Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Coach Jeff Tedford stands by kicker Giorgio Tavecchio

Jonathan Okanes

Eager to put the devastating 10-9 loss to Arizona behind him, Cal coach Jeff Tedford requested to speak to the media Monday so the Bears can move on to their bye week and start preparing for UCLA (Oct. 9).  Tedford knew there would be several follow-up questions about Saturday's game, and he wanted to get those out of the way immediately. Cal didn't practice Monday, but Tedford spoke with reporters at Memorial Stadium.  Cal appeared to be in control of Saturday's game until the Wildcats scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:11 remaining.

"The way it unfolded. It was a very emotional, hard-fought game," Tedford said. "It was right there for the taking, and we let it slip away. Those are always very difficult."  The Bears shut down Arizona's spread offense for most of the night, but the Wildcats forged a 77-yard drive during the game's final minutes, highlighted by a 51-yard pass play from quarterback Nick Foles to wide receiver Juron Criner. Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of Cal's previous possession that could have put the game away.

Link to rest of article.

Cal Drops Baseball From Athletic Program

Cal just announced that they will be dropping baseball, along with gymnastics, women's lacrosse, and rugby (which will still be a club sport) from the athletic program.  Yet they keep soccer (a sport primarily for kids that lack the physical ability to play football, baseball, or basketball) and golf, which is a skill, not a sport.
Baseball has been played at Cal since 1892.  38 players will have to either transfer or stop playing ball.  Send your thoughts to Birgeneau and Barbour.
Robert Birgeneau: robertjb@berkeley.edu
Sandy Barbour
athletic.director@berkeley.edu (obviously not her real address, but send a note anyway)

Monday, September 20, 2010

ESPN: One Game Doesn't Define Cal, Washington

Ted Miller

The Pac-10, in general, collected applause for a mostly distinguished performance against a rugged nine-game slate over the weekend. Then there were California and Washington. They created the need for that weak adverb -- "mostly" -- because they got their rear ends handed to them.   Both surrendered more than 50 points. Both were sliced and diced for more than 300 rushing yards. Neither showed much backbone.  Their circumstances after three games are the same. And different.

Washington entered the season with high expectations, that the program was on the cusp of returning to Pac-10 and national relevance. After an embarrassing 0-12 campaign in 2008 under Tyrone Willingham, the Huskies had gone 5-7 in 2009 under new coach Steve Sarkisian, with victories over USC and California. When quarterback Jake Locker, who might have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, announced he would be joining 19 other returning starters in the fall -- good news that preceded the signing of a nationally ranked recruiting class -- it seemed like everything was trending up for the program.   The Huskies are now 1-2 after being completely outclassed at home in a 56-21 loss to Nebraska. Locker turned in the worst performance of his career and may have severely damaged his once-soaring draft stock.

Link to rest of article.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Cal blows out UC Davis 52-3 in season opener

Jonathan Okanes

Part of the reason might have been because the opponent plays in an inferior division, but Cal freshman Keenan Allen sure made college football look easy in his debut Saturday afternoon.  Allen, who came to Berkeley out of Greesnboro, N.C., as one of the top recruits in the country, made UC Davis' defense look laughable in the Bears' season-opening 52-3 victory in front of 58,040 at sun-splashed Memorial Stadium. Allen caught four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown and added 38 yards and a score on the ground, making for one of the more memorable Cal introductions in recent memory.  "He's unreal," Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "He was making big play after big play. Everything he did today, we saw in camp. To us, it's no surprise. We expect to see a lot more of that this year."  Allen was rated as the fifth-best prospect in the country by rivals.com and made an immediate impact during training camp, earning a starting spot after just a few days. The first time he touched the ball against UC Davis came on a lateral from quarterback Kevin Riley, and Allen evaded an attempted tackle by Aggies cornerback Jonathan Calhoun en route to a 17-yard gain.  Early in the second quarter, Allen took a handoff on an end around and looked down field to pass. The intended receiver was covered, so Allen reversed field and ran 18 yards for a touchdown.

Link to rest of article.

San Francisco Chronicle: Riley, Freshman Lead Cal in Rout of UC Davis


Before folks get carried away and give the Heisman Trophy to wide receiver Keenan Allen after one game, let's see this polished Cal freshman do it against a real college football team. Poor UC Davis certainly did not qualify on that count Saturday at Memorial Stadium as the Bears made the Aggies absorb a 52-3 defeat for their $300,000 payday down Interstate 80. Allen, the prize of coach Jeff Tedford's 2010 recruiting class, dazzled 58,000 fans in his first game as he gained 158 yards and scored two touchdowns on just seven touches on offense. He also had an 18-yard kickoff return. "He's going to make plays, but you've got to think we're going to be playing better competition, so it won't be as easy," quarterback Kevin Riley said of his wunderkind teammate. "It's going to be harder against better teams."

Link to rest of article.

Daily Democrat: UC Davis has crushing experience at Cal

UC Davis' football team might not want to make another trek to Memorial Stadium for another 71 years.  The heavily favored, more athletic and talented California Golden Bears improved to 9-0 all time against the Aggies with a 52-3 rout in both teams' season openers on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 58,040. "They were better. They were much more physical," said Aggies coach Bob Biggs, who expected a tighter contest. "... They just moved us around. They controlled the O-line and D-line and made it very difficult for us to do anything offensively."  The Aggies (0-1) managed just four first downs and 81 total yards of offense.  Their defense didn't fare much better, allowing 517 yards against a well-rounded  Shane Vereen scores in the third quarter for the Bears.

