Monday, April 19, 2010


May 10, 2010

Ryan Gorcey Publisher

SAN FRANCISCO-On Monday morning, under steel-grey skies threatening rain across the Bay, one could very nearly see a preview of the 2011 Cal football season, standing on the turf at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants and-come 2011-the Bears.

"Given the announcement today, we have apropos football weather," said Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, just outside the first base dugout. "We are excited today to announce that Cal has reached an agreement with the San Francisco Giants to play our 2011 home games here at AT&T Park."

While the west side of California Memorial Stadium is being retrofitted and renovated, the Bears will have to vacate the 87-year-old venue, and have, for the past several months, been working with all three major professional sports venues in the Bay Area, and finally settled on the Giants' ball yard as the temporary home away from home. The last time that Cal took the field at the China Basin stadium was on Dec. 27, 2008, when the Bears faced off against Miami in the Emerald Bowl.

Barbour, head coach Jeff Tedford as well as Giants President-and Cal alum-Larry Baer each addressed the media, with Baer sporting a blue shirt and a gold tie. Baer led off his address with a hearty, "Go Bears!"

"I'm excited to have Cal football here for 2011," Baer said. "This has been very exciting, a couple of years in the making, as the renovations at Memorial Stadium were coming to fruition, and the plan was put together. This has been the product of a lot of hard work, and we really appreciate the careful due diligence by Sandy and her staff, and Jeff on the football side, have taken to analyze the decision and to put together this partnership.

"From our standpoint, it's the coming together of two venerable institutions, and, in many ways, for us, it's a neighborly act. We do not plan on being a football venue, long-term, every year, but certainly, if we can help out, if we can help the University of California in 2011 in a way that allows for a compelling football experience for the fans, we believe that we can offer Cal, and Cal's fans, an intimate experience, a loud experience for football and an exciting experience."

Baer mentioned that the use of a Major League Baseball stadium for football was not an unprecedented event, mentioning the use of both Shea and Yankee Stadiums for gridiron action in the past and Chicago's Wrigley Field's history of Chicago Bears games and the scheduling of a Big Ten game this fall.

"On the scheduling front, we will be honest and say that there is a possibility in October-and it's not necessarily something that we would be disappointed in-that we might have to lose a game or two if the Giants qualify for the postseason," Baer said. "But, all of that scheduling, obviously, will be determined as we play baseball in 2011. We will play up to six games of Cal football here in 2011, and we're very excited to do so."

As of now, the home schedule consists of a game against Oregon State on Sept. 24, a game against Washington State on Oct. 15, a game against Arizona on Oct. 29 and a game against USC on Nov. 12. Two out-of-conference games have yet to be scheduled.

Associated Press

The playing field will stretch from the first-base line to left field.

Playing the Field

When the 2011 season comes around, the Bears will vacate Memorial Stadium completely-offices, locker rooms and other facilities have already been moved to the Witter Rugby Field parking lot above the East Rim-and will hold practices on a newly-resurfaced Witter, along with the occasional session across the Bay.

"We hope to make this feel like home, and we're going to get over here a couple of times and have a couple of practices so the players get familiar so this feels like home, and that's important," Tedford said. "(Witter) is going to be turf, and we're finalizing that right now. I have a meeting on Thursday, and we're going to talk about the kind of turf that's going in up there and how long it's going to be there and so on and so forth. There's a lot going on back in Berkeley. We're moving our offices up into trailers; we're re-doing everything. It's exciting that there's a lot happening, and there will be some inconveniences at some turn, but it's all well-worth it."

During the season, Cal will dress in the home locker room, designed for 40 svelte major league baseball players, not the notably-larger 80-plus football players it will have to accommodate. Tedford, for his part, was not worried about space concerns.

"When we played here in the bowl game, it accommodated us pretty well, so I don't have any concerns about that," Tedford said. "We're going to be in that locker room over there (the home locker room), and that's what we did in the bowl game and it all worked fine. It didn't feel cramped or anything."

Another difference between Memorial and AT&T will be the turf itself. For the first time since 2002, Cal will play its home games on natural grass, rather than Momentum Turf.

"This stuff performs really well," Tedford said. "That's one of the questions I asked when we made our little trip out here, was how it drains and so on and so forth, if we happen to get some rain, how it's going to recover, and if you had a real bad game here, if it got tore up pretty bad, how quickly they could replace it, and they feel great about being able to do that. The field guy walked about every inch of this place with me the day that I was out here, so he was very helpful."

