Friday, July 31, 2009

SF Chronicle: Pac-10 Media Day Summary



Even in down years, the Pac-10 at least had some established quarterbacks, guys who had started for a few years and were well known to NFL scouts. Not anymore.  The Pac-10 is a running backs league now. There are stellar backs all over the conference, while the list of returning quarterback starters who figure to keep their jobs this year goes like this: Jeremiah Masoli (Oregon), Lyle Moevao (Oregon State) and Jake Locker (Washington). Masoli, who went to junior college at City College of San Francisco, is more of a running threat than he is a conventional passer. The latter two are coming off surgery.

Yes, other quarterbacks have returned, but Cal's Kevin Riley split time with Nate Longshore last year, while Stanford's Tavita Pritchard, UCLA's Kevin Craft and Washington State's Kevin Lopina are long shots to fight off younger challengers (namely, Andrew Luck, Kevin Prince and Marshall Lobbestael) for the No. 1 spot. Mark Sanchez (USC), Willie Tuitama (Arizona) and Rudy Carpenter (Arizona State) are gone, so the Pac-10 - celebrated as a great passers' conference - will rely more than ever on great running backs.  The talk at Thursday's Pac-10 media day was mainly about the backs and the defenders who will have to stop them. There's Joe McKnight, one of a herd of backs at USC - which, what a surprise, was picked by the media to win its eighth straight title.

McKnight averaged 7.4 yards a carry last year, a figure that would be captivating except that Cal's Jahvid Best averaged 8.1 on his way to a conference-leading 1,580 yards. The Heisman candidate, faster than a coffee stain, is a big reason Cal was picked to finish second, ahead of loaded Oregon.  Stanford, picked sixth, has its 237-pound wrecking ball, Toby Gerhart; Arizona has Nic Grigsby and Oregon has LeGarrette Blount, all of whom rushed for 1,000 yards. And then there's Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State, who was Pac-10 offensive player of the year as a freshman.  "Now you see the running game being more efficient than it's been in a long time," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. How good is the Pac-10? "Our most difficult games come from our own conference," USC's Pete Carroll said. "I can't imagine anybody better than this conference." Thorny Rose Bowl: Cal's Jeff Tedford said he would be "disappointed" if the Bowl Championship Series' new deal, which starts next year, deprived an otherwise deserving Bears team of a Rose Bowl berth.

Under the new deal, any team from a non-BCS conference that qualifies for a BCS game would fill the vacancy left by a Pac-10 (read: USC) or Big Ten team that qualified for the national title game. In other words, for one time only, a Cal team that, say, went 11-1 could be aced out for its first Rose berth since 1958 by an undefeated non-BCS team. "Our fans would prefer to go to the Rose Bowl than the national championship," Tedford said. "That's the mind-set at Cal. There's such a drought there. They're so starved for the Rose Bowl." He said if the Bears wind up in that predicament, "it would be disappointing."

Orlando Sentinel: Q&A with Cal's Jahvid Best


Cal running back Jahvid Best is coming off a fantastic sophomore season and is perhaps the top running back Heisman candidate for 2009.  He is the nation’s leading returning rusher after blazing his way to 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging a phenomenal 8.14 yards per carry (he missed a game or two due to injury).  He was an amazing track athlete in high school with career bests of 10.31 in the 100 meters and 20.65 in the 200 meters and he has been able to carry over his speed onto the gridiron.  He’s a humble, low-key guy who is very team-oriented, a rare thing nowadays.  I sat down with him at Pac-10 media day and conducted the following Q&A session:

Q: First off, you had some injuries last year that caused you to miss a couple games.  What are you doing now to get more durable and are you worried that it could affect your speed and explosiveness?

A:  I’ve been trying to get bigger.  But I’ve been really cautious about putting on weight.  I’ve been very careful about it.  I feel like I’ve put on the right weight.  I was 180 pounds when I ran a 10.31 in high school.  I’m 200 pounds now and I feel faster, definitely more explosive. 

Q:  What do you think you have to do to win the Heisman?

A: As far as I’m concerned, the people that win the Heisman are on a winning team, so I figure my role is to do the best I can to help my team win.  The more we win, the more Heisman attention I’ll get.