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Daily Cal: Midweek Notebook: Week 1

Jack Wang

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to this year's Cal football practices - from the players' perspective, at least - has been the shift to early morning practices. Rather than running onto the field in the afternoon or evening, the team has to wake up every day by 6 a.m., and stumble up to Strawberry Canyon at around 6:45 or 7.   Having had early wake-up calls all through fall camp, the Bears haven't had too hard of a time adjusting to hiking up the sunrise-backed hills.

"I think for the most part we're doing good," linebacker Mike Mohamed said yesterday. "There's definitely some sleepy eyes in some of the morning meetings. This morning, coach (Kenwick) Thompson, linebackers coach, he cranked up the music right before the meeting just to wake everybody up."  The senior standout admits that the team probably doesn't go to sleep as early as they should. Instead of hitting the sack by the ideal 10 p.m., players will more likely stay up past midnight, as many college students would.  Coach Jeff Tedford said the change was made in order to give the Bears more time during the day; when everything on the schedule is crammed into the night, the risk of burning out players rises.

Link to rest of article.


SF Chronicle: Bears' legacy gives Vereen motivation

John Crumpacker

Call it the Stout Blue Line, although it's getting longer by the year. Are you good enough to stand with the others? Shane Vereen is eager to try, and there's every indication he belongs.  For the better part of the past decade, running backs at Cal under coach Jeff Tedford have prospered, sometimes prodigiously. Starting with his first year at Berkeley in 2002, Tedford has had an individual 1,000-yard rusher every season but one, and 2009 certainly deserves an asterisk.  Jahvid Best was headed for his second straight 1,000-yard season when a scary and spectacular injury and concussion ended his season at 867 yards. Vereen responded and gained most of his 952 yards in four starts, including career highs for yards (193) and carries (42) against Stanford.  It's Vereen's turn as the featured tailback for the Bears, starting Saturday at Memorial Stadium against UC Davis.

Link to rest of article.

Oakland Tribune: The coach with a (blue and) gold heart

Dave Newhouse

It's no surprise that George Romero's favorite colors are blue and gold. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1968, and he remains passionately loyal to his alma mater, including the Cal football team, while he fights for his life.  Romero, 64, has terminal brain cancer. But just as he's convinced that Cal can return to the Rose Bowl after 52 years, he truly thinks he can beat his medical condition despite ongoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He lives in a San Jose residential care facility. In late July, he received a phone call at a Los Gatos nursing home, where he was staying after having surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. "Mr. Romero, this is Cal football coach Jeff Tedford."

Romero figured it was Roger Buttermore, an old Pioneer High School classmate, playing a trick on him. "What the hell happened at that Oregon State game?" Romero asked. The last-second defeat to Oregon State in 2007, which cost Cal a No. 1 national ranking, remains Tedford's most crushing defeat in his eight years at Cal.  "Well, Mr. Romero, we're going to try to not let that happen again," the voice on the other end said patiently. Romero muttered, "Roger, is this you?" "Mr. Romero," the voice said, "I know you're not going to believe this, but this is Jeff Tedford." "Coach," an embarrassed Romero said, "this is the best get-well greeting that I could possibly have."

Link to rest of article.

Contra Costa Times: Shane Vereen ready to take his place among elite Cal running backs

Jonathan Okanes

When Shane Vereen came to Cal in 2007 as rivals.com's No. 5-rated running back in the country, he wasn't even the best at his position in the Bears' recruiting class that year.  Vereen arrived in Berkeley along with Jahvid Best, who went on to become one of the top tailbacks in college football and ultimately a first-round NFL draft pick by the Detroit Lions. Such is the landscape at Cal, which has spent the second part of this decade churning out elite running backs.

Bears coach Jeff Tedford, a former quarterback in the Canadian Football League, has a reputation for producing potent aerial attacks. But lately it should be for developing star running backs.   Each of the Bears' starting tailbacks since 2004 has been drafted by an NFL team. J.J. Arrington, after leading the country in rushing, was a second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. Marshawn Lynch was the 12th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, and Justin Forsett was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round in 2008. Best was taken 30th overall in April.  Now, it's Vereen's turn. The redshirt junior has flashed his ability in doses as Best's backup the past two seasons. He was the starting running back in the final four games last year after Best was injured, and for the season Vereen rushed for a team-high 952 yards, including 193 in 42 carries in Cal's win over Stanford.

Link to rest of article.


Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Tedford: 'I'm not complacent; I care'

By Lowell Cohn

It started with a phone call. Well, it actually started before the phone call, but I'll tell you about the phone call first.

It was 9:30 p.m. on Monday Aug.2, and I was upstairs reading and heard the phone ring downstairs in my office. By the time I got down there, the caller had hung up. I pressed the button on my answering machine and the caller was Cal football coach Jeff Tedford — Jeff Tedford? — asking me to phone him back no matter how late I got his message.  I knew what it was about. That afternoon Tedford had attended the Bay Area College Football Media luncheon and I had asked if he had anything to prove and he said, no. I wrote he did have something to prove and I wrote he came off complacent. The newspaper posted my column online. It could not have been there more than two hours — and here was Tedford calling.

So, I took a deep breath and phoned him back and he thanked me for calling and apologized for troubling me so late on a Monday night. As we spoke, I recalled how some other coaches might have handled this deal with anger and profanity and I remember thinking, “This is a real gentleman.”

Tedford blamed himself for misinterpreting my question — took all blame on himself — and asked if we could try again, one-on-one, at my convenience in his office. Sure. And that's why I found myself a few days ago driving up to the trailer that is the Cal football headquarters while they re-do Memorial Stadium.

Link to rest of article.