While in years past, the Emerald Bowl participants have had to share a sideline with the opposing team, the field of play has been tweaked to allow for two sidelines, with the Bears on the third-base side of the stadium and the visiting teams on the right-center field sideline.

"I believe that the major change will be that the teams will not share a sideline," Baer said. "The opposing teams will face each other on opposite sidelines. We'll be adding some bleachers, and so it will have a capacity of 45,000. This was a fix that was done a couple of years ago, and there will be more space between this (the left field line) end zone and the wall than there had been before."

Another aspect about the venue that had been debated was the size of the playing field, and that it had possibly been shorted by several yards to make it fit. Rest assured, Barbour said, that issue has been addressed, and the field has been "re-jiggered.".

"It will be a true 100 (yards)," Barbour said. "We have actually worked with them, with the Giants, to make some adjustments to both ends, and I know that this end (the right field corner) will be on the warning track, and we actually want to leave it warning track and not put sod over it so that receivers know exactly where they are. We have lengthened the end of the end zones."

Tedford, for his part, saw the big picture when faced with the venue decision, taking into account not only the football side of things, but the fan experience as well, an experience that, Barbour said, would serve as a bridge to what the Cal faithful can expect to see in the remodeled Memorial Stadium.

"It really was more about fan amenities, I think, and accessibility for our fans and for our students, it just felt like it was a lot closer for them to get here, and I think our experience at the bowl game had a lot to do with it," Tedford said. "The feedback from our fans (from the bowl game) was a factor, I think, as far as the experience they had on gameday. That had a lot to do with the decision to come here."

Barbour went even further, acknowledging that the 2008 Emerald Bowl, where the Bears defeated the Hurricanes 24-17, was akin to a large-scale focus group as the athletic department began to weigh options for the 2011 season.

"I think, until the Emerald Bowl, it was really difficult for us to envision what playing football here would be like," Barbour said. "Larry and I had been having discussions at that point, for at least six months or so, and that, for me, personally, and I think for us as a team, really was a, 'Yeah, this could work.' Our fans just loved it. They loved the venue, they love being in the city, they love winning."

Associated Press

AT&T Park will have a football seating capacity of 45,000.


The 45,000-seat capacity-far less than the current 72,000-seat configuration in Berkeley-will likely mean reduced allotments for opposing teams, and will also mean a premium value on tickets. However, the last few years' average of about 38,000 season tickets should fit comfortably, according to Assistant Athletic Director and media relations director Herb Benenson. Ticket sales for this year were not yet available, but Benenson was confident that the numbers would remain in the 38,000 range. Final numbers will not be available until September.

"In terms of our season-ticket holders, we believe that the 45,000 seating capacity can accommodate our current season-ticket holders," Barbour said. "It will be important to ensure seats in 2011 for our holders in 2010. One of the things that absolutely will be reduced is the visiting team allotments, as well as the various promotions and the other things that we do. Any tickets that will go on sale from a single-game standpoint will obviously be at a premium. Once we determine what that overflow is, I think we can look at other kinds of activities (around campus) that can satisfy the appetite of our fans for Cal football."

As for the Student Section, and the location of the other various sections of fans, discussions are still ongoing.

"We've begun to consider that, but at this point, having just solidified this as our venue, I think it would be premature to point those things out," Barbour said. "We're being compacted a little bit (in the Student Section). I don't have the number in my head. It is commensurate with about what student attendance has been. Having our students is very important. It's one amongst many of the reasons that we chose this venue-because we felt that it was easy for our students to jump on BART, and we'll probably do something from a transportation standpoint. It's less than what we have fully-allotted in the past, but I think it mirrors pretty well what student attendance has been."

In the vein of having AT&T being a stepping-stone to the renovated Memorial Stadium, Barbour said that the luxury suites would be available for fans come 2011.

"The full stadium is going to be available. What we have promised our Endowment Seating holders is that they would have access to the best seats in the house, wherever it was that we were going to play, and try to mimic and bridge to 2012," Barbour said. "I was in one of (the boxes) for the Emerald Bowl, and it was pretty darn good for a pretty darn good football game. From our Emerald Bowl experience, and over the next year, or not-quite year, we'll study the stadium, and we'll probably do some stuff with our fans to figure out what they consider to be the best football seats."


One of the negatives that eliminated the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum from contention was the fact that that facility hosts two professional teams-the Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Raiders.

"There were lots of pro's and con's. The Oakland Coliseum is more proximate to our campus, has a bigger capacity, but they were the one of the three where we would have to deal with two permanent tenants and juggle that logistically," Barbour said. "It was a balance. Would it have been perfect if AT&T had a larger capacity? Of course it would have. But, we'll make it work for a year."

While the Coliseum is more football-friendly, the scheduling conflicts that could ensue were, in the end, too much to navigate.

"The baseball schedule is not out, so we don't know what the turnaround time is, but we do know that we have, with George Costa and our grounds crew, we have a 24-hour turnaround, if need be," Baer said. "We can do it in 24 hours, we've done it before. We've had some football here before in-season back with the other professional leagues like the XFL, so it can be done. As the league puts together the schedule for 2011, they will look at this park like they would look at an NFL facility, and they will make scheduling combinations. But, until the schedule is out, we can't say, specifically, what the turnaround will be, but the league is well-aware of the needs, and we'll be accommodated for what we need."

Asked whether back-loading the road schedule would be a possibility, Tedford said that the program was awaiting a decision on the stadium situation before moving forward with 2011 scheduling.

"We still have a couple of open dates, which we were waiting for this to happen to kind of solidify those dates and those opponents," Tedford said. "There are a couple of things that are in the works right now that should be taken care of here pretty soon. This is the first step to get that finalized."

Ryan Gorcey

The high-definition video board at AT&T should enhance the fan experience with stats and replays.

For several seasons now, the Memorial Stadium scoreboards have been a shadow of their former selves, no longer displaying in-game yardage statistics on the right halves of the north and south boards perched atop the stands. With the 103-foot-wide high-definition video board in center field at AT&T, that could change.

"That's a big-time scoreboard, without a doubt, so I'm sure that it has the flexibility to do pretty much anything," Tedford said. "To me, that's a minor issue. They'll figure out if they have to roll in another one for scores and stats."

As to whether the renovated Memorial will have statistics available, Barbour was non-committal, but with an optimistic undertone.

"That's a technological capacity issue that there wouldn't be here," Barbour said. "It's also a philosophical one. We'll have to wrestle that one to the ground when the time comes."

The Other Contenders

The previously-mentioned Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, as well as the San Francisco 49ers' home at Candlestick Park, were both in the running along with AT&T to house the Bears in 2011.

"You look at all three venues, and they all had plusses and they all had minuses," Barbour said. "I think that (capacity) was really the only significant challenge that AT&T posed, and it was exactly that: it was a balance. It's one year, and there are two factors there: who can't come and the financial model. Both of those had to be considered."

The decrease in seating capacity was, according to Barbour, a sacrifice that had to be made.

"In the end, you have to think about the fact that it is a one-year issue," Barbour said. "We will return to California Memorial Stadium that will have a capacity north of 60,000, and we had to take all of those other things into consideration."

Reaching Out

Moving Cal football across the Bay for a season will allow for the Bears access to a fan base that had heretofore been underutilized. Playing under the lights of a major city was too attractive a prospect to pass up.

"One of the positives on the pro and con list for AT&T was an opportunity to play in a community that we don't necessarily always have a presence in, or be closer to some that we do have a connection with, and have Cal football be a part of, instead of the Bay Area community, part of the San Francisco community," Barbour said.


Perhaps the most prominent plus for AT&T Park was its accessibility via multiple avenues of transportation.

"We've got BART, we've got the light rail, we have the ferry coming in from Alameda," Baer said. "Really, this whole venture is designed to make Momo's really happy."

All joking from Baer aside in reference to the popular watering hole across the street from the ballpark, safe transit, particularly for the sudsy crowd, was high on the priority list.

"Yes, certainly, we'll have shuttles for the students, just like the Rose Bowl," Barbour said.

Coach Tedford lifts the Emerald Bowl trophy after defeating Miami on Dec. 27, 2008.

Home Away From Home

Tedford is working hard to make sure that the transition across the Bay Bridge won't affect his players too much, and said that it's not the building that makes the program, but the fans that fill it.

"We're not that far away anyway. We usually stay at the Marina (before games), and that's halfway between Memorial Stadium and here anyway," Tedford said. "I think this will definitely be considered home for us. I don't think that there's going to be any major change where the kids are going to feel discombobulated with where they are or feel like they're on the road, because they're going to have their fans here. The fans are what makes it feel like home."

The 2008 Emerald Bowl gave Tedford a feel for what home games in the new stadium would be like, and he came away with glowing reviews from that cold December night.

"The fans are right on top of you. This is shaped much differently than Memorial Stadium, which is much more spread out. These people are right on top of you," Tedford said. "Usually, I don't hear much in the stadium because I have the double headsets on, but I remember taking my headset off a couple of times during this game, and it was roaring. When we caused that fumble down there in the end zone, when (Zach) Follett hit that guy, this place was rocking. It has the ability to really get loud in here, and that's what you really want for a home field. Hopefully, the tickets are going to be at a premium for people who want to pack the house and get it going, so it'll be a great experience for all of us."

A jubilant Baer threw in his two cents, also.

"The fans will be right on top of you," Baer said to Tedford. "You'll have your back to the Bear Backers! They'll probably be able to hand you plays."

The Most Important Question

One question, the answer to which many Cal fans are sure to await with baited breath, is the question of beer sales. And they will have to wait just a bit longer, though the signs do look promising.

"The degree of the availability of alcohol has not yet been determined," smirked a coy Cal Athletic Director, Sandy Barbour. "All of that was discussed with the Giants, in terms of how we will move forward and I think it really is a true partnership in terms of how the season will go. One of the attractive parts of this was that we will have access to everything that this beautiful stadium has to offer."

Baer said that he has seen the plans for the Memorial Stadium renovations helped with the organization of concessions and stadium amenities.

"It's really our goal to simulate that experience here in 2011, so that Cal fans can take a step towards what they're going to be experiencing in 2012 and beyond," Baer said. "All the amenities-the concessions, the customer service, everything that we try so hard to do-we're going to make sure is up to par with the expectations for the new stadium, come 2012."

Cal Football Hosts Annual Spring Open Practice

Bright spots on both sides of the ball and special teams for Golden Bears.

April 17, 2010

BERKELEY - Both sides of the ball had bright spots when the Cal football team hosted its annual spring open practice on a beautiful morning under clear skies at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. An estimated crowd of 3,000 enjoyed a rare opportunity to take in a Cal football practice. The event was presented by Peterson Tractor as part of the Cal Day festivities that take place on campus each April.

Isi Sofele led the ground game, rushing eight times for 51 yards. DeBoskie-Johnson notched 28 yards on nine carries, while Yarnway also had nine carries and gained 22 yards. Eric Stephens rumbled 43 yards on his only carry, while Trajuan Briggs and Langston Jackson both had three rushes for 19 yards.

Cal opens its 2010 season vs. UC Davis on Saturday, Sept. 4. The upcoming campaign will be the final year with the current configuration of Memorial Stadium and also includes visits from Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Washington during a seven-game home schedule.
California 2010 Football Schedule

Day, Date - Opponent (Time, TV)

Sat., Sept. 4 - UC Davis (TBA)

Sat., Sept. 11 - Colorado (TBA)

Fri., Sept. 17 - at Nevada (7 p.m. PT, ESPN2)

*Sat., Sept. 25 - at Arizona (TBA)

*Sat., Oct. 9 - UCLA (TBA)

*Sat., Oct. 16 - at USC (TBA)

*Sat., Oct. 23 - Arizona State (TBA)

*Sat., Oct. 30 - at Oregon State (TBA)

*Sat., Nov. 6 - at Washington State (TBA)

*Sat., Nov. 13 - Oregon (TBA)

*Sat., Nov. 20 - Stanford (TBA)

*Sat., Nov. 27 - Washington (TBA)
April 17 2010

Bears Put on a Show for Cal Day Crowd

Ryan Gorcey Publisher

BERKELEY-Now, we're even.

That declaration on the part of the Cal football team's offense was made loud and clear on Saturday, as the Bears offense put on a show for the Cal Day crowd, tallying seven touchdowns and two field goals and getting the better of the defense for the first time this spring.

"Since our last scrimmage Saturday, and today, that's when we've really started picking it up," said quarterback Kevin Riley. "Before that, the offense was getting our ass kicked. We couldn't do anything. But, the O-line picked it up big-time, and they're picking up these looks and we can execute plays better and the offense is getting more comfortable with both of us (quarterbacks), and that confidence helps us play better."

The bulk of the running back work went to Sofele, who ran nine times for 56 yards despite a barking hip.

"Isi's been playing with a hip pointer," Tedford said. "Hip pointers are very, very painful, and so it was nice to see him step out a little bit today and make a couple runs. He's been playing with a hip pointer for about a week and a half now." The next most prolific back was Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson, who, before talking about his day, took time to sing the praises of Sofele. "He makes plays. When it comes down to it, Isi Sofele makes plays," Deboskie-Johnson said. "There are always negatives with people, but when it comes to him, at the end of the day, he makes plays. That's all I've got to say about him, I mean, you all saw him. That's Isi."

Deboskie-Johnson carried the rock eight times for 17 yards. Deboskie-Johnson also had two catches for 13 yards despite the precautionary cast on his now-healed right wrist. The Arizona native suffered a minor fracture at the beginning of last year, and playing the whole season caused ligament damage. Though it healed before spring ball started, the staff had him wear a temporary cast as a precaution.

"Man, this cast is like my new hand now," Deboskie-Johnson laughed. "I did it all last season in practice, so the cast's like second-nature to me now." Asked as to whether playing without the cast would feel strange now, Deboskie-Johnson couldn't have been more adamant in his desire to get the darn thing off. "Um, no!" he said playfully. "I'm going to be so happy when I get this thing off. I can't wait until I can just hold the ball in my right hand again, and stiff someone with my left arm." Dasarte Yarnway saw action mostly in short-yardage situations, utilizing his powerful, bruising running style for 27 yards on seven attempts, including two touchdowns.

Most impressive, though, was Langston Jackson, who carried the ball three times for 21 yards and looks like a dark horse candidate to get at least some meaningful snaps next season.
Dennis Johnson Elected to Hoops Hall of Fame

Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information

Release: 04/05/2010
ESPN Boston Story on Dennis Johnson

Courtesy: Pepperdine Athletics
MALIBU, Calif. - The late Dennis Johnson, a one-time Pepperdine standout and former NBA great, received basketball's highest honor on Monday when it was announced that he has been elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2010 - which also includes Jerry Buss, Cynthia Cooper, Bob Hurley Sr., Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Gus Johnson, Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira and the 1960 and 1992 USA Olympic basketball teams - will be inducted on August 13 in Springfield, Mass.
Johnson spent two years at Harbor Junior College before transferring to Pepperdine for the 1975-76 school year, and as a starting guard he helped lead the Waves to one of their most successful seasons in school history. As a junior, he was second on the team with 15.7 points while also averaging 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists and was named to the All-West Coast Athletic Conference first team. He helped Pepperdine to a 22-6 record, first place in the WCAC and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Waves defeated Memphis in the first round before losing to UCLA in the regional semifinals. Pepperdine ranked #20 in the final Associated Press poll that year.
He bypassed his senior year to turn professional, and was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the second round of the 1976 NBA Draft (29th overall). He played with Seattle for four seasons (1977-80) and was the MVP of the 1979 NBA Finals as the Sonics won the championship. He went on to play with the Phoenix Suns for three seasons (1981-83) and is probably best remembered for his seven-season tenure with the Boston Celtics (1984-90). He won two more NBA titles with the Celtics (1984 and 1986) as the starting point guard.
Johnson was voted onto five All-Star teams, and made one All-NBA first team (1981) and one All-NBA second team (1980). Known as one of the league's top defensive stoppers, he was selected to nine consecutive All-Defensive first or second teams from 1979-87.
In 1,100 games over his 14-year career, Johnson scored 15,535 points, grabbed 4,249 rebounds and passed out 5,499 assists, equating to career averages of 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. At his retirement, Johnson was only the 11th NBA player to amass more than 15,000 points and 5,000 assists.
The Celtics would retire his #3 jersey in 1991. At one time, Larry Bird called Johnson the best teammate he ever had. Johnson went into coaching after his playing days and at one point served as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He was the head coach of the Austin Toros in the NBA Development League when he passed away on February 22, 2007, at the age of 52. Johnson was inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981. More information on the enshrinement ceremony can be found at

Men's Basketball Signs 7-Footer Jan Maehlen

Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Release: 04/19/2010

MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's basketball team's frontline just got a lot bigger as the Waves have signed 7-foot, 330-pound Jan Maehlen to a national letter-of-intent, head coach Tom Asbury announced today. Maehlen attends Ironwood Ridge High School in Tucson, Ariz., and will be a freshman for Pepperdine in the 2010-11 season.
"Jan can get the ball and score with his back to the basket," Asbury said. "He's got a good feel for the game. He's a better athlete than his body shows. With the low post offensive production we've had, he could be a featured player. We'll see him come in and play as a freshman. He'll be a big contributor, we just don't know how soon. He's a smart kid and a very serious student, and he fits in well with the other players we've got."

Maehlen bears a certain resemblance to former Santa Clara big man and 2009 West Coast Conference Player of the Year John Bryant, and the Waves' coaching staff hopes that Maehlen's career can have a similar trajectory as he gets into shape.

"We hope it plays out that way," Asbury said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he gets more playing time than John Bryant did early in his career. We hope Jan is as good as we anticipate. His weight, conditioning and diet will be huge. He's a little heavier than he needs to be. He needs to lose about 25 pounds to be effective. We think he'll be at his best around 290 pounds."

Maehlen averaged around 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for Ironwood Ridge as a senior and shot 57% from the field. His best scoring game was 29 points against Tucson High School. He was named to the Arizona Republic's 5A all-state honorable mention squad while also earning all-league and all-region first team honors. The Nighthawks went 22-9, won their league title and made the quarterfinals of Arizona's 5A Division II Tournament.

Maehlen was born in Germany but moved to Indiana with his family at the age of 8, and only after that did he begin playing the game. He attended basketball powerhouse Lawrence North High School of Indianapolis, but because of a glut of Division I prospects on that team, he spent most of his junior season on the junior varsity. Due to his father's job, his family moved to Tucson prior to his senior year.

"Jan's best days are ahead of him," Ironwood Ridge Coach Brian Peabody said. "As he keeps the weight off and gets in better shape, the sky's the limit. Being under Pepperdine's care will do him a world of good. Give him a couple of years at Pepperdine and he'll reach his potential. He's very knowledgeable, very smart, and anything you try to teach him, he picks it up. A lot of big men have trouble with that. He knows the game inside and out and he knows where to be offensively and defensively.

"He was at a really good high school (in Indiana) with nine D-1 guys in front of him and never got thrown the ball. We did exactly the opposite. We played him every minute and threw him the ball inside every time down the floor. He made great strides in a short amount of time. To see him at the beginning of the season to a few months later, you wouldn't have recognized him. He understands the game very well. The only thing holding him back right now is his conditioning."

Maehlen is looking forward to becoming a Wave. "It's the combination of everything," he said. "The coaches are great. I really liked the players I met. The facilities are nice. From an academic standpoint, it's an amazing place. So it's the combination of everything I wanted that makes this a perfect place for me. I want to be a valuable part of the team. I want to help take this team as far as it can go. I'm going to work as hard as I can to do that."

Saturday, April 10, 2010


California Team Report

Yahoo! Sports

Mar 25, 1:40 am EDT

Entering 2010, expectations will be lower than they were for 2009, and that might be a good thing for the Bears. Cal failed to match its potential last season in a disappointing 8-5 season.
Because Cal achieved less than its talent should have afforded, coach Jeff Tedford is focusing as much on individual toughness as he is on schemes and position changes this spring.

After reviewing the up-and-down 2009 season, which began with three encouraging wins and thoughts of a Rose Bowl and ended with two discouraging losses and a sixth-place finish, Tedford decided the Bears players just did not compete hard enough in their one-on-one battles with opponents. And to win as a team, you have to win key individual matchups.
Toward that end, Tedford is making nearly everything a competition this spring, whether on-campus scavenger hunts, or rewards and penalties for performance in one-on-one drills in practice. The team just needs to be better at beating the man across the line, which means more scratching and clawing and toughness to get every individual advantage.

In that vein, Tedford has opened up the competition for the starting quarterback spot, even though Kevin Riley will be back after starting all 13 games last season. Riley admittedly was inconsistent last season, often faltering when opposing defenses mounted a pass rush, and the Bears’ success and failure seemed to correlate directly with how well Riley played. Tedford hopes that making Riley compete to hold on to his job will translate into a better competitiveness in each game during the 2010 season.

The departure of Jahvid Best to the NFL is the loss that gets the most attention, but with Shane Vereen back to capably fill the tailback spot, the more significant losses were defensive end Tyson Alualu and cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson.

In fