Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arizona Republic: Cal Seeking Consistency

Consistency escaped California during 2007. Following the season, so did plenty of its players.  The Golden Bears opened the year with a win over Tennessee and capped their second 5-0 start in three years with a win against Oregon in the bellows of Autzen Stadium.   But that would be the peak for California, who would spiral from No. 2 in the country to playing in the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force. The Golden Bears lost six of their final seven regular season games, which included defeats by Stanford and Washington - the Pac-10's worst two teams.

Not around for cleanup in 2008 is a pack of the Golden Bears' key players. Running back Justin Forsett graduated after a 1,500-yard season in which he scored 15 touchdowns. Tight end Craig Stevens was a third-round selection in the NFL draft, landing with the Tennessee Titans, as was safety Thomas DeCoud, who was picked by the Atlanta Falcons.  Leading the exodus at wide receiver was DeSean Jackson, who opted to turn pro early, and with the exit of fellow wide outs Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan, leaves junior tight end Cameron Morrah and his 14 career receptions as California's most experience receiver.

Possibly providing the only firepower for the Golden Bears' offense is sophomore Jahvid Best. As a true freshman, the running back totaled 221 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and was named First-team All-Pac-10 for his special teams play. Best missed California's final three games in 2007 and all of spring practice because of a hip injury, but coach Jeff Tedford said Best is 100 percent healthy entering the fall. Adding good depth to the position is sophomore Tracy Slocum and redshirt freshman Shane Vereen.

Alas, California can also be added to the list of Pac-10 teams undecided on who is going to be under center at the start of the season.  Senior Nate Longshore was the incumbent but an ankle injury last year left the door open for sophomore Kevin Riley to see action, and Tedford has said the competition could last up until to the Golden Bears' season opener against Michigan State.

SF Chronicle: QB issues pervasive in preseason



Stanford, Cal and San Jose State quarterback competitions: Stanford should have a starting quarterback within a week, which makes the first few days of competition between Tavita Pritchard and Alex Loukas critical.

It might not be as intense at Cal because Jeff Tedford expects to play both Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley in the first few games. There is a distinct difference between the two: Longshore is more likely to go through all his reads, maybe looking at three or four possible receivers, before giving up on a play. Riley is more apt to look only at his primary receiver and perhaps a secondary receiver before taking off running.

Cal started the 2003 season with Reggie Robertson and Aaron Rodgers sharing the quarterback duties, and Rodgers did not get his first start until the fifth game. The Bears finished 8-6 and won five of their final six games.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trojan Football Analysis: Cal Has Top Rushing Unit in Pac-10 Over Past Six Years

Here’s the link.



Normally when Cal Bears head coach Jeff Tedford's name is mentioned in the national press it is done in conjunction with the passing game and the impressive number of successful QB's he has developed at the college level. Trent Dilfer, Billy Volek, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, and Aaron Rodgers are among his QB's that have gone onto the NFL as early draft picks. True the QB's have not produced much in the NFL as of yet but Coach Tedford and staff have certainly maximized their talents in the collegiate ranks.


Rarely however do I hear the name of Tedford or his staff mentioned in conjunction with their rushing attack in the national news media. Usually the comments center around the QB's and the Cal passing game or some vague comment about Tedford's noted "play calling" ability. Oddly the more credited Cal passing attack is only ranked 7th in the Pac-10 over the same stretch of time averaging around 237 yards per game while the rush attack has ranked consistently near the top position.


What makes the Cal Bears rush attack so successful? Tight Ends Coach Pete Alamar outlined several success factors in a presentation given some time ago to high school coaches. Here are just some of the reasons mentioned.


The Cal rush attack uses angle blocking and power run schemes highly effectively. The coaches believe this provides the best leverage and set of angles for linemen to attack the defense. There is not need to "out athlete" the defender. The blocking scheme makes it easier for technically sound yet not as athletic players to find success.


Also advantageous is the fact that the blocking rules carry over to multiple series of plays. The personnel, formation, and alignment may change however the blocking rules stay fairly constant. This allows for more repetition in practice which helps foster both technique and confidence.


In 2006 Cal went somewhat away from their power game and tried more spread formation sets with new offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar from Northwestern University. The experiment had mixed results and 2007 Cal went back to more 2 back style formations and 2 tight sets in 2007. Mike Dunbar moved onto a new coaching position with the University of Minnesota back in the Big 10 conference.


On the Cal power run plays overall the Bears reportedly averaged an impressive 9 yards per carry over a two season period from 2004-2005. The effectiveness of the play tailed off somewhat the past two years but I still suspect it still probably averaged over 6 yards per carry. Stopping this type of run play is key for any opponent that faces the Cal Bears.

ESPN: Pac-10's Most Potent and Consistent Ground Attack is Cal

By's Ted Miller


“Got this link from the LA Times USC blog... it's a list of the Pac-10's rushing totals over the past six years compiled by the Web site "Trojan Football Analysis", which brings a bit of sabermetric, X's and O's analysis to USC commentary.  Click the link. I'll wait here.  Back?

Are you surprised that the California came out on top, averaging 182.8 yards per game since 2002 (the year Jeff Tedford was hired), ahead of USC (176.8) and Oregon (167.4)?  It didn't blow me out of the water but I would have guessed USC.  Also interesting: I certainly wouldn't have thought Oregon State would rank eighth (128.3), behind pass-happy Arizona State (129.5). What does Cal do? According to the article:

The Cal rush attack uses angle blocking and power run schemes highly effectively. The coaches believe this provides the best leverage and set of angles for linemen to attack the defense. There is not need to "out athlete" the defender. The blocking scheme makes it easier for technically sound yet not as athletic players to find success.

Also advantageous is the fact that the blocking rules carry over to multiple series of plays. The personnel, formation, and alignment may change however the blocking rules stay fairly constant. This allows for more repetition in practice which helps foster both technique and confidence.  It's also worth noting that Cal doesn't allow many sacks either: They've led the Pac-10 in fewest sacks allowed the past two seasons (11 in 2007 and 13 in 2006).  Tomorrow, I plan to write about hot Pac-10 coordinators, and I'm going to add Jim Michalczik to the list. His title with the Bears is "assistant head coach/offensive line/co-offensive coordinator". That mouthful translates to this: Jeff Tedford knows he's got a good coach.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Former DVC lineman Cal-bound

After orally committing in late June to attend UCLA, former Pinole Valley High School and Diablo Valley College offensive lineman Donovan Edwards has de-committed and instead accepted a scholarship offer to play at Cal for the upcoming season.

"Last week Cal called me and let me know they had a scholarship to offer me," said Edwards, who visited the Berkeley campus last weekend. "The visit changed my perception about Cal, and I wanted to become a Bear after that."  Edwards (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) said both coach Jeff Tedford and offensive line coach Jim Michalczik have told him that he'll be given the opportunity to compete for playing time at left tackle. Edwards said he is already on campus and will report for training camp with the rest of the team Sunday.


SF Chronicle: Quarterbacks grow on Farm, receivers buzzing in Berkeley



New look, new attitude: Maybe as jarring as the gold stripe down the middle of the new Cal helmets, will be the lack of names on the back of the newly designed jerseys. Coach Jeff Tedford removed the names before last season's Armed Forces Bowl as a tribute to the military, and he admitted Monday that the tribute will continue this season because it was a twofold statement.  As part of a last year's late-season freefall - losing six of seven games after being No. 2 in the nation - Cal looked uninspired in losses to clearly less-talented Washington and Stanford teams.

"After the way Washington and Stanford happened, it was evident that we all needed to come together and look at accountability issues," Tedford said. "That's what we did. It was taking identity off of individuals and putting it back on the team."

Rookie receivers: Tedford said as many as three true freshmen wideouts could get significant playing time in an effort to replace the threesome lost to the NFL. He said Marvin Jones, Jarrett Sparks and/or Charles Satchell could play right away.  Verran Tucker, considered the No. 57 junior college prospect in the nation by, also could join that list. The former El Camino Community College receiver is in summer school, and Tedford expects to know soon whether Tucker has enough qualifying credits to enroll.  The returning receiving corps has combined for a total of 12 Divison I-A catches, with LaReylle Cunningham providing 10 and transfer Nyan Boateng adding two from his freshman season at Florida.


SF Examiner: With renewed vigor, Cal out for redemption


Glenn Dickey

If the Cal Bears bounce back big this season, it will be because of the seeds that were sown in the four weeks before their win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl in December.  A 2007 season which had begun so gloriously at 5-0 disintegrated with six losses in the next seven games, including a dispirited showing in the Big Game.  As he admitted at a media news conference for Bay Area college teams in The City on Monday, coach Jeff Tedford had lost touch with his team.  “I was so involved with game preparations that I didn’t realize what was happening,” he said.

The media/fan speculation was that the team was torn apart by Tedford’s loyalty to quarterback Nate Longshore, who was playing despite what was originally thought to be an ankle sprain, but was actually a small bone fracture. Tedford insists that no player ever mentioned Longshore.   Still, he showed the team videos of some of their losses, demonstrating that there was plenty of blame to go around.   “It’s easy to blame the quarterback,” he said, “but when we lost to Washington, they got 360 rushing yards. That’s not the quarterback’s fault.”  He stressed accountability for all of his players and, for the bowl game, it worked. Air Force was ahead 21-0 after the first 20 minutes — teams often struggle early against the unorthodox offensive and defensive schemes of the Falcons — but the Bears came roaring back for a 42-36 win.

“That wasn’t easy and it showed the character of the team,” said Tedford.   This year, Tedford has changed his approach, hiring Frank Cignetti as his offensive coordinator to call the plays. “I’ll be able to talk to all the players,” Tedford said. “It will be the same in practice. I’ll still concentrate on offense, but I’ll be talking to defensive players, too.”  He continued to stress accountability for all players during the spring drills, and he thought that worked well.  “We had a very good spring,” he said. “The players really responded.”  One of the big problems during last year’s slide was the lack of player leaders. The most vocal players were ones who weren’t big playmakers, so nobody followed them. Conversely, the best players were quiet.

So, Tedford has made an effort this spring to get top players to also step up as leaders. On Monday, he identified three who have responded: Center Alex Mack and linebackers Zack Follett and Worrell Williams.

Although Tedford had a disappointing recruiting year, a direct result of the team’s slide, there is still talent on this team. Though the focus will again be on the quarterbacks, running back Jahvid Best, a Salesian High grad, could be the Bears’ best offensive player. Best is very fast and was a big playmaker in a limited role as a freshman last year. When he was hurt, Tedford shut him down; he didn’t play in the bowl game. He’s totally recovered now and Tedford said, “I’m really excited about what he can do as an every down back.”

And, when Best isn’t in there, Shane Vereen will be, and he’s a special talent, too.  But talent alone doesn’t win without the right attitude. Both Tedford and his team learned that the hard way last year. This year, that lesson should help the Bears bounce back.


San Jose Mercury: It's College Football Season Already?



The 2007 season had its share of highlights on the local front. Stanford stunned USC and beat Cal for the first time in six years. Cal won a thriller at Oregon and was on the verge of being No. 1 in the nation. San Jose State pushed undefeated Hawaii to the brink and beyond. But on the whole, it was a forgettable season. The schools  combined to finish 16-21 with one bowl appearance. (Cal beat Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.)

• Picking a starting quarterback.

For the first time in at least 30 years, quarterback competitions are raging concurrently at the three schools.

Don't bet on anything being resolved before the season openers. (Cal Coach Jeff Tedford hinted Monday that he might use Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley throughout the season.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

2008 Fan Appreciation Day: August 23, 2008

The following is from the San Jose Mercury:


Cal football capsule

By Jon Wilner

Camp starts: Monday

Location: Memorial Stadium

Public workouts: Aug 23 (fan appreciation day)

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Michigan State

2007 recap: The Bears beat Tennessee in the season opener, won a thriller at Oregon and rose to No. 2 in the nation. Then they dropped six of seven, starting with a last-second home loss to Oregon State. Cal rallied from a three-touchdown deficit to defeat Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.

2008 outlook: The Bears were picked fourth in the Pac-10 media poll. They return nine starters on defense, have an All-America center (Alex Mack) and a favorable conference schedule. If the young receivers develop and the quarterbacks are solid, Cal could win eight or nine games. If the passing game struggles, the Bears could post the first losing season of the Jeff Tedford era.

Quarterback competition: Senior Nate Longshore and sophomore Kevin Riley will compete for the starting job. Longshore, a two-year starter, is a pocket passer with limited mobility. Riley is mobile and dynamic but has only one career start. Don't expect Tedford to pick a starter until the week of the season opener. 

It will be a successful training camp if ... Tailback Jahvid Best returns to his pre-injury form. The defense assimilates the new 3-4 alignment, which was installed during spring practice. Florida transfer Nyan Boateng emerges as a go-to receiver. Safety Marcus Ezeff makes the Bears forget Thomas DeCoud. Oft-injured defensive end Rulon Davis stays healthy.

Keep an eye on ... Tackle Derrick Hill, a 300-pound sophomore who could anchor the Bears' run defense. Tight end Cameron Morrah, who had 13 catches in '07 playing behind Craig Stevens. Receiver Michael Calvin, a former prep All-American who redshirted last season.

San Mateo Times: Tedford to get back in touch


JEFF TEDFORD'S honeymoon at Cal, fabulous and richly deserved, is history. Done. As kaput as Ben Braun's campus presence, Bill Clinton's budget surplus and Akili Smith's NFL career.  What sets Tedford apart, though, is that he can have another.  The first concluded with a thud. We'll refer to it as the Great Collapse.

Tedford and his Golden Bears entered last October at 5-0, ranked second in the country. The No. 1 ranking beckoned and the possibility intoxicated alumni and fans.  Literally moments away from No. 1, Cal responded with a three-game losing streak. The Bears fell from prominence, kept falling and fell further. They lost six of seven, finished the regular season at 6-6 and staggered into something called the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl.

No high-profile Bay Area team in recent memory had a swifter, more stunning and precipitous in-season decline.  Tedford, for most of our lifetimes the most successful football coach at Cal, was shaken to the core of his beliefs. He picked his brain, searched his soul and, eventually, acknowledged he had lost touch with his team.  So there he was Monday, seated at a round table, in a hotel meeting room, surrounded by folks wanting to know what the hell happened, what he had learned, when did he learn it and, naturally, how will he proceed.  "I'm just going to keep my fingers on the pulse of it a little bit better," he said at the annual preseason luncheon for the Bay Area's three Division I football teams.

A revealing admittance indeed. Priority 1-A for a head coach is to acquire talent. Priority 1-B is to win, by any legal means. Priority 2 is to create camaraderie, which begets trust, out of which can come a mighty bond.  Priorities 1-A and B don't mean jack unless accompanied by Priority 2.  Tedford realizes this and he still was victimized. He didn't grasp the magnitude of his team's poor chemistry until his ears were scorched during postseason exit interviews.  "I didn't do a good enough job as head coach of identifying that and addressing it," he conceded.  "Was it something that just hits you over the head? No. It wasn't. It wasn't so evident to me on a day to day basis."

Tedford got caught up. That's his story. And it's reasonable. He enjoys offense, gravitates toward the details of watching film and planning strategy and calling plays. And he's good at these things. That's why he was a good coordinator at Fresno State and a better one at Oregon.  Though this led to Tedford being interviewed for the Cal position when Tom Holmoe was fired after the 2001 season, it's not why he was hired.  Tedford was hired to manage the football program. In its entirety.  That he veered off course last season cost his team an opportunity to become one of the 10 best in school history. It shortened the lengthy rope he had earned by winning 43 of his first 63 games in Berkeley.   Understand, this is not to jump Tedford. Or stamp the Great Collapse in scarlet letters across his receding hairline.

This is to say, instead, that Tedford failed because his compulsions led him astray. While brushfires were on all sides of his house, Tedford was inside, doors closed, drawing up plays.  "We practiced hard, things like that," he recalled. "But when you get into a game situation and you get some adversity and you need to reach deep, that's when some of those things really become a factor. It wasn't so much a day-to-day thing, where guys weren't talking to each other and weren't practicing hard or were arguing with each other. It wasn't that. It was just the togetherness you have to have in tight games (was missing).

"I didn't realize it because my head was buried more into game-planning and plays."  Tedford's reaction? He hired offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, who has focused on offense for 18 of his 19 seasons as an assistant coach.  We have no idea how good Cignetti will be, but it's his job to mine production from a talented offense.  Tedford has a new job. Same as the old job. Head coach. If he wins big, he'll redeem himself.  That second honeymoon is, oh, 10 wins away.

ESPN: Most Intriguing Position Battles



5. Cal QB: Nate Longshore has been the QB in Berkeley it seems forever. We all know that he has a strong arm and a good grasp of the offense to go with his very limited mobility, but his confidence supposedly was really shaken. Can he ever get that back? Kevin Riley brings more speed and more of a spark to the offense and that showed in the Bears bowl win last winter. The issue around Riley is how consistent can he be?

In-depth Analsyis of Nate Longshore has an in-depth analysis of Nate Longshore, which can be seen here.  According to the author, he “re-watched every one of Nate's televised games; every snap, every possession since SacState05 to AirForce07, over the course of two weeks. I used official NCAA stats to compile how he performed during *every* offensive possession.”  The post got picked up by ESPN here.

Daily Cal: Petitioners' Appeals to Athletic Center Ruling Will Face Challenges in Overturning Judge's Decision

By Jacqueline Johnston

Though two of the parties involved in the lawsuits over construction of a student athletic center near UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium filed appeals of a judge's ruling last week, they face an uphill battle in overturning the decision.  If the appealing petitioners, which include Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation, are to succeed in preventing the center from ever being built at the current prospective site of an oak grove near Memorial Stadium, they will have to prove a number of the conclusions Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller arrived at in her rulings were faulty.  Many of the points the petitioners raise in the brief they filed in state appellate court last Thursday would most likely only serve to stall the university in building the athletic center, but not prevent it entirely.  In order to prevent the center from ever being built at the current site, appeals court judges would have to overturn Miller's decision that the athletic center does not constitute an alteration or an addition to Memorial Stadium. Additionally, the petitioners would have to prove that the value of the stadium is less than double the value of the center. The petitioners have said that due to depreciation, they believe the stadium is worth much less than the $600 million the university says it is worth.

The petitioners also claimed in the brief that the seismic surveys of the site are insufficient. Further geological studies of the site would have to support their claim that it is unsafe to build the center there.  In their brief, the appellants argued the university should not be able to build the athletic center without taking into account the seismic condition of Memorial Stadium.  They said because the next phases of the stadium project involve retrofitting the stadium itself, the university should be required to place a value on both the stadium and the prospective upgrades before building the athletic center.  Miller stated explicitly in her June 18 ruling that she did not believe the university needs to value the stadium before building the center.  The possibility of shouldering a bond during the appeals process could also make it difficult for the petitioners to go forward with the appeal.  During a court hearing two weeks ago, the university requested that Miller impose a $1.5 million per month bond on the petitioners during the appeals process in the event that the appeals court judges impose another injunction. The university requested this on the basis that delay of the construction of the stadium costs them about $1.5 million each month in security fees and rising construction costs.

Though Miller did not grant the bond, which would only apply if there is another injunction, an appeals court could.  The injunction that prevented the university from beginning construction during the lawsuit has been extended until Aug. 13 to give the appeals court time to decide whether an injunction should remain during the appeals process.  In their brief to the appeals court, the petitioners requested that the court not post the bond or impose only a small bond, saying they should not be required to since they believe their case serves the public interest.  A $1.5-million-per-month bond could make the appeals process difficult or even impossible for the petitioners. Stephen Volker, the attorney representing the California Oak Foundation, said during the hearing two weeks ago that imposing a bond of that size would "slam the courthouse door in (the petitioners') faces."

The Sydney Morning Herald: Aussie has Wardrobe Malfunction at College Football Game

(This is from the Australian paper’s travel section.)


The manicured lawns of the University of California, Berkeley campus stretch up the hill as hordes of yellow and blue "Cal" supporters stream towards Memorial Stadium. This is bear territory - Golden Bear territory. And I'm wearing a bright red jacket, red-and-white shoes and a red scarf.

Rookie error number one: wearing red to a California Bears home game when the opposition, the Washington State Cougars, are sporting red and white.  It's college football game day in Berkeley and the California girls are excited. A bouncing blonde prances towards us as though she's stepped out of a varsity flick. "Hi, hi, hi!" she beams. A sorority sister for sure.  As three Aussies carrying a cooler filled with beer, we're trying our best to blend in with the fans. It's not working. We've heard rumours of pre-match parties in the car park, fondly dubbed "tailgating". Sports fans allegedly park their trucks and booze in the truck's tray. Bring it on.

A smoky barbecue scent wafts towards us, lifting our spirits. But there's nothing raucous about this scene. A female madrigal group is clustered in a half-circle singing team songs, a capella. With actions. It's a gathering for Cal alumni and everyone is wearing blue and yellow.  We sidestep the oldies and continue towards the stadium. On an Astroturf pitch in front of the stadium kids toss footballs in the "funzone" and a digital clock counts down to game time.  As Queen's We Will Rock You fades, the UC marching band rolls up the hill, beating their drums and flashing their brass.

"You're wearing a red jacket at a Cal game?" a beer-bellied supporter jeers. "Bad move. Real bad move."

The sun has dropped, as has the temperature, but I need no further encouragement. I fold my jacket away and head for the grandstand.  The marching band is on the field, twisting and dancing as they play, true musical athletes. For their finale, they weave into formation to spell "Cal" in cursive. Brilliant. Off come the caps, placed over the hearts, and we're praising the "land of the free and the home of the brave". The players burst onto the field with their helmets and shoulder pads, thumping their chests. It's all here - topless fans with a letter each on their bodies spelling G-O B-E-A-R-S!, pompom-touting cheerleaders, whistle-happy referees.

But the highlight is the half-time entertainment. The marching band returns playing theme songs from classic arcade games. They weave into formation again, creating a video game screen as Mario and Luigi dash through the maze.  We meet the president of the "Cal Moms" fan club wearing a cap emblazoned with her son's name and number, and the boys are swept up in the cheering frenzy. As our Bears score a touchdown with 10 minutes left to play, we head for the exit, triumphant. The boys are clutching a Cal cap each, but the spirit of the game is more than merchandise deep. Go Bears!

KRON: Inside the Crumbling and Decrepit Memorial Stadium

Sunday, July 27, 2008

UC Berkeley: Training Center Delay 'Completely Expected'

BERKELEY, Calif. -- The University of California, Berkeley has been hit by a delay of another 20 days in its bid to build a news sports training center next to its football stadium, which sits on an earthquake fault.  But UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said Friday that the 20-day delay "was completely expected" and was automatically triggered by appeals filed on Thursday by two groups who have filed suit seeking to stop the university's 158,000-square-foot project, which is projected to cost $140 million.  The delay means that an injunction that currently bars the university from starting work on the project will remain in place until at least Aug. 13, Mogulof said.  A UC Board of Regents committee approved building the sports training center on Dec. 5, 2006.  In addition, the Panoramic Hill Association, which represents people who live near the stadium, the California Oak Foundation and the city of Berkeley filed suit against the project.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller issued a preliminary injunction on Jan. 29, 2007, which temporarily stopped the project. But Miller issued a ruling on Tuesday that allows the project to go forward, stating that the university has ad dressed most of her concerns about the project. However, Miller kept her injunction in place for another seven days, until next Tuesday, to give the plaintiffs in the case time to file an appeal.  The Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation filed a joint appeal of Miller's ruling on Thursday.  But the Berkeley City Council on Thursday night couldn't muster the five votes necessary for it to file an appeal at this time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

LA Daily News: Pac-10 Teams Playing Big Time Opponents



Cal-related quote:

Play calling reversal: Cal coach Jeff Tedford has won't be calling the plays this year, as he did last year. He'll turn those duties over to offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.

"Over our tenure I've been the sole play caller and a role player in play calling," he said. "Last season, I was the sole play caller and I felt I needed to go back to the other role so I could focus on doing a better job as my role as head coach. I'll still be involved in game planning, but it's very difficult to do it all and put your hand on the pulse of the team when you're the play caller. I need to do a better job of being a head coach and it will free me up a little bit."

Longshore in for the long haul: Cal quarterback Nate Longshore (Canyon of Canyon Country), who suffered a sprained ankle last year and played in one game in 2005 due to injury, will have to work to maintain the quarterback job.

"We feel we're in a great situation," Tedford said. "Obviously, Nate has won a lot of games for us and is a very talented guy. Kevin Riley came in last season and had a couple of opportunities in the Oregon State game and the bowl game. I feel we have a lot of depth. We'll pick a starter probably the week of the first game. It may take both of them to achieve our goals this year."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

SF Chronicle: Cal Picked to Finish 4th in Pac-10

Trojans the early talk of Pac-10 football, but Bears get some solo backing

Jake Curtis

The preseason Pac-10 football poll released Thursday featured a major surprise.  No, it had nothing to do with USC, which was the overwhelming choice to win a seventh straight conference championship. In fact, the Trojans got 38 of the 39 first-place votes from the panel of media members.  The surprise was the one first-place vote USC did not get. That went to Cal. "We have a believer," Cal's all-Pac-10 center Alex Mack said. The Bears were picked to finish fourth, behind USC, Arizona State and Oregon, but Cal picked up one more first-place vote than it received last season when the Bears were picked to finish second and were ranked 12th in the preseason Associated Press national poll. Stanford was picked to finish ninth. Voters' identities are not released, although it is known that the lone Cal vote was not cast by a Bay Area media member.  The Bears are not expected to be ranked in this year's national preseason poll, but that will not deter Mack's expectations.  "I believe we can win the national championship," he said.

Ready to go: Tedford said Jahvid Best, the presumed starter at running back who missed spring ball with a hip injury, is "100 percent healthy."

Not out of the woods: Tedford is not absolutely sure the legal battle to begin construction of the athletic training center is over, even though a judge ruled this week that the injunction will be lifted Tuesday, barring any further appeals. "I think we're as close as we've been to having some movement," he said, "but it's not over until they say, 'Go.' Over the last month, it's been a big distraction."

Regular fair: USC is the conference's preseason favorite for the sixth straight year, and the Trojans ended up winning or sharing the conference title each of the previous five times.  "We're used to that," coach Pete Carroll said. "It doesn't get us out of whack. It feels normal to be in that situation."

Coach Jeff Tedford's immediate concern when preseason camp opens Aug. 4 is to find a quarterback, and he said the competition between Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley probably will continue into the season. "They are both going to get some game time," he said.


Predicted order of finish in Pac-10 media poll conducted Thursday with first-place votes in parentheses:

Team* Votes

1. USC (38) 389

2. Arizona St. 330

3. Oregon 295

4. Cal (1) 274

5. UCLA 204

6. Oregon St. 192

7. Arizona 185

8. Washington 139

9. Stanford 76

10. Wash. St. 61

Sporting News: Preview of #31 Ranked California

Cal Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford finished his final spring practice, walked over to a group of reporters and cut straight to his No. 1 offseason concern. And it had nothing to do with the quarterback competition or the revamped defense.   "I'm really happy with the team chemistry," he said. "The way we worked together, the attitude, the focus, the camaraderie."  Those ingredients were in short supply during Cal's remarkable 2007 collapse -- the Bears went from the brink of No. 1 in the nation to six losses in seven regular-season games.  Once the losing started, the Bears didn't have the fortitude, the attitude or the camaraderie to stop the slide. Tedford responded by handing the play-calling duties to new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and taking more of a managerial role, which allows him to focus on chemistry and communication.

Early indications are positive. The sense here is that, despite losing so many playmakers, Cal could provide an upside surprise in 2008. Expectations are as low as they've been in Berkeley since the early years of Tedford's tenure, and he thrived under those circumstances.  Then again, the Bears have no chance for a top-five league finish if they don't get solid play at quarterback. Senior Nate Longshore, the two-year starter who struggled in the second half of last season, and sophomore Kevin Riley, the star of the Armed Forces Bowl, were expected to compete in spring practice. But Longshore tore a pectoral muscle, leaving most of the reps to Riley.

The duel will continue in training camp, and Tedford might wait until the week of the season opener to name a starter.  There are also questions in the backfield, where Justin Forsett's departure and James Montgomery's transfer mean speedy sophomore Jahvid Best is the front-runner at tailback -- if his injured hip fully recovers.  And there are questions at receiver, where the Bears must replace DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. The best of the 2008 group might be Nyan Boateng, a Florida transfer, and freshman Michael Calvin.  The defense will have a new look as well, with Cal switching to a 3-4 formation to make best use of its experienced linebackers. The top playmaker is Zack Follett, who will be an edge rusher in the new alignment and just might rent space in the offensive backfield.  There's also a potential playmaker at defensive end: ex-Marine Rulon Davis, who had three sacks in six games last season and, if he stays healthy, could be an all-league performer.


SF Chronicle: City of Berkeley Won't Appeal UC Ruling

Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer

Angry shouts of "Shame! Shame!" erupted in the Berkeley City Chambers Thursday night after the council declined to appeal a court ruling against the city allowing UC Berkeley to build an athletic training center next to Memorial Stadium.  The conflict has drawn wide attention because of a 20-month protest by tree-sitters at the project site who have demanded that UC preserve the grove of more than 80 oaks, redwoods and other trees next to the stadium.  The city had sued - along with stadium neighbors and a tree preservation group - to block the project. The other two plaintiffs plan to appeal the case.  The council decided in closed session, and the boos came after Mayor Tom Bates announced the panel lacked the necessary five votes to authorize an appeal. He said the council has 58 days to change its mind.

Thursday's session began with impassioned public comments from foes of the UC plan, followed by the council retiring into a back room. The meeting was called in response to the long-awaited decision Tuesday by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller, who said Cal may proceed with the project.  The vast majority of dozens of speakers Thursday night, including representatives of neighborhood associations, had urged the appeal. Opponents of the appeal included the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.

Several tree-sitter supporters marched with signs from the grove to the council meeting and cheered loudly for speakers backing the appeal. The facility, estimated to cost about $124 million, would be built for Cal's football team and other athletes where the grove stands. The campus said it would cut 44 of the 87 trees in the grove and that it would plant three trees for each one cut down.

Athletes now use cramped, aging quarters inside the 1923 stadium, which sits on top of the Hayward Fault and is considered to be hazardous in a major earthquake.  Bates said he was encouraged by assurances from Cal on Thursday indicating readiness to move forward on the city's wish that the stadium be seismically retrofitted soon. The costly refit is part of the university's long-term plan, though it still requires approvals and funding. The illegal occupation of the trees continues. "This is day 601 - we're not giving up now," said Gabrielle Silverman, also known as the former tree-sitter Millipede, who was pulled down from the trees by UC-hired workers last month.  The project was blocked by a court injunction in February 2007, following lawsuits against the project by the city, the California Oak Foundation and the Panoramic Hill Association. The foundation and association have said they will appeal. Miller's ruling let the injunction against the project remain in place for a week to allow an appeal.

Critics say the facility should go elsewhere. Some say the trees deserve protection, and some say the site is seismically dangerous and that the project would create serious traffic problems for the car-congested neighborhood of narrow streets, a special hazard in disasters.  Some tree-sitter supporters also say the site is an American Indian burial ground, although no conclusive proof has been brought to light. The tree-sitters have varied in number. Four were in the closely guarded grove Thursday. The tree-top encampment was significantly reduced last month after the university dismantled all but one of the arboreal platforms and lines linking several trees. Two protesters were wrestled down and several voluntarily climbed down because of increased hardship caused by UC's crackdown.  The campus agreed Wednesday to allow more food in exchange for the removal of a new supply line that protesters had rigged from a tree on campus.

Pac-10: Media Day Quotes



California Head Coach Jeff Tedford

Opening Remarks: "Great to see you all here. I'm really excited this time of year to get started and get with the players. I'm very happy to have Alex [Mack] with us. I always joke that he is our number one recruit because he chose to come back to school for his senior season. He is a great player and a great leader, we very fortunate to have him. The guys have been working very hard, the chemistry that we are able to build in the spring will help us. We had some talented guys who have departed, but we also have guys eager to fill in. I'm looking forward to camp on August 3 when players report."

On the quarterback competition: "We feel like we are in a great situation with a our quarterbacks. Nate [Longshore] has played in a lot of games and won a lot of games for us. Kevin Riley had a couple of opportunities last season and played well. It's going to be very competitive going into Fall camp. We will pick a starter the first week of the season and it might take both of them. To clarify, they are both going to get game time."

On Jahvid Best: "Jahvid's health is very good. We held him out of spring drills with a hip injury that he suffered in the USC game. He rehabbed through spring, but has been through the summer program and is 100% healthy."

California C Alex Mack

On the Conference race: "I think it's really competitive. I think everyone in the Pac-10 is really great, we have to come out and play each week. We had close games last season that we could have won, but lost in the last second, so we have to be ready."

Stanfurd Giving Away Tickets to Watch Team in Tiny Stadium

Thanks to David P for this tip. He commutes on Caltrain and participates in
their "ticket by mail" program, where they automatically mail him his
monthly train pass each month. His August pass included a note stating that
Stanford is giving away *free* season tickets, one per pass, to Caltrain
monthly pass holders. David writes "Looks to be another lean year down

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oakland Tribune: Two more tree sitters make it into tree, bring food and water

By Kristin Bender

BERKELEY — Two new tree sitters used a rope-and-pulley system strung 70 feet above ground to maneuver themselves into a redwood at UC Berkeley's tree grove Wednesday, a day after a judge ruled in favor of the university's plans to cut down the trees for a sports training center.  The new arrivals bring to five the number of people living in the redwood, but tree-sit supporters said the action wasn't necessarily prompted by the ruling.  Rather, they said, it was an attempt to get food to protesters after the university cut off supplies about a month ago. "It was real food, it wasn't this processed sugar-and-flour stuff that they've been having them eat," said Doug Buckwald, a spokesman for Save the Oaks at the Stadium. In addition to the sitters, six bags of food and water were moved into the trees. No one would say what type of food was in the bags. The line was strung 80 to 100 yards across Piedmont Avenue from a tall redwood in the parking lot between the Haas School of Business and the Boalt Hall law school, west of the grove, to the redwood in the grove.  Tree sitters have been living on a 2,400-calorie diet of energy bars and water supplied by the university since campus officials cut off supplies from outside groups.  "These people were obviously very committed and had a plan and executed it flawlessly," Buckwald said. "There have been ideas and plans for getting more tree sitters into the trees for some time now."

People have been living in the trees since December 2006 to protest the university's plans to build an athletic training center west of Memorial Stadium, where 44 trees stand. On Tuesday, Alameda County Judge Barbara Miller ruled in favor of UC Berkeley in its long battle to build the $140 million center.  An injunction in place for 18 months will be lifted Tuesday unless plaintiffs in a lawsuit to stop the project file an appeal and get the injunction extended. The project was challenged by the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation.  The California Oak Foundation has already said it will file an appeal, and the Berkeley City Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. today to discuss the possibility of filing an appeal. The council needs five yes votes to move forward with an appeal. With the July 13 death of City Councilmember Dona Spring, an avid tree-sit supporter, there are currently only eight members on the council. Grove supporters are marching from the grove to Old City Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Way to speak to the council before it meets.  Asked if the move to add more people to the tree Wednesday was directly related to the judge' decision, Ayr, the chief spokesman for the tree sitters who goes by one name, said, "Yes and no. I think people have been wanting to get them more proper nutrients for quite a long time and people were inspired to rise up because of the ruling, but mostly because of the inadequate food supplies."

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said police are assessing the situation in the grove to determine an appropriate course of action. "These very dangerous and desperate acts are the exact reason we have to bring this protest to a safe but certain conclusion," Mogulof said. Late Wednesday, Mogulof said the UC police and Ayr agreed to conditions for health and safety concerns. The tree sitters must agree to take down the lines stretching across Piedmont Avenue; lower their waste daily; stop all efforts to bring in supplies from outside groups; and stop all efforts to take down or storm the barricades, Mogulof said.  UC police agree to supply sitters with a bag of food daily, one of the two tree sitters who went up Wednesday will come down, and if he has no outstanding warrants he will be released; the police will give 72-hour notice if they intend to "forcibly remove any tree sitter or end this agreement." Meanwhile, the university says the delays are adding up. Since the approval of the project, the cost to build the center for the university's football team and 12 other teams has ballooned by more than $11 million, said UC attorney Charles Olson. What's more, security and rising construction costs are costing the university an estimated $47,000 a day, Mogulof said. The university has spent about $700,000 on police and security in the past 18 months, Mogulof said.

New Cal Football Social Network

Per the link on the right, I’ve put together a network for Cal football fans.  You can access it at  I’ve just used the basic functionality from Ning, but apparently you can modify it quite a bit if you can write code.  See this example of what a good ning network can look like.  If any of you think that you can make it better, and would like to take it over and add functionality (with the caveat that you are a Cal fan and aren’t looking to make money off of it), email me.  Please note that unless a monthly fee is paid to Ning, those annoying ads from Google appear.  They were not placed there by me.


New York Times: Protesters at Berkeley Lose Legal Ground but Keep Perch


BERKELEY, Calif. — A day after a judge cleared the way for the construction of an athletic center at the University of California, Berkeley, a clutch of protesters remained stubbornly aloft on Wednesday in a stand of oaks that would be uprooted by the plan.  Judge Barbara J. Miller of Superior Court issued an order late Tuesday announcing that an injunction on the construction would dissolve in seven days, seemingly ending a lengthy seesaw legal battle over the center and the oaks. An array of opponents have argued that the plan for the $123 million center, to be built near the Hayward fault, is structurally and environmentally unsound, and Judge Miller had recently granted an extension on a 2007 injunction on the project.

On Tuesday, however, Judge Miller said the university had “submitted competent evidence” that the center would “not result in safety risks.”  University officials said the decision repeated their longstanding arguments about the center. “At this point the litigation is over, and we really hope and expect that everybody — both airborne and on the ground — will abide by the law,” said Dan Mogulof, a university spokesman.  On Tuesday, three protesters remained in a single tree in the oak grove, though the university erected a 10-foot-high fence around the grove last summer and slowly hemmed in the protesters’ access to their support teams on the ground.  Early Wednesday, the tree sitters managed to connect a new support cable between their perch and a tree about 200 feet away, allowing supplies and new protesters to reach the oak grove. On Wednesday afternoon protesters climbed across the new cable, dangling some 50 feet in the air as Berkeley police officers blocked access to the tree outside the fence.  Doug Buckwald, a spokesman for Save the Oaks, said two more protesters made it inside the fence on Wednesday. Mr. Buckwald said his group planned to appeal Judge Miller’s decision. “We feel that what the university is doing is unsafe and irresponsible,” he said. “And we believe it violates environmental laws and earthquake-safety laws.” The protesters have been living in the trees since December 2006. They are one of three groups — including the City of Berkeley — that have sued to block the project.  Mr. Mogulof said security at the protest site and delays in construction were costing the university about $47,000 a day. He also said the university’s patience was waning.  “Continuing with these dangerous and desperate acts,” he said, “just confirms we have to bring this to a safe but certain end.”


KPIX: Cal Stadium Opponents Vow Appeal of Judge's Ruling

BERKELEY, Calif. (KCBS) -- Opponents of UC Berkeley’s plan to clear dozens of trees from around Memorial Stadium to build a new training facility promise to appeal a ruling that allows construction to begin. The ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller Tuesday also lifts the injunction blocking retrofit work of the existing campus stadium. Judge Barbara Miller decided that injunction would remain in effect for one more week to allow the opportunity for appeals.

An attorney for the California Oak Foundation said the organization, along with the city of Berkeley and the Panoramic Hill Association, could file their appeal as early as Wednesday. A group of protesters began living in the trees shortly after the UC Board of Regents approved building the sports training center on Dec. 5, 2006. Three protesters remain at the site.

Note from Blogger: Clearly Stephan Volker (UCSC undergrad, UC Davis Law) the attorney for the California Oak Foundation is in way over his head. He didn’t understand Judge Miller’s initial ruling in June, which is evident by his quote that he was "very pleased" with Miller's ruling and proclaimed, "We won." I wonder if he had a "Mission Accomplished" banner made.

Judge Miller has already ordered the plaintiffs to pay a majority of the court fees. Other than his vow to appeal, he has not provided any basis for such an appeal. He’s simply wasting more money. As I said before, DO NOT donate to the California Oak Foundation, which helped fund this frivolous lawsuit. Per their website, 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." How a landscaping project from the 1920's falls within this description is beyond me. Perhaps the State should re-evaluate their non-profit status.

I sincerely hope the plaintiffs get hit with a huge bill for the court costs.


By Angelica Dongallo and Jacqueline Johnston

After 19 months and more than 40,000 pages of documentation, a judge ruled to lift the injunction preventing the construction of an athletic center near UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium.  Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller ruled Tuesday that the injunction will be lifted in seven days, when the judgment officially takes effect.  The university has battled lawsuits brought by the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation over the construction of the center and the removal of 44 trees at the proposed construction site since December 2006.  Miller postponed the dissolution of the injunction for a week in order to give the petitioners time to file an appeal. The petitioners can ask an appeals court to issue another injunction to halt construction. Not all of the parties may choose to appeal.

"We're interested in looking at the possibility of an appeal," said Save the Oaks spokesperson Doug Buckwald.  But if the petitioners decide to appeal, they will have the burden of proving that Miller's ruling--which comes after she issued a 129-page preliminary ruling last month--is faulty.  Even if petitioners decide to pursue an appeal, the university will be able to commence construction during an appeals process if the three-judge appeals panel does not grant another injunction.  "It's very common for projects to go forward even when there's still litigation going on," said Charles Olson, the university's lead counsel.  Miller also ruled Tuesday that the three petitioners must split 85 percent of the university's court costs, which do not include attorney fees.

"We are very pleased with this decision and see it as confirmation that everything the university has done in connection with this project is fully compliant with the law and completely consistent with our desire to provide our student athletes with safe and suitable facilities," said Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley's executive director of public affairs.  The decision comes after last Thursday's hearing between the parties involved in the lawsuits.  Since Miller's June 18 ruling, the university took out of its construction plans proposals to build a grade beam, make alterations to Memorial Stadium and to hold additional capacity events at Memorial Stadium, which were sections of the plan Miller questioned. In an unusual move, Miller in Tuesday's ruling gave the university the option of putting those parts of its proposal back into the plans within 30 days.

Miller said in her ruling that if the university decides to add those aspects of the plan back in they must show that they are now in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act.  Miller also rejected the petitioners' claim that the changes to the plan the university has made since the June 18 ruling need to go back to the UC Board of Regents for approval, saying the university followed proper procedures.

Miller rejected a request from the university to impose a $1.5 million per month bond on the petitioners should they decide to appeal.  Olson said the university requested the bond to help offset the cost of security at the oak grove and the increase in construction costs associated with the delay in construction, which the university estimated to be $1.5 million per month. The university estimates the construction delays and security costs have already cost them $11 million.  The university would be able to request another bond from the appeals court judges.  Mogulof said university officials will consider all of the options Miller set forth in her ruling.   Though Miller ruled to lift the injunction, campus officials have repeatedly said that the bidding process for the construction project will not take place until after the injunction is officially lifted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oakland Tribune: UC Berkeley wins ruling in sports training center battle

By Kristin Bender

An Alameda County judge has ruled in favor of UC Berkeley in the dispute over its proposed sports training facility. Construction could start as early as next week if the proponents don't appeal the ruling.   Judge Barbara Miller issued a ruling Tuesday saying the university prevailed in most of the legal challenges, but at least one of the plaintiffs — the California Oak Foundation — has vowed to appeal.  UC Berkeley's $140 million sports training center has been blocked for 19 months by lawsuits from three groups — the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation.

In the five-page ruling issued late Tuesday, Miller ordered the injunction that has been in place since February 2007 to be lifted seven days from today.   "(Construction) is going to start as soon as the injunction is finally over and we are very, very close," said UC attorney Charles Olson. "We're delighted with the judge's judgment. It is exactly what we had asked her to do and we are very pleased."  The last three tree sitters will have to be removed from a redwood at the grove where the sports training center is planned. As part of the construction, 44 trees will be cut down. University officials declined to say what will immediately happen with the tree sitters.   Miller had asked the university to address a few deficiencies in its original plans to build the center for the football team and 12 of the university's other sports teams. In her final ruling, she wrote that the university had satisfied her requests and "prevailed on the bulk of petitioners' claims." In fact, she has ordered the city of Berkeley and the other two groups to pay 85 percent of the university's legal costs.

Doug Buckwald, a spokesman for Save the Oaks at the Stadium, said Stephan Volker, the attorney for the California Oak Foundation, had told him there are plans for an appeal.   "The timing of Miller's decision is highly prejudicial against the petitioners. (Miller) did it in a way that makes it very difficult and inconvenient for us to pursue our legal rights to an appeal," Buckwald said. "But we are going to do the best we can to get papers in to the appellate court as soon as possible."  Julie Sinai, the chief of staff for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, said the mayor has called a closed session City Council meeting for Thursday to discuss the judge's ruling and a possible appeal.   Olson said winning any appeal will be highly unlikely after Miller considered 40,000 pages of administrative record over the past 19 months and issued a firm judgment in favor of the university.

"What she has done has given the petitioners a chance to go to the court of appeals and ask the three-judge panel to keep the injunction in place, and that is going to be a very tough challenge for them," he said. "They have a very high challenge to meet."


An Alameda County Superior Court judge today issued a ruling that will allow the University of California, Berkeley to begin construction on a new sports training center and the retrofitting of the campus stadium after a one-week period that would allow objectors to appeal.  Judge Barbara Miller's judgment did find in favor of those fighting the facility, the Panoramic Hill Association, the California Oak Foundation and the city of Berkeley, in some matters.  Miller found that an Environmental Impact Report lacks support that doubling the number of capacity events at the California Memorial Stadium will cause significant environmental effects that are unavoidable.

A UC Board of Regents committee approved building the sports training center on Dec. 5, 2006.  Shortly afterward, a group of people began living in a grove of oak trees next to the stadium to protest the project because it calls for tearing down most of the trees. Three protesters remain at the site. UC attorney Charles Olson has said the estimated cost of the project has grown by more than $11 million since Miller issued a preliminary injunction on Jan. 29, 2007. Now, not only will Miller's ruling today allow the construction on campus, it will also require the petitioners to pay a majority of court fees. The Panoramic Hill Association, the California Oak Foundation and the city of Berkeley will each be required to pay an equal part of 85 percent of the court costs, Miller's judgment stated. "We are very pleased with this decision and see it as confirmation that everything the University has done in connection with this project is fully compliant with the law and completely consistent with our desire to provide our student athletes with safe and suitable facilities," UC spokesman Dan Mogulof said in a prepared statement.

"We look forward to the start of a construction process that will begin with the new Student Athlete High Performance Center and culminate with the seismic retrofitting and modernization of California Memorial Stadium," he said. There have been questions as to whether possible changes proposed by university officials to the stadium would pose a threat to safety, especially in the removal of grade beam along the base of the west wall.  But according to Miller's ruling, "The University has submitted competent evidence that the design changes, and in particular the omission of the grade beam, will not result in safety risks."

Doug Buckwald, the spokesman for Save the Oaks, said in a statement that the seven-day period in which attorneys can appeal will make it difficult for the petitioners.  According to Buckwald, two of the three attorneys representing the petitioners are out of town and will not be able to fully participate in the process.

"Irrespective of the unfair time constraints of the judicial process, the university still could choose to do the right thing and spare the trees until the appellate court rules," Buckwald said. "That approach would be cooperative and would ensure that the legitimate interests of the city and community were not shortchanged on a legal technicality."  The university will have to prove that the total costs of removing the grade beam, altering two staircases and penetrating the ground floor slab will cost less than 50 percent of the value of the stadium itself, the ruling stated.


SF Chronicle: UC Berkeley can build athletic training center, judge rules

UC Berkeley can build its proposed athlete training center, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled late today, handing a crucial victory to the university in a protracted battle marked by a highly publicized protest by tree-sitters since December 2006.  The long-awaited ruling by Judge Barbara Miller said the university has overcome the legal barriers to the project, which has been blocked by a court injunction since February 2007.  Miller said the injunction can be lifted in a week. She postponed the removal of the injunction for seven days to give opponents an opportunity to appeal to the state Court of Appeal.

The decision came as a blow to the three plaintiffs that sought to block the facility - the City of Berkeley, the California Oak Foundation and a neighborhood group, the Panoramic Hill Association. Miller ordered them to pay 85 percent of court costs.  "We're very pleased with the ruling," said Charles Olson, lead attorney for the university. He said the court costs haven't been tallied yet but that they would be in the six figures.

Stephan Volker, attorney for the California Oak Foundation, said the group will file an immediate appeal, possibly as early as Wednesday. He said he's confident that the Court of Appeal will overturn Miller's decision.  Three protesters remain in one tree at the site where the university wants to cut 44 trees in a grove of oaks, redwoods and cypress to build the student-athlete facility next to the stadium.

The protest at one point was waged by a dozen or more tree-sitters on platforms on several trees, but the aerial encampment was sharply reduced in June in a crackdown by the university - including removal of several platforms, blocking supporters from providing food and water and grabbing a couple of protesters out of the trees. Several protesters voluntarily came down.

One of the former tree-sitters, Erik Eisenberg, better known by his protest name "Ayr," said tonight that the tree-sit will continue despite the ruling.  "Our response is the same as it was on day one," he said. "We'll leave after the university signs something legally binding to protect the trees in perpetuity."  Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university has several options for its next steps but that no decisions had been reached as of tonight.  City of Berkeley spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said the city council will have to discuss what the city's response will be. At tonight's council meeting, Mayor Tom Bates announced that the council will take up the issue in a closed session at 5 p.m. Thursday, Clunies-Ross said.

An earlier ruling by Miller largely favored the university but listed some obstacles that must be overcome. Miller's ruling today said the campus resolved those issues by agreeing to withdraw a plan to add several major events to the stadium and to forego a beam connected the training center with the stadium.


KCRA Sacramento: Judge To Lift UC Berkeley Construction Ban

BERKELEY, Calif. -- A judge said she will lift an order banning construction on a new sports center at the University of California, Berkeley.  The ruling late Tuesday dissolves the building ban in seven days, giving opponents a chance to appeal.  The proposed center spurred an 18-month-long tree-sitting protest in an oak grove that would make way for the new building.   Neighbors, city officials and the California Oak Foundation filed suit challenging the project on environmental and seismic safety grounds.

Contra Costa Times: UC settles Tightwad Hill lawsuit

By Matt Krupnick

Contra Costa Times

BERKELEY — UC Berkeley has settled a lawsuit filed by the penny-pinching denizens of Tightwad Hill, which for more than 80 years has offered free viewing of Cal football games.  The university said Friday it would include the hilltop fans in discussions about alterations of the eastern side of Memorial Stadium. The school has proposed adding seats there that would block views from Tightwad Hill, which technically is the lower part of Charter Hill.  With other lawsuits tying up more imminent renovations of the 85-year-old stadium, the university essentially decided to let the Tightwad Hill issue go for now, said Bob Milano, an assistant athletic director.  "We just see this as an issue we'll deal with later," he said. "It just wasn't something we wanted to fight right now.

"They're all football fans anyway."  The settlement will not prevent the university from blocking the free views, but it requires UC to consult with the plaintiffs before altering the eastern side.   "It gives us a seat at the table, which is what we've wanted all along," said Dan Sicular, a 1981 UC Berkeley alumnus who led the legal fight. "Some kind of complete victory for Tightwad Hill was never in the offing."   The university had planned to begin construction west of Memorial Stadium by now, but lawsuits over seismic concerns and a grove of oak trees have tied up the project. Renovations to the eastern side are at least five years away, Milano said.

Jonathan Okanes' Thoughts on Depth Chart


Cal released what presumably will be the depth chart at the start of training camp. There are few surprises. One interesting area to follow is the offensive line. Mark Boskovich is listed as the first-team left guard, but Richard Fisher was getting the first team reps at the end of spring practice. Also, Chet Teofilo is listed as the starter at right tackle, but that isn’t set in stone. The Bears have several quality young offensive linemen who could challenge for playing time.


You’ll also notice that Cal lists 12 positions on defense, with four defensive linemen and four linebackers. That’s because, although defensive coordinator Bob Gregory has fallen short of making an official announcement, the Bears look like they’re going to use the 3-4 as their base defense this season. So there are four linebackers listed. But there still are four linemen listed because, officially, the Bears still are a 4-3 team. On Aug. 30 against Michigan State, the starting defensive line likely will have Rulon Davis and Tyson Alualu on the ends with either Mika Kane or Derrick Hill at nose guard. The four linebackers listed on the depth chart should play behind them, and the starting secondary listed looks pretty stable as well.

Cal's 2008 PreSeason Depth Chart

Cal released its preseason depth chart, available here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Contra Costa Times: Cal's Tedford inspired by book


By Jonathan Okanes

Cal begins training camp for the 2008 football season in less than three weeks, and when the Bears take the Memorial Stadium field for their first practice on Aug. 4, they hope they've shored up the deficiency in intangibles that plagued them during the second half of last year.

Along with their usual strength and conditioning program, Cal has spent a lot of the offseason focusing on non-football issues such as leadership, discipline and commitment. To that end, coach Jeff Tedford employed the book "Talent is Never Enough" by leadership guru John Maxwell as a teaching tool, having each of his assistant coaches break down a chapter in a classroom setting.

"I started reading it and I found myself highlighting half of pages, or full pages. It was so relevant to what our situation was," Tedford said. "I felt like we needed to spend time on a lot of the things in the book and go back and redefine who we are. There were a lot of things that we needed to hear as a football program."

Maxwell, who has written several successful books on leadership, argues that simple talent will never translate into success unless other factors related to character and attitude are strong as well. In "Talent is Never Enough," Maxwell has chapters on belief, passion, initiative, focus, preparation, practice, perseverance, courage, teachability, character, relationships, responsibility and teamwork.  Last season, few questioned the Bears had talent. That showed when they started 5-0 and ascended to No. 2 in the national rankings. But it also became clear that the talent wasn't enough when they lost six of their final seven regular-season games.  "It's like the whole book was written for us," Cal center Alex Mack said. "It was odd to see us so talented and not doing well last year. I think it did a good job helping us redefine the culture of our team. It reminded us what goes into winning games. I think that kind of got away from us last season."

By the end of last season, most involved with Cal's program could see the team was lacking in such things as leadership, passion and trust. It resulted in a stunning collapse during the second half of the season that left college football observers across the country dumbfounded.

In his chapter on teamwork, Maxwell demonstrates the importance of some of these intangibles. He argues that teams don't simply come together on their own; that they require leadership to do so. He also claims that the more talented a team is, the more leadership is needed.

"I think every player got something out of this," Cal linebacker Zack Follett said. "I knew right from the beginning by seeing the looks on their faces. Everyone was paying attention and there was a lot of talk about it around the team."  Tedford joked that he rarely received a book in the mail offering help during his first five years at Cal. After last season, "I had 15 books stacked up in my mailbox," he said. "Talent is Never Enough," actually was a gift from athletic director Sandy Barbour, who gave a copy of the book to each coach in the athletic department.  "I just chose to put that one in my bag," Tedford said. "I got on a plane and started reading it, and there were just so many great things that I thought would be beneficial."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yahoo! Sports: Rodgers rarin' to go for Packers


By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

Unlike most NFL players, Aaron Rodgers can’t wait for training camp to begin. Even as he lives it up this weekend at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, the Green Bay Packers’ new starting quarterback is itching to embrace the dorm life, two-a-days and monotonous meetings that men in his profession typically dread.  Most of all, as he closes his eyes at night, Rodgers flashes ahead to the games he’ll get to play come September, when he expects to become the first Packers player other than Brett Favre to start at quarterback since 1992. As Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy made clear Saturday – just as they had last month privately to Rodgers, before the news broke that Favre had decided to end his four-month-long retirement – a new era has begun in Titletown.

The Packers now are Rodgers’ team, and the fourth-year passer literally can’t wait until the July 27 reporting date for the team’s training camp at St. Norbert College.  “I’m going out there a week early, if that tells you anything,” Rodgers told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday in his first extended interview since Favre requested his formal release in a letter the Packers received Friday. “I’m just excited about that first night’s sleep in the dorms, going out and practicing the next day and all the things that will follow. I knew at some point my time would come, and it looks like we’re getting close to that.”

As for Favre’s change of heart, and the Packers’ decision to deny the legendary passer’s request to be released so that he could play for the team of his choosing, Rodgers insisted he is not getting caught up in the melodrama.  “I’m only worried about things I can control,” he said. “I can’t control any decisions that he might make, so I’m not worried about it. Brett and I haven’t talked, so I can’t tell you where he’s coming from. And really, I’m not even thinking about it, and it doesn’t (add any additional pressure). There’s pressure on every quarterback in the NFL. Every team expects Super Bowl or bust. I know I need to get myself ready to play, and that’s pretty much all that matters to me.”

Few first-round draft picks have spent as much time waiting for their chance as Rodgers, who is the 21st century sports world’s poster child for enforced patience. He launched his pro career by squirming nervously in front of millions, enduring an infamous 4½-hour stint in the green room on draft day in 2005. Projected as the possible No. 1 overall selection, the former Cal star was passed over by the San Francisco 49ers, who instead chose Alex Smith, and an uncomfortable and incomprehensible free-fall commenced.

When the Packers finally took Rodgers with the 24th overall selection, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue offered private words of encouragement on the dais that have stuck with Rodgers to this day.  “He called my name and we shook hands and I held up the Packers jersey, and then he told me, ‘Good things happen to people who are patient,’ ” Rodgers recalled Saturday. “I believe it, now more than ever.”  Rodgers’ success never has seemed to come easily. He played one season at Butte College, a junior college near his hometown of Chico, Calif., and wasn’t attracting interest from Division I schools until Cal coach Jeff Tedford came to scout teammate Garrett Cross. Enlisted to throw to the tight end, Rodgers impressed Tedford during the workout and earned a scholarship offer. He didn’t become the Golden Bears’ starter until several games into his sophomore season. Rodgers’ record-setting junior campaign ended with then-No. 4 Cal losing out on its first Rose Bowl berth since 1959 because of a controversial Bowl Championship Series outcome affected by a late shift in the polls, followed by a disappointing defeat to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

After that, Rodgers declared for the draft. He mostly has watched during his first three seasons as Favre extended his record streak to 275 consecutive starts. But Rodgers impressed McCarthy and Thompson with his progress heading into 2007, and when Favre suffered an elbow injury after performing poorly in the Packers’ pivotal showdown with the Dallas Cowboys last November, Rodgers played brilliantly (18 of 26, 201 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) in relief and nearly pulled out a comeback victory.

Though Favre had a terrific season in ‘07, he struggled in the Packers’ defeat to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field. After Favre’s emotional retirement news conference last March, Thompson and McCarthy began preparing Rodgers to take over as the starter. Later that month, according to a report in Friday’s Wisconsin State Journal, Favre told the GM and coach he was ready to end his retirement and return but later reneged on the deal. At that point, the decision was made to move forward with Rodgers as the starter, and in April the team drafted two quarterbacks, second-rounder Brian Brohm and seventh-rounder Matt Flynn, as backups.

On Saturday, Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “Aaron Rodgers is our starting quarterback” and conceded he wasn’t sure how the Favre situation would play out. Earlier, Thompson and McCarthy told The Associated Press that they wouldn’t grant Favre’s request to be released and that the veteran quarterback was welcome to rejoin the team as a backup. A more plausible scenario is that the Packers will attempt to trade Favre over the next two weeks, thus allowing him to continue his career while avoiding the prospect of him playing for NFC North rivals Chicago or Minnesota.  Even if Favre were to return to the Packers, creating what surely would be an uncomfortable situation, Rodgers insists he won’t be fazed.

“We’ve got a first-class organization,” Rodgers said. “Ted has done a great job building our team through the draft, and coach McCarthy has done a great job with the day-to-day stuff. We’ve got a great group of players. I’ve been there the whole offseason and have been hanging out with guys away from the stadium and building a great rapport with my teammates. It’s a great situation.”  Rodgers said he has received supportive calls and text messages from numerous teammates over the past couple of days, including offensive linemen Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton and wideout Greg Jennings. He also has shown his leadership skills by actively mentoring Brohm and Flynn, a stark contrast to the chilly reception he got from Favre after joining the team.

“I’ve been trying to be as open as I can possibly be,” Rodgers said. “I told both Brian and Matt from the start that if they have any questions, they should come to me and I’ll help them in any way I can. Because making them better is making our team better.”   Though Rodgers wishes his golf game was in better shape, he thoroughly enjoyed his experience in Lake Tahoe. On Friday night he cracked up while watching comedian Frank Caliendo, a Milwaukee native, do his deadpan impression of announcer John Madden gushing over Favre during a private show at Harrah’s Casino. After the show Rodgers spoke privately to Caliendo, then joined Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Cal predecessor Kyle Boller at a blackjack table.

“This is a great week up here,” Rodgers said. “But I’m eager to get back to Green Bay and get things going.”

He is especially eager to help the Packers, who had the league’s youngest roster in ‘07, erase the memories of the disappointing defeat to the Giants in subzero temperatures last January. Standing on the sideline, Rodgers recalled, “I was freezing. It was ridiculous. Miserable is pretty much the best word. I was miserable, and just about everybody in the stands was, too – especially after we lost.”

Rodgers knows the only way he can win over the fans in Green Bay is to win games, regardless of how Favre’s situation plays out. Replacing a legend won’t be easy but he has been preparing for this moment for a long time, and he swears he has no regrets about the patience it required.  “My road to where I am now has been very fulfilling,” Rodgers said shortly before entering the clubhouse at Edgewood-Tahoe, where he’d just completed Saturday’s second round. “I put in a lot of hard work in high school just to get noticed, and when I got to Cal I waited in the wings behind a really good quarterback (Reggie Robertson) before I got my turn. Obviously, I knew when I was drafted I was going to have to wait a while because I was behind a Hall of Fame quarterback who is one of the greatest guys ever to lace ‘em up.  “I knew at some point I’d get a chance to play. I always hoped it would be in Green Bay. I’m so ready.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Looking Ahead: CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS



When: TBD, Saturday, Dec. 6

Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.


2007 RECAP: After winning their first five games – including a season-opening trouncing of Tennessee -- the Bears were flirting with the nation's No. 1 spot. Then came a stunning upset – Oregon State defeated Cal in Berkeley when backup quarterback Kevin Riley tried to scramble instead of throwing the ball away. Time ran out and so did Cal's season. Jeff Tedford's squad went into an unlikely tailspin, losing six of its next seven games, including back-to-back losses to the Huskies and archrival Stanford.   However, the team took a hard look in the mirror and defeated Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl on New Year's Eve. The win gave Cal a 7-6 record, its sixth consecutive winning season.

2008 OUTLOOK: One of the nation's most curious quarterback competitions can be found in the East Bay. Will it be senior Nate Longshore, who has struggled with injury and inconsistency, or Riley, who was superb in the bowl game?   This question is just one for an offense that seems riddled with them. Namely, the skill positions have been depleted.   Sophomore Jahvid Best will be coming off a hip injury and, while he looks to be a star in the making at tailback, is a bit fragile and untested.  The receiving corps will be completely rebuilt with just 12 career catches scattered between Michael Calvin, Jeremy Ross, Nyan Boateng, LaReylle Cunningham and Drew Glover.

One area that could make all those skill questions go away is the offensive line. Led by All-American center Alex Mack, the unit also returns left tackle Mike Tepper and right guard Noris Malele, both seniors.  On top of it all, Tedford relinquished his play-calling duties at the end of the season in order to better manage the team as a whole. The job now goes to first-year offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.

Defensively, Cal returns seven starters and a solid linebacking corps and should improve on its subpar showing of a year ago.  Look for the team to run out of the 3-4 base. Despite just 10 sacks last season, the line excelled in the spring and was led by ends Rulon Davis and Tyson Alualu. The secondary is decent, as well, with returning starters Syd'Quan Thompson at corner and Bernard Hicks at free safety. The battles at the other DB position include talented youngsters such as sophomores Chris Conte and Darian Hagan at corner and freshman D.J. Campbell at strong safety.

PEEK AT PERSONNEL: Zack Follett leads a tough linebacking corps that includes O'Dea High product Anthony Felder.

Worrell Williams, a senior, rounds out a unit with all three returning starters and some depth in the tank – such as junior Eddie Young, freshman D.J. Holt and sophomore Michael Mohamed.  The Bears linebacking corps ranks among the nation's best and one of the top two in the Pac-10. It is quick and aggressive.

Where this unit goes, so goes the Bears' season.

WHAT THE HUSKIES CAN EXPECT: Trying to predict what will happen five months from now is just dumb.

On paper, there is no reason to think the Huskies can't sneak out a win in Berkeley. As a matter of fact, they almost did it two years ago with a backup quarterback (Carl Bonnell) throwing five interceptions. The Huskies tore the Bears' front four apart last season, but it is a stretch to think what happened to Cal last season was not an anomaly.  Being the season finale, the Huskies will likely know if they are playing their final game under coach Tyrone Willingham. They could be inspired to save his job, inspired to send him out right or gearing up for their first bowl game.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Chiefs TE Gonzalez saves man's life in restaurant

A California man says Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Kansas City Chiefs kept him from choking to death.  “Tony saved my life. There’s no doubt,” Ken Hunter, a shipping company manager, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Huntington Beach, Calif.  “Tony came up behind me and gave me the Heimlich maneuver. Thank God he was there.”  Gonzalez, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who has set numerous NFL records, was having dinner with his wife, brother and 5-week-old daughter at Capone’s restaurant in Huntington Beach Thursday night. Hunter, 45, was dining with his girlfriend at the next table when suddenly a piece of meat stuck in his throat.

“I tried to take a drink of water, but I couldn’t swallow,” Hunter told The AP. “Then I couldn’t breathe. That’s a terrible feeling. I couldn’t breathe. Then I guess I started to panic.”   Gonzalez, sitting with his back to Hunter’s table, looked around when he heard Hunter’s companion yelling.  “She was screaming, `He can’t breathe, he can’t breathe,”’ Gonzalez said by phone from California, where he lives in the offseason. “The whole restaurant was quiet. Nobody was doing anything.”  Then I saw he was turning blue. Everybody in the restaurant was just kind of sitting there wide-eyed.”  The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez, about a foot taller than Hunter, jumped out of his chair and came up behind the stricken man and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

“After just a few seconds, the piece of meat popped out,” Hunter said. “I could breathe again. It’s a good thing Tony is so tall because I had stood up— I think.”  Diana Martin, a restaurant employee, said no one else seemed to know what to do.  “He was so lucky Tony was there,” Martin said. “In a situation like that, every second counts. It helped a lot that Tony’s a big, strong guy because you have to be able to apply some pretty good pressure. I don’t think I would have been strong enough to help him.”  Hunter went into the restroom to clean up and didn’t realize he’d been saved by a famous athlete until he came out.  “I’m a big NFL fan and I recognized him right away. I was still kind of dazed when I went over and thanked him and said, `What can I do for you?’ I guess I said it about 1,000 times.”

Gonzalez, who has been active in charity and community activities during a brilliant career with the Chiefs, said he had no intention of having the incident become public.  “The next night I had a dinner for my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and people were saying, `Why didn’t you tell me about that?’ I honestly don’t want to make a big deal out of it. But of course it does give me a lot of satisfaction to know that I was able to help somebody.”  One of the most productive receivers in pro football history, Gonzalez holds the NFL record for tight ends with 820 career receptions and 102 catches in a season. He needs only 79 more yards receiving to become the career leader among tight ends.

He has never received any formal instruction in the Heimlich maneuver.  “I had seen it done, so I just did it,” Gonzalez said. “When you find yourself in those situations where you have to take action in a crucial situation, you just do it. I got the same feeling I get when I go on a hospital visit.”’  Hunter is a lifelong fan of the San Diego Chargers, one of Kansas City’s key rivals in the AFC West, and plans to be at the game when the Chiefs visit the Chargers on Nov. 9.  “I’m Tony’s No. 1 fan now,” he said.  And what will this longtime follower of the Chargers do if they’re ahead by four or five points in the final minute and Gonzalez runs into the end zone and leaps up for what would be the game-winning touchdown for K.C.?  “I’m going to be yelling for Tony to catch the ball,” Hunter said. “I think all my friends will understand.”