there are significant differences with the situations they were put in. Rodgers sat for three years behind Brett Favre, while the other five were thrust into the starting lineup in their rookie seasons, with Boller and Carr getting the nod in Week One.   Whether or not playing immediately hinders a quarterback’s development, or waiting helps him, I don’t know. There are examples supporting both claims.  However, I do think there’s one situational difference that bodes well for Rodgers: The Packers have talent. Lots of it. With the league’s youngest roster in 2007, they still came within a field goal of reaching the Super Bowl, and the key ingredients are coming back. The offense is particularly loaded, courtesy of a stout line, a punishing running back in Ryan Grant and a trio of quality receivers in Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones. None of the other Tedford quarterbacks had nearly the supporting cast that Rodgers will have.

Essentially, Rodgers doesn’t need to be spectacular, or force the issue, for the Pack to win. He needs to make sound decisions, which is something I’m confident he’ll be doing after seeing him execute one of the most memorable quarterbacking displays I’ve ever seen on Oct. 9, 2004.   Facing top-ranked USC at the L.A. Coliseum his final year at Cal, Rodgers played small ball up and down the field. The Trojans were sitting back in a soft zone, and Rodgers responded by firing quick, direct passes throughout the game, none of which exceeded 10-15 yards. He completed 23 straight passes to start the game. Was it the most breathtaking performance? Hardly. But it was memorable because of the incredible patience he showed, not once tempted to force the deep ball.   “He tucked it and ran it a couple times, and he hit guys on some plays that weren’t the intended target,” Tedford added. “Most of the time it was just him making the right read and being very accurate. He went into that game with a great deal of confidence and an understanding of what he was doing.”   Didn’t matter that Cal ultimately lost by six points. He made a believer out of me that day. But now he must do it in the NFL all over again, something his former coach is confident he’ll succeed in doing.  “Aaron is as well-rounded as any quarterback I’ve coached, as far as having poise, having intelligence, having arm strength and being efficient,” Tedford said.  Will Rodgers be the next Brett Favre? I highly doubt it. But I’d be even more surprised if he’s the next David Carr.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 Jeff Tedford Spring Practice Interview

See a video of the interview here.

BERKELEY - California Football Head coach Jeff Tedford met with the media on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium to discuss the upcoming spring practices, which begin on Monday, as well as team program's professional prospects who were working out Tuesday at Cal's Pro Timing Day.  On his change of duties [with hiring of offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti]:  "I'm still going to stay very involved with it. It's the play calling that I'm going to back out of. I feel great about what we're doing on offense. [Coach Frank] Cignetti's been a great addition to our staff and the way he's working together with the rest of the staff. Coach Michalczik has been great to keep him here because he had a great understanding of what's going on. I'm anxious to get into spring and see how it all works out. I'm going to back out of the play calling. I'll still be involved with the offense but I'm not going to call plays. [Cignetti] will call plays. I'll always have my mark or my eye on the offense to see what's going on. This is going to free me up to do a little bit more with the team as a whole.

On the players participating in Pro Day:

[Justin Forsett] has great work ethic, he's very tough, very smart, talented guy. As all these guys out here today are, they're a great group of young men. It's a bittersweet feeling out here today because you see all these guys working and you know they're not going to be with you anymore. I wish them all the best of luck in the future. No question about it. [DeSean Jackson] has gained some weight in the last couple months though, and I think he's in a position that he's going to be very competitive at the next level. Thomas [DeCoud], same way. Thomas does a great job of covering the field, he's a physical guy. I think he's going to do well in the NFL. I think [Forsett's] run faster out here before. I don't know how accurate those times are or what have you. But I do know that he's a very good football player and when they put the pads on, he'll do a real nice job.

On spring practice:

Not a lot of questions, more real anxious to see some of the young guys and how they fit into our program. At all positions, it's going to be very competitive throughout the spring and we have a lot of young guys, it's going to be their first go around and so we're anxious to see how they fit in.

On the quarterback position:

Well, it's going to be competitive, just like all the positions right now. It's very competitive at the quarterback position. They're both [Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley] team players and they want us to win and they're training real hard. I think competition makes everyone their best so it's great to have competition at that position. Nate will take the first snaps and we'll take it from there. And Brock Mansion as well is in the mix. We're anxious to see all those guys to see what they can do. Anytime you play as much as Nate has, there's always an advantage in the experience factor. Kevin gained a little bit of experience last year, but Nate still definitely has the advantage in the experience category.

On what he looks for in a quarterback:

Just running the offense, being smart with the football, putting us in a position to move the football and score on offense. There's a lot of more to it than just throwing the football. The mental part of the game at that position is critical. So you're asking them to do a lot. Whoever puts us in the best position to win, that's what we're looking for. We won't announce the starter until probably the week of the first game.

On the defense:

[We'll get a look at] some of the younger guys sitting in the program. We have some good young defensive linemen that we're going to get a chance to evaluate and get them plugged in with the experience of some guys like Derrick Hill, like Rulon [Davis], Tyson's [Alualu] back. They'll get some experience on the d-line. We're going to have more depth because of the younger guys providing that depth. With last year, we were very limited as far as our depth was concerned because a lot of those guys were redshirted. Our line backing corps, I think we're very deep at linebacker. I think we have some experience at linebacker plus we have some good young guys there as well. We have a lot of depth at linebacker. The secondary, we have Syd [cornerback Syd'Quan Thmpson] and [cornerback Chris] Conte coming back. Conte played as true freshman so that experience should help him. [Bernard] Hicks is back at safety. We have Marcus Ezeff who's back. There's some experience back there. The Darian Hagens, the Charles Amadis, all those guys will fill in as well and compete. That's how the defense is looking.

On the wide receivers:

There's no question, we lost a lot of experience; all three of our wide receivers are gone. We feel like we have some talented guys there. [Redshirt freshman] Michael Calvin, [Sophomore] Jeremy Ross, it's those guys' turn to step up. Then Nyan [Boateng] would be a guy as well. I don't think that there's any doubt that we're going to need to have the young guys, the freshmen coming in, contribute. I don't know which one but which ever one steps up, we're going to have to have those guys contribute as well. LaReylle [Cunningham] may not practice in the spring. He had a knee scope so he may not practice. He won't practice for sure on the first week.

On redshirt freshman quarterback Brock Mansion:

He's made big-time progress. He's a gifted guy, big tall, strong guy who can really run. He throws the ball really well, is smart. We're really anxious to see him in the competition as well. Obviously he doesn't have the experience those other guys have but he's very gifted athletically. It'll be nice to see him get some real action in the spring time. I think he'll push them. I don't know that he has the experience level, but I think he's going to provide some competition there because of the abilities he has physically. As he gets better and better with the mental part of the game, and the more experience and the more reps he gets, he'll definitely be in the mix.

On the off-season:

We've been pushing hard but they've been pushing themselves, which is the great thing to see. There's a lot of motivation there. This is probably the best chemistry we've had on this team since we've been here. I think it's a combination of great leadership at the top combined with great young people who are very receptive to that leadership and are working very hard. They're all doing very, very well. With the workouts, they've been very impressive. Now it's time to cut it loose in the spring and see what they do.

On if they've made improvements:

We're spending more time off the field talking about things, going over some things. We're having full team meetings to be able to go over some things and talk and get some things out there. That's been good. I think the team's been very receptive to those types of things and I think they're getting a lot out of it.

On the new coaches getting to know the players:

We're kind of doing that through our meetings in the off-season. I think when you get out here, the styles - for the new coaches to learn the players. They know [the players] but to actually learn them and the work-ethic and the things that go on on the field, is something different. There's no doubt that that will happen. [Cignetti] is doing a great job. Him combined with the rest of the offensive staff is working very hard. He's got a lot of enthusiasm He's a very smart, enthusiastic guy who has a great feel for the game. He's brought some new ideas. That's what spring is for, for us to kind of put together those ideas and come up with a complete package. He's open-minded, he's a great communicator with the kids and he's got a lot of enthusiasm.

On spring practice schedule:

Typically, we go two [weeks] and then take a week off and then go two more. It just felt like it was too soon [this year]. We needed some more time still. We'll get three practices done [before spring break]. We'll get a foundation laid really. Then when we get back [from spring break] it will be more of the padded stuff and we'll really get into it. It'll give us a foundation early just to get everybody on the same page organizationally with practice. [We're looking to see] if they have a real good feel for the offense, if they're running the offense sufficiently and that type of thing. I don't look at coming out of spring practice as trying to name anybody. That's not my goal. My goal is just to evaluate the whole team and get our young guys into the mix and see how they fit in.

Sacramento Bee: Rice expresses faith in Cal's Jackson

By Jason Jones

BERKELEY – Jerry Rice's size wasn't an issue when he entered the NFL draft out of Mississippi Valley State in 1985. Scouts wanted to know if Rice could run from defenders.  "I had football speed," said Rice, the former 49ers great who later starred with the Raiders. "And there's just something about people when they were chasing me, I was just able to run away from people. The hair would stand up on my back, and I was able to get away because I knew they wanted to hurt me." Running away isn't a problem for Rice's protégé, former Cal standout DeSean Jackson. Butsome wonder if the 5-foot-10, 169-pound Jackson is big enough for the NFL, even though he's projected as a first-round selection in next month's draft.  Rice isn't among the doubters, likening Jackson to the Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith, a diminutive wide receiver who is a three-time All-Pro.

Read the entire article here.

Contra Costa Times: Cal's Jordan opens some scouts' eyes

Ex-Bears receiver runs fast 40-yard dash

By Jonathan Okanes

BERKELEY — Robert Jordan has spent much of the past year existing in the shadow of fellow Cal receivers DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins. Tuesday was Jordan's turn to garner some of the attention.

Jordan, a former Hayward High star, arguably helped himself more than any other Cal prospect at the school's annual NFL pro timing day at Memorial Stadium. Jordan ran an unoffical time of 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash and by all accounts made a positive impression on the large contingent of NFL scouts on hand.   "Hopefully, I was able to open some eyes today," said Jordan, who said some scouts had him clocked in the high-4.3s. "I just hope I was able to show that I can do what DeSean and Lavelle can do. Hopefully, I turned some heads today and showed that I can do what everybody else can do, and even more."  Jordan was a steady receiver last season while Jackson and Hawkins attracted most of the attention. Jordan was left out again when he wasn't invited to participate in last month's NFL scouting combine, while his more high-profile teammates were.  It left Jordan putting a lot of stock in Tuesday's performance. He's likely a borderline candidate to be drafted but may have substantially helped his cause with his 40 time. He also helped defuse some questions about his size, weighing in at 174 pounds after finishing the season at 162.

Read the entire article here.

Season Tickets

Season tickets go on sale tomorrow morning.  Click here for more information.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Oakland Tribune: New Tree Sitter on UC Berkeley Campus

Police barricade oak tree, won't allow supplies

By Kristin Bender

The 15-month Berkeley tree sit has branched out to another area on campus with a guy who calls himself Fresh sitting in a lone oak just north of Sather Gate to protest various university policies.  This new tree sit is linked to the long-term tree sit to the west of California Memorial Stadium.   But it likely won't last long. Police have put metal barricades around the lone oak and aren't allowing Fresh to receive food, water or other supplies in the tree.  "We don't want him to get anything that is going to enable him to stay longer," said University of California, Berkeley, Assistant Police Chief Mitch Celaya. "We, for the most part, have the tree contained. Without any provisions being brought up to him, he will need to come down, or want to come down."  Police are also stationed at the tree, Celaya said.

Since December 2006, a group of people have been living in trees near the football stadium to protest UC Berkeley's plan to raze trees to build a $125 million sports training center at the grove.  Eight to 10 people continue to live and sleep in those trees, a tree-sit spokesman said Thursday. A court injunction is preventing any construction on the grove site. Plans are tied up by lawsuits, which will continue to be heard in a Hayward court today.  On Thursday, Fresh said he wants to save the oaks but is also protesting the university's deals with BP and Dow Chemical, the housing of Indian remains on campus and Cal's involvement with nuclear weapons.

Read the rest of the story here.


Note from Blogger:


Per their website at, the “California Oak Foundation (COF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization committed to preserving the state's oak forest ecosystem and its rural landscapes”  that “relies on memberships and donations to continue its work.”   What they actually do is fund meritless lawsuits.  Please do not support them.  Give to an actual charity instead.

Contra Costa Times: Berkeley Stadium Standstill

By Kristin Bender

They wear bandannas on their faces and rarely speak from the tree perches where some have lived for more than a year.  The public doesn't know their names because they use pseudonyms, such as Otter and Chewing Gum, to protect their identities from police and UC Berkeley officials. But almost everyone from Bolinas to Bakersfield and from Alameda to Atherton knows about the tree sitters of Berkeley -- a handful of non-students who live and sleep on suspended wooden platforms in the trees they are trying to save from being razed to make room for a $125 million sports training center for the Cal Golden Bears football team and 12 other teams.  The tree sit may be the public face of the 15-month controversy over the training center plans, but opponents of the plan -- which include the city of Berkeley, an environmental foundation and a neighborhood association -- say larger issues are at stake if the university moves forward.

Those issues include the wisdom of building a new complex on an earthquake fault that scientists say is overdue for a major temblor, the livability of the neighborhood and increased traffic congestion.  "While the trees are important to a lot of people, they are not the reason the city filed a suit in this case," said Zach Cowan, acting city attorney. "The city has been primarily focused on public safety and emergency response and to have a planning process by the campus that was rational."  The city of Berkeley is one of four  entities that sued the university to stop the training center project. Three of the four lawsuits were consolidated and testimony in the cases continues today in a Hayward courtroom.

The plaintiffs come from diverse backgrounds -- the California Oak Foundation, the Panoramic Hill Association and a group called Save Tightwad Hill all sued.   But the lawsuits follow similar themes: The university did not do the appropriate environmental studies or adequately consider alternatives to the grove site where the training center is to be built.  The university also wants to renovate Memorial Stadium in later stages of the project, but money for that has not been secured.   The plaintiffs contend that the training center will be unsafe because it will be attached to the seismically unsound stadium. Neighbors fear noise, traffic snarls and additional fan craziness with added stadium events. The Tightwad Hill group doesn't want to lose its free view of games from a grassy knoll.

"Folks are worried about the noise and traffic," said Jerry Wachtel, president of the Panoramic Hill Association.  "The roads are narrow and choked. During a football game, you either stay home and don't leave, or you leave in the morning and you don't come home until late at night."  He said residents worry the university will hold more events at the renovated stadium, thus adding even more traffic and noise to the neighborhood.  Building the sports training project has been held up for more than a year by a court injunction that bans any changes to the construction site. And university officials say the project is now more than $6 million over budget because of the delay. 

Trial resumes

What will happen next in the closely watched saga will take a step forward today as Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller considers expert testimony as to why the planned training center should be considered a "separate structure" from the seismically unsound Memorial Stadium, which straddles the Hayward fault.  "From the very beginning, the campus knew it needed to build a separate structure," because anything less would have been seismically unsafe, university spokesman Dan Mogulof has said. "That was the task assigned to our architect, and that is exactly what they delivered," Mogulof said. "We are confident that engineering experts will confirm that the student athlete high-performance center is in no way, shape or form an addition or alteration to California Memorial Stadium."  This is the first time Miller has considered the case in court in about five months. A trial for three of the four lawsuits -- not including Save Tightwad Hill -- was held in the Hayward Hall of Justice in October and a decision was expected in January. But in a surprise move in December, Miller issued preliminary findings that rejected UC Berkeley's claim that a law called the Alquist-Priolo earthquake zoning act does not apply to its plan to build the student-athlete center near the stadium.   For safety reasons, the 1972 act prohibits "alterations or additions" to existing structures to be built on earthquake faults where the cost of the alteration or addition exceeds 50 percent of the value of the existing structure.  That order says the university "never considered" whether the training center was an alteration or an addition to the stadium for purposes of compliance with the act, or whether the cost to construct the center might violate the act because it is more than 50 percent of the value of the stadium.

Stephen Volker, an attorney for the California Oak Foundation, said plaintiffs are confident that further evidence that will be presented in court will show that the student-athlete high-performance center is both an alteration of and an addition to California Memorial Stadium. It's not clear how long oral arguments, which begin at 1 p.m. today in Hayward, will continue.  

Antiquated facilities

While opponents have found a number of reasons to criticize the project, UC Berkeley officials say they desperately need a centrally located, state-of-the-art sports training center, with enough space for locker facilities, weight training, sports rehabilitation and medicine for the university's more than 300 athletes.  "At the end of the day, it's to address modern-day athletic needs, which today (the stadium) just can't serve," said UC Berkeley attorney Mike Goldstein in a recent speech at the Berkeley City Club.  Athletes agree.  "We have the smallest amount of space between all the Pac-10 (Conference) schools and yet we are producing championships. I would think we could do so much more with more space and better facilities," said Cal volleyball player Kat Reilly, who is also president of the campus Student Athlete Advisory Council.

Read the entire article here, and don’t forget to leave comments on the coco-site!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

CBS News: A Few Nuggets to Get the Spring Wheels Rolling

Here is the link.  Note that Cal is not in their pre-spring top 25.


Offensive minds what to know

Notre Dame's Charlie Weis isn't the only mastermind to give up play-calling.  In shaking up the staff, Cal's Jeff Tedford hired Frank Cignetti from the 49ers (where he was quarterbacks coach) and handed him the offensive playbook. Cignetti has quite a challenge. The Bears dropped from 12th to 50th in total offense and are losing several playmakers.  Something had to be done. Cal started 5-0 and was ranked No. 2 before losing six of its last seven. Cignetti brings 19 years of college and NFL experience.  Tedford and Weis are still considered two of the top offensive minds in the game. But after coaching their teams to combined 10-15 records, both coaches admitted they needed to spend more time on the defensive side of the ball.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

ESPN: Rodgers says he's ready to lead Packers


They had been teammates for a full year before Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers started talking the same language.  It was sometime in minicamp or training camp of 2006 when Favre reached out to the man he knew would someday replace him as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.   "That's when Brett came to me and he really encouraged me in a couple areas where I could improve my mental toughness and the way I would deal with adversity,'' Rodgers said Wednesday by telephone from California. "He told me it was important to think about body language and attitude all the time because everybody's watching you at all times.''     That's even truer now than it was then. With Favre's retirement Tuesday, Rodgers suddenly is the king of the cheeseheads. His every move will be scrutinized by just about everyone in Wisconsin. Come September, he'll become the first player to start at quarterback for Green Bay since Favre took over in 1992.

"You can't replace a legend and I know that going in,'' Rodgers said. "All I can do is try to be the best quarterback I can be. I'm not going to let anyone outwork me and I'm going to be accountable to my coaches and teammates. I know it's a challenge, but I've got a good team around me and I had three years to learn from Brett, who is the greatest quarterback ever.''   But Rodgers said he and Favre weren't always so close. Drafted in the first round (24th overall) in 2005, Rodgers said he felt tension early on.    "Obviously, when a team drafts a quarterback in the first round, that's a pretty big statement,'' Rodgers said. "At that time, Brett felt like he still had plenty left in his tank and those are some pretty difficult terms to come in under. That first year, we were just teammates.''   But the relationship began thawing in 2006, after Favre flirted with retirement. With Favre at home in Mississippi for a good chunk of the offseason, Rodgers got most of the first-team work as the Packers installed a new system with new coach Mike McCarthy. When Favre returned for minicamp, Rodgers helped translate the new offense.  A bond started forming and the talks grew longer and more in-depth.    "We went from being just teammates that first year to being pretty close friends,'' Rodgers said. "As we got to know each other and he saw my work ethic, a level of trust developed. It got to a point where Brett didn't mind me being his little shadow and that was pretty amazing for me because I grew up watching and admiring Brett Favre.''

Shadowing Favre was about all Rodgers could do for his first three NFL seasons. He's attempted only 59 career passes and thrown for just one touchdown. His most extensive playing time came last season after Favre was injured in a prime-time game at Dallas. Although the Packers lost, Rodgers played well, completing 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown.   There's been no formal passing of the torch, but it's been assumed for three years that Rodgers would ascend to the throne when Favre retired. McCarthy called Rodgers on Tuesday, but the conversation was brief.   "It was basically, 'Here's the news and we'll see you on March 17,'" Rodgers said.   March 17 is when the Packers begin offseason workouts for quarterbacks and new players. The real transition starts two weeks later when the rest of the squad begins workouts. But Rodgers is calm about the situation.   When news of Favre's retirement first broke Tuesday, it was about 6:30 a.m. in California. Rodgers was sleeping when his cell phone started ringing.   "After about the eighth call, I knew there was either an emergency or Brett had retired,'' Rodgers said. "I got up and checked the messages and then I went back to bed.''  Did sleep come easily because the moment Rodgers had been waiting for finally arrived?

"No, I was just tired,'' Rodgers said.    But the slumber of the offseason will end in less than two weeks and Rodgers is ready to get to work and take on his new role. The 24-year-old said he believes sitting for three years might have been the perfect preparation for what he faces.   "It was tough at times, not getting to really play for three years, but I look at that as a positive,'' Rodgers said. "I was allowed to come along at my own pace without the weight of a franchise on me because Brett had that. I think that will go a long way toward my development. But, on the flip side now, I've been in the league for three years, so there's no grace period now. I've got to go out there and be consistent and accountable to my coaches and my teammates.''

The expectations from fans, naturally, will be high and Rodgers knows he can't be exactly like Favre. He won't even try to do that, but he will carry some of the lessons he learned from his mentor.  "I think the greatest thing I learned from Brett was just watching him in practice,'' Rodgers said. "There would be days late in the season where he'd be dragging in the locker room and didn't really want to go out to practice. But, we'd get out there and the whistle would blow and he'd be going 100 miles an hour and be full of energy and enthusiasm because that's what the job demands. I got a firsthand look at what greatness is all about. Now, I've got to take advantage of that.''



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Fox Sports: Top Twenty Quarterback Battles Entering Spring Practice

Here is the link.


4. Cal

The quarterback situation in Berkeley officially became delicious when backup Kevin Riley rallied the Bears from behind in the Armed Forces Bowl, running for a score and going 16-of-19 for 269 yards and three touchdowns through the air. What he lacks in experience, the sophomore makes up for with mobility and a penchant for making something out of nothing, which can't be said about the lumbering Nate Longshore. Longshore has been inconsistent as a two-year starter, struggling with injuries and bad reads, while throwing 16 picks to just 11 touchdowns in eight Cal losses. His grip on the starting job has begun to slip.

 The Pre-Spring Best Guess Starter Will Be ... Kevin Riley

Sunday, March 02, 2008

SportingNews: Schools Keep Head Coaches, Still Make Big Changes

Here is the link.


Cal-related quote: Frank Cignetti, Cal offensive coordinator. For Jeff Tedford to trust Cignetti enough to hand him calling duties speaks volumes. Cignetti is a sharp mind who has trained in the NFL. And he has subtle schemes dipped in sophistication.