Q: What about stats?  What kind of season do you have to have?

A: I just need to have a season similar to last season.  I feel that would be good enough, but to add a Pac-10 championship would help more.  I never really have a yardage goal.  The last seven or eight years we’ve had a 1,000-yard rusher at Cal, so I do want to keep that tradition going.

Q: Your backup, Shane Vereen, is a pretty capable runner, too.  How does his presence help you?

A: I’m blessed to have a back like Shane Vereen behind me.  I do something and that gets him going and then he comes in and does something special and that gets me going.  I feed off of him and he feeds off of me.  When we’re in there together, it’s just great.  We’re great friends after practice, too.

Q: Whose style do you try to emulate as a running back?

A: I try to emulate Reggie (Bush) a lot, but that was mostly when I was in high school.  I used to watch film of him in high school and tried to do what he does.  I think my game is pretty similar to his.  He was an idol of mine when I was growing up.

Q:  Given that, was there any thought of following in his footsteps at USC?

A: I’m from the Bay Area and didn’t really want to leave.  That’s why I chose Cal, because it was so close to home.  I’m a family oriented person, so this way my family can see all the home games.

Q:  You had a huge high school career and were one of the fastest players in the country coming out.  Yet, your recruitment process was mostly a mystery to those who following recruiting.  Why was that?

A:  I kind of liked to keep a low profile.   I only took two official visits, Cal and Oregon.  I took some unofficials to USC a couple times.  But I didn’t do the whole big recruiting thing, I kept it simple.  And I was so busy running track anyway in the spring, so that was my main focus.

Q:  What other current college backs do you enjoy watching?

A:  DeMarco Murray of Oklahoma.  I like that kid.  Joe McKnight, when we’re watching games at the hotel, I look at him. Noel Devine of West Virginia.

Q:  I put out an annual list of the fastest players in college football.  I have you sixth heading into the season.  How would you match up speed-wise with guys like Jeff Demps, Trindon Holliday and C.J. Spiller?

A:  I feel like my quickness is up to par with the best of them.  I think I could still run a 10.3 if I were running right now.  If I had concentrated on track, I’m sure I would’ve gotten a lot faster.

Q:  How do you feel about all the media attention you are getting?  If Cal has a big year, how is the team prepared to handle it?

A:  I’ll be able to handle it.  The better we do, the more attention we get.   The attention is good for the Pac-10 conference and Cal.  It depends on how we take it.  If we think we’ve ‘arrived’ as a team, that could be bad for us, but if we take it as a grain of salt, that’ll be good for us.

Q:  Do any other running backs give you advice?  What do they tell you to work on?

A:  Marshawn (Lynch) is always up there and he’s always telling me to keep doing what I’m doing and to keep working hard.  Justin Forsett came back into town and he gave me some words of wisdom.  The biggest thing I need to work on is pass blocking and running more physical.  There are times where I try to make a big play out of something. That’s my style, but there was really nothing there.  That’s when I need to use a physical style of running just to get those extra couple yards instead of forcing it.

Q:  Being a home run hitter, defenses key on you a lot.  What defenses posed the biggest challenges for you last season?

A: Oregon, Maryland and USC probably were the toughest.  As far as the level of talent and speed, USC’s guys were slightly more talented, but they were just so good at executing and controlling their gaps.  That was what set them apart.  It was frustrating, but I have to give them credit for keeping me in check.  They controlled the line of scrimmage.

Q: Say it’s game 12 and you are one of the main Heisman candidates with a chance to win it.  And then you break a big touchdown run to break the game open.  Think you might pull a Desmond Howard and make a Heisman statememt?

A:  You’ll never see me strike a Heisman pose.

ESPN: Cal to Travel Early to Minnesota


California coach Jeff Tedford said the Bears may travel to Minnesota for their Sept. 19 game a day early to get acclimated to the time change, but he also said he doesn't believe the a.m. kickoff last year at Maryland was as much of an issue as the humidity.

Seattle Times: Pac-10 football has a different look - except for that team on top


Not to imply that the league is totally inverted. USC was picked by media for the 37th straight year — no, make that the seventh straight — to win the conference, with California second. So maybe it's merely all about finding new ways to try to beat the Trojans.  Under Jeff Tedford, Cal has had USC in its crosshairs for years. In 2004, with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, it came within a last-minute, inside-the-10 misfire of setting the Trojans dynasty ablaze, but nobody has one-upped USC since.

If the Bears do it this year, no doubt they'll have Jahvid Best to thank. He rushed for 1,580 yards in 2008, about nine-tenths of it against the Huskies and Cougars, and an 8.1-yard average. He's the most notable offensive returnee in a conference that has eight of its top 10 rushers back. "He's worth the price of admission," said Tedford.

Los Angeles Times: USC and UCLA - Here's How Your Rivals Stack Up



Talk all you want about two-deep zones. California Coach Jeff Tedford found himself discussing time zones.  Last season, when his team fell behind quickly and lost at Maryland, fans wondered about the 9 a.m. Pacific kickoff and whether Tedford erred by bringing his team east only a day earlier. Though Tedford still insists his players had time to acclimate, he will add an extra day to the travel schedule when Cal visits Minnesota for another morning game. "I know there was a lot made of the Maryland trip," he said. "I don't want to stick my head in the sand and be stubborn."

Arizona Daily Star: Cal Excerpts


A recent tweak to the Bowl Championship Series could put an unlikely team in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl will be obligated to take a team from a non-BCS conference school that has qualified for the BCS — provided either the Pac-10 or Big Ten team is playing in the national championship game instead.  So if USC plays in the national title game, Utah or Boise State or Ball State, for example, could replace the Pac-10 runner-up in Pasadena.  The tweak starts in 2010 and runs through 2013. The Rose Bowl is obligated to insert the non-BCS conference team only once.

"I think it would be unfortunate if we weren't able to have a chance to go to the Rose Bowl," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Our fans, I think, would prefer to go to the Rose Bowl than the national championship. That's the mindset at Cal. There's such a drought there and they're so starved for a Rose Bowl."


Another sign of the economic times: Cal will take a charter bus instead of a plane to face UCLA on Oct. 17 in Pasadena, Calif.  "I don't think that's going to hinder us whatsoever, either on the football field or what we're doing academically," Tedford said.  The trip is about six hours. Tedford said he figured that "it's maybe going to be one more hour" than the Golden Bears would put in to travel to an airport and fly.

Oregonian: Can Cal Contend? Jeff Tedford says, sure


Cal coach Jeff Tedford says high expectations don't bother him or his team.  "We welcome it and embrace it," Tedford said.  The Golden Bears have one of the best running backs in the country in Jahvid Best, who led the Pac-10 in rushing last season. Best is gritty enough to get the tough years, and explosive enough to strike from anywhere. Best is a known commodity -- assuming he stays healthy.

A bigger key to Cal's ability to challenge USC for the conference title probably will be Kevin Riley, the former Beaverton star high who figures to be the starting quarterback when the Bears open the season at home against Maryland. Riley has all the tools. Tedford says what he wants is "consistency." "We have to be more consistent in the passing game," Tedford said. The Cal coach said Riley -- who completed barely 50 percent of his passes last season -- has been working hard to improve himself.

The Bears could be good on defense, assuming the can fill the holes at linebacker. Their three starters completed their eligibility last season. The secondary returns intact. The Bears have a relatively easy nonconference schedule, with Maryland and Eastern Washington at home, and Minnesota on the road. Then things get serious with a road game at Oregon and a home date with the Trojans.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SF Chronicle: Cal's path to Rose Bowl more crowded

By Ray Ratto

It is a measure of the diminishing importance of college football on this coast that the big Rose Bowl news was broken in late May in Atlanta and only became a point of contention Monday in Chicago.  The big Rose Bowl news being, of course, that as part of the new Bowl Championship Series deal, the Rose Bowl no longer gets the right to reserve its vacancies for the Big Ten and Pac-10. Among the larger consideration, it also means that Cal's already-narrow path to the one bowl its fans crave most is now blocked by the rest of the country. You know, like Utah. Or Boise State. Any team from a non-BCS conference that qualifies for a BCS game would fill the vacancy left by a Pac-10 or Big Ten team that qualified for the national championship game.

In short, Cal's flirtations with second place behind the planet-eaters at USC don't necessarily mean the Rose Bowl as the fallback position. And Cal fans must now cheer as ardently against the Utes, Broncos or whatever other top 12 team from outside the heart of the BCS can run its own table. True, the old runner-up method never helped Cal, and the even older method of winning the conference outright has evaded the Golden Bears since 1958. In that time, every school in the Pac-10 and Big Ten have reached at least one Rose Bowl - except Arizona and Indiana - and each school has reached at least twice except the aforementioned two, plus Oregon and Northwestern.  But there was always hope that with a good enough team and a great USC team, the Golden Bears would finally answer the Cal fan's bedtime prayer: One Rose Bowl Before I Die.

Now the smart money is on, well, death - if it hasn't been there already. There is, of course, another caveat here, as there usually is in the backroom-deal world of college sports: The scenario can happen only once in the life of the current BCS contract, which goes through 2014. If, say, Boise State ends up in the top 12 and the conference champion (read: USC) goes to the national title game, the Broncos could go to the Rose Bowl. But that can only happen one time before the game reverts to the old rules.

But knowing Cal's traditional buzzard's luck on this, it will happen at least once. And then the window will close again, because that, too, is the way being a Cal fan works. We'd make more of a point of Stanford's potential risk here, but the Cardinal hasn't the same grand football aspirations, and its fan base recognizes the Rose Bowl as a happy accident, as it was in 1999. With Cal fans, the agony lingers to the point of being a near-addiction, and even if the new roadblock never happens at all, the symbolism is intriguing enough.

In other words, when it's been UCLA or Washington or Arizona State, that's been annoying enough for Cal fans. When it became Miami and Nebraska and Texas and Oklahoma, it was worse, but still understandable. But to think that it could be Hawaii or TCU or Fresno State ... even as a hypothetical, it has a bilious taste to the average Cal fan.

Of course, the BCS system you all know and love needed to play with the Rose Bowl to quiet the complaints of the Utah folks who thought their boys got hosed in January. This is the minimal chicken bone it took to buy off Orrin Hatch, and it tells you how much money actually talks. The Rose Bowl opened its doors so as not to lose its turn in the national championship rotation, and the Mountain West Conference that tilted at the big windmill to get Utah its belated due got a potential slice of the Rose Bowl.

Did Cal get wronged? Not really. Big-city politics works that way, and the BCS eats when it needs to eat.

But just for laughs, consider what the Cal fan might do if in 2014 the bizarre specter of a Wisconsin-San Jose State Rose Bowl rears its head. And then call the street cleaners. It will be a very busy Sunday morning indeed.


SF Examiner: Tedford to attend Pac-10 media day

By Rob Calonge

Thursday morning, the Pac-10 will be holding their annual media day featuring all of the head coaches and each teams' top returning player.  It will be held at the Sheraton in Los Angeles.  Sorry, I won't be there. It's not that I didn't want to partake in the event, it's just that I have other responsibilities that will have me covering the Oakland Raiders at training camp for the day. Unlike last time, I'll try and not 'suck'.  I'll work on getting a moment with Nnamdi Asomugha if it's possible, but those 'moment's' aren't as easy as they might sound.

Link to rest of story.

Pac-10 Media Day Live on the Bear Insider

From the Bear Insider:

All ten Pac-10 head football coaches will be featured at a Media Day event tomorrow (Thursday) morning - along with a top returning player from each team. New Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott will also speak.  The event will take place at the Sheraton Gateway LAX Hotel - and according to the official Pac-10 press release - it will begin at 9:30 AM.  A Flash video widget has been placed on the Bear Insider front page so that you can see the event live. To do that, visit our website and click on the widget.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sports Illustrated College Football Mailbag: Even in down year, USC still looks like team to beat in Pac-10

Letter from Travis Pederson: Last year, USC needed help from Oregon in the final week of the season to reach the Rose Bowl and, after losing so much talent to the NFL, seems to be ever-so-slightly down from its lofty standards. Meanwhile, Oregon, Cal and Oregon State all look improved from last season. So is this finally the year USC's streak of Pac-10 titles comes to an end?

Stewart Mandel’s reply: It's highly unlikely the Trojans will be as dominant as last year, when they boasted a top five NFL quarterback (Mark Sanchez) and a world-class defense. Nevertheless, I still have more faith in a USC team featuring an untested QB and eight new defensive starters than in any of the teams you mentioned.

Of the three, Cal is the only one I feel reasonably certain will be improved. The Bears return the entire starting front four and secondary from the nation's 26th-ranked defense, a third-year QB (Kevin Riley) and a Heisman-caliber tailback (Jahvid Best). But not since Aaron Rodgers' 2003-04 tenure has Cal put any sort of scare into the Trojans, and we have to wonder at this point whether Jeff Tedford's otherwise successful program will ever get over that hump.

Link to rest of article.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2009 Cal Football Schedule

Here’s the current 2009 Cal Football schedule:


09/05/09 vs. Maryland  @ Berkeley - 7:00 p.m. PT

09/12/09 vs. Eastern Washington @ Berkeley - 2:30 p.m. PT

09/19/09 at Minnesota - 9:00 a.m. PT

09/26/09 at Oregon - 12:30 p.m. PT

10/03/09 vs. USC (Homecoming) @ Berkeley - 5:00 p.m. PT

10/17/09 at UCLA - TBA

10/24/09 vs. Washington State @ Berkeley, Calif. - TBA

10/31/09 at Arizona State @ Tempe - TBA

11/07/09 vs. Oregon State @ Berkeley - TBA

11/14/09 vs. Arizona @ Berkeley - TBA

11/21/09 at Stanford’s Tiny Stadium - TBA

12/05/09 at Washington - 3:30 p.m. PT


If you want to buy single season tickets, here’s the link.

Memorial Stadium Seating Rights Available to Highest Bidders

From this article in today’s Daily Cal:

“The Cal athletic department kicked off the Endowment Seating Program-a massive fundraising campaign-on January 1. The program aims to collect between $300 and 325 million dollars by selling the rights to between 40 and 50 years of priority seating at Cal football games. That money will go toward funding athletics across campus, including field hockey.  Ranging in cost from $40,000 to $225,000 per seat, each newly constructed section will include benefits from private restrooms to catered food, drinks and pregame field access.  If the UC Board of Regents votes to pass the project in September, the sale of these 3,000 seats will fund seismic upgrades for Memorial Stadium.”

SF Examiner: Bear Tracks - July 20

Soon, football camp will be in full-swing and the speculation will begin on who Tedford will select to be his starters at nearly every position on the roster.  Unfortunately, we can't just fast forward to that time. Instead, we'll have to wait until things get busy again with football, and the other sports, in order to help make those Monday mornings go by just a little faster and give us something to look forward to during the long work week. Due to technical difficulties, I'm holding on to a few articles that may be of interest.  Instead of giving you something to chew on, I did a little work for you so you don't have to go searching all on your own for something to talk about around the water cooler (do they still have those anywhere?).  Well, if it's not the water cooler, I'm sure it will be the line at Starbucks or the office coffee machine. Either way, maybe this will help.

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Former Cal Player Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme, another Gets Four Years for Rape

A bad day for Cal Football alumni.  The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that former Cal lineman Reed Diehl pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.  He was indicted on charges that he bilked a developer out of $2.5 million.  He faces 70 years in prison.  The FBI press release states:

According to a plea agreement in the case, Diehl falsely represented himself to potential clients as a banker who made "hard money loans" to businesses or individuals. Diehl also admitted that he fraudulently collected deposits for lines of credit for people who desired financing for construction and development projects in Mexico. In relation to the "hard money loans," Diehl told investors that he would pool their funds and make secured loans to individuals or businesses that had shortterm cash needs. Instead of using investor funds to make loans, he used investors' money to repay earlier investors and to fund his lifestyle.  In relation to the second part of his scheme, Diehl told victims involved in construction projects in Mexico that he could secure multimillion dollar lines of credit. Diehl told one victim that it would cost $1.175 million to secure a $24 million loan and that the deposit would be used as collateral for the line of credit. The victim eventually paid Diehl $2.5 million, money that Diehl used to pay, among others things, other people who had made investments with Diehl. None of the victims ever obtained a line of credit through Diehl.

According to this blog,

“While attending Cal, Diehl married his wife, Rachel, and they had two children. The player's ability to juggle football, family and academic duties impressed the San Francisco Chronicle, which wrote “At 6-4, 300 pounds, he is Cal's best offensive lineman and has started college games at tight end, tackle, center and guard. He has a chance to play in the NFL.  He is a husband to Rachel, the person he knew he would marry the first time he saw her, when he was 16.  He is a father to Preston, a football-crazed 4-year-old boy who wants to wear football jerseys everywhere, who loves hanging out with his father in the locker room to soak in the discussions and the atmosphere, and who has collected hundreds of the smelly wristbands and gloves discarded by players after games.  He is a father to Madison, a delightfully cute girl who has suffered through four scary bouts of pneumonia and who kisses the television screen when daddy's games are on TV.”

A very sad story all around, especially for his wife and two children.


Also making the news today was Noah Smith.  The Oakland Tribune reports that Noah Smith was convicted of rape and sentenced to four years in prison:

A former Cal football player found guilty this year of raping one student and trying to rape another was sentenced Tuesday to four years in state prison.  Ending a case that included unsubstantiated admissions of football player drug cover-ups and accusations by three other women of sexual assault by the former top high school prospect, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon sentenced Noah Smith to four years in prison instead of the 17 years sought by the county's district attorney. Smith, 23, who must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, was arrested in May 2007 after a fellow student told police the football player had forced her to give him oral sex and then raped her in her apartment during what was to be a meeting about a class. Investigations by the UC Berkeley Police Department found another woman who said Smith tried to rape her but she escaped. Smith was arrested and charged with one count of rape, one count of forced oral copulation and one count of attempted rape. During the trial, two other women stepped forward and said Smith raped them. Although they testified in the case, no separate charges were filed because they had not reported the rapes to police when they occurred and did not want to pursue criminal charges afterward. Both women told similar stories about how Smith feigned an illness that he said required him to collect and store his own sperm.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Daily Cal: Q&A with Aaron Rodgers

(Sorry for the delay in posting this)

By Katie Dowd

As the quarterback for the Cal football team in 2003-2004, Aaron Rodgers guided the Bears to two bowl games while passing for 51 touchdowns and 5,469 yards.  Rodgers was drafted in the first round by Green Bay in 2005 and is now the starting quarterback for the Packers.  After an off-season practice in Green Bay, Rodgers gave the Daily Cal a call and reminisced about his days in Berkeley and shared some of his new experiences as the Packers' quarterback.  

Katie Dowd: You might have gotten a little bit of this at Cal, but obviously you're a bigger celebrity now, especially being in such a devoted fan base. Do you get any weird requests?

Aaron Rodgers: Oh, I got a ton. I don't know how many stories you want me to give you. I've had everything from people showing up on my doorstep last season. Multiple people. I averaged about two (door) knocks per week for a while there. Just random people.

I've had parents send photo albums of their daughters out to me. Also to my parents out in California. With letters attached telling either myself or them why I should be dating their daughter. A lot of parents just trying to pawn their daughters off on me.  Also, crazy requests like one woman asked me if I would be the best man in her and her fiance's wedding. I didn't know them either. Those are some of the highlights. Or lowlights.

KD: Do you come back to Berkeley at all?

AR: I was back this spring actually for a charity event in San Francisco ... I stopped by Cal the next day and saw some of the guys. I'm buddies with Kevin Riley so I saw Kevin.

Read the rest of the article here.

ESPN: Hope and Concern: California

By Ted Miller

(Link, where there are lots of comments)

Biggest reason for hope -- A good defense and Jahvid Best.

California welcomes back eight starters from a defense that ranked second in the Pac-10 in scoring (19.9 ppg), and that doesn't include Mike Mohamed, the Bears most versatile linebacker. Particularly of note: The secondary, led by All-American cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, returns intact, and it led a pass defense that intercepted 24 passes a year ago. As for Best, he rushed for 1,580 yards last year -- averaging an eye-popping 8.1 yards per carry -- and is the West Coast's top Heisman Trophy candidate.

Biggest reason for concern -- Will the passing game improve?

California's quarterback play wasn't terrible in 2008: See 25 touchdown passes vs. 10 interceptions. But it was mediocre: See just 190 yards per game and a pass efficiency rating that ranked sixth in the Pac-10. Junior Kevin Riley won't have to share the quarterback job with Nate Longshore again this year because Longshore graduated, but coach Jeff Tedford hasn't yet anointed Riley as his starter over Brock Mansion. That's curious, and obviously a sore spot for Riley. The Bears really don't have any obvious holes, and if they are even just solid passing the ball, this could be a special season.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seattle Times: So how have first-year head coaches fared?

By Bob Condotta

The last few times I've thrown the blog open for Q-and-A's, I've gotten varying versions of questions wondering how first-year coaches have fared through the years in the Pac-10. So in an attempt to answer all of your queries on that topic, I decided I'd first list every new coach in Pac-10 history (dating to 1978, when the conference expanded to 10 teams) followed by some analysis. So here we go, with each school's coaches listed by the year they took over, their record that first season, and in parantheses, the coach and record of the previous season:



1979 Roger Theder 6-5 (Mike White 7-4)

1982 Joe Kapp 7-4 (Theder 2-9)

1987 Bruce Snyder 3-6-2 (Kapp 2-9)

1992 Keith Gilbertson 4-7 (Snyder 10-2)

1996 Steve Mariucci 6-6 (Gilbertson 3-8)

1997 Tom Holmoe 3-8 (Mariucci 6-6)

2002 Jeff Tedford 7-5 (Holmoe 1-10)

Tedford's 2002 season at Cal is obviously the greatest turnaround, and the one UW fans can cling to for hope of a massive rebound this season. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are probably as many similarities in UW's current state to Cal's in 2002 as there are to all kinds of other teams on this list that needed a few years to finally get turned around. I've pointed out before that two big differences are that the Cal team in 2002 played an easier schedule and had a more experienced team (including a senior QB in Kyle Boller) than UW will have this season. That's not trying to pour cold water on optimism, just trying to be realistic.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

An Oddsmaker's Analysis of Cal Football 2009

The following is from Jimmy Boyd’s website (link):

2009 California Football Predictions

By Jimmy Boyd

The Cal Golden Bears rode star running back Jahvid Best and a strong defense to a nine-win season in 2008. If the offense can achieve a little more balance to keep defenses guessing, USC’s may have finally met its match. Get my take in this 2009 college football betting preview. Cal is listed at +5,000 to win the 2009 BCS championship.  

Offense - Junior running back Jahvid Best led the Pac-10 in rushing despite battling nagging foot and elbow injuries. He rushed for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. His 131.7 yards per game were good for third nationally. He underwent surgery on both his foot and elbow in the offseason and is expected to be 100 percent this fall. Who knows what Best can do completely healthy? A 2,000-yard campaign may not be out of the question. And who knows what he’ll be able to do if the Bears can present a passing attack for the opposition to respect. Cal’s passing attack averaged just 189.8 yards per game through the air last season (83rd nationally). Improvement is expected from Kevin Riley after gaining valuable experience last season. He threw for 1,360 yards and had a decent 14 touchdown to six interception ratio. The wide receiver corps was unproven and inexperienced last season. While they are still largely unproven, experience was gained and that usually breeds improvement. Look for breakout seasons from Nyan Boateng and Verran Tucker. The offensive line was banged up much of last season and it loses All-American center Alex Mack, but plenty of talent remains for the Bears to boast of the best offenses in the league.

Defense – The Bears return eight starters from a unit that ranked 23rd nationally in scoring defense (19.9 points per game) and 26th in total defense (315.2 points per game). It all starts up front with bookend defensive ends Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan. This duo is considered among the best in the country and they get great help from returning nose tackle Derrick Hill on the inside. The secondary returns all four starters and is led by one of the league’s best cornerback duos in Syd’Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan. Thompson made the Pac-10 first-team following a four interception campaign. The Bears do lose three of their four starting linebackers from 2008, but I’m not expecting much of a drop off, if any. Junior Michael Mohamed is the team’s top returning tackler, making 87 stops while starting five games and backing up all four linebacker spots last season. The program is also big on sophomore Mychal Kendricks.

Prediction: 2nd Pac-10 Conference – Cal won nine games with teams stacked to stop their running attack.  With an improved passing attack to keep the opposition honest, I expect Cal to be even better. We’ll find out what the Bears are made of early as they open Pac-10 play at Oregon and then return home to play USC. If they can get one of those two and then win out, Cal could find itself in the Rose Bowl for the first time in fifty years. Cal is listed at +400 to win the Pac-10.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fan Appreciation Day

Fan Appreciation Day will be held on August 29th this year.


Sorry for the delay in updating the blog over the last two weeks.  We relocated and I’m just now back online.

SF Examiner: 4th of July Bear Tracks

By Rob Calonge

Call it a case of the summer flu, or maybe it's the summer session, but as the fourth of July nears, I find it more and more difficult to come up with anything mildly entertaining.

Normally, this feeling comes upon me much earlier in the spring, but not this year.  Now that it's finally hit me, I'm that eight-year-old boy, daydreaming in class after lunch recess, staring out the window, and hoping that the day would end soon so I could meet up with my buddies to play a heated street football game, bike tag, baseball, a pickup hoops contest, or some other game that kids used to play.

Link to rest of article.

Gainsville Sun: Cal Ranked 19th



2008 record: 9-4

Returning starters offense/defense: 7/9

Strength: As is often the case in Berkeley, the Bears should have no problem running the ball. Cal has had seven straight seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher. Expect the tradition to continue for coach Jeff Tedford with dynamic running back Jahvid Best, who averaged 8.1 yards per carry last year as a sophomore. Senior cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson leads an experienced secondary that should give opposing offenses headaches.

Weakness: Most of the defense remains intact, but Cal may not have enough quality linebackers to run a 3-4 defense after losing three to graduation (Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder). With Nate Longshore gone, quarterback Kevin Riley will need to improve to keep the Bears from becoming too predictable on offense. Riley completed just over half of his passes last season and will need consistency from his wide receivers to turn around Cal’s passing game. Nyan Boateng, a Florida transfer, is the top returning receiver with 439 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year. The Bears’ offensive line lost some leadership with the graduation of center Alex Mack. Junior Chris Guarnero will have big shoes to fill.

Biggest star: Junior Jahvid Best is already receiving some Heisman hype after his lofty numbers last season (1,580 yards, 15 TDs).

Rising star: Sophomore right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has the size (6-foot-6, 335 pounds) and skills to be the Golden Bears’ star on the offensive line.

Toughest game: Cal’s toughest game comes on Homecoming (Oct. 3) as perennial Pac-10 favorite Southern Cal visits Berkeley.

Tedford's Twitter Page

Tedford has 892 followers, but hasn’t updated it since June 10th.  Here’s the link.

SF Examiner: Golden Bears Steal Another Recruit From Washington

By Rob Calonge

Maybe 'theft' is a harsh term for what is obviously just a better job of selling.  When kids get into trouble for the tussle they've gotten into, it's common to hear the phrase, "Well, they/he/she started it."  In the case of the recruiting war going on between Cal and the University of Washington, Jeff Tedford could also make that same statement.  So could Steve Sarkisian of Washington. It was bound to happen.  Two schools within the same conference, both having a similar amount of prestige, and in close enough proximity to each other, is going to cause these sorts of rivalries off the field as well as on it.

While the Bears and the Huskies have been Pac-10 rivals for quite some time, it seems that the rivalry has heated up since former line coach Jim Michalczik accepted an offer to be the offensive coordinator of Sarkisian's "best coaching staff in the country."  Soon after, the Bears took the top defensive lineman recruit from the state of Washington, after he had verbally committed to the Huskies.  Rumors of recruits having both teams on their top lists have surfaced since, with each school getting wins over the other.

Link to rest of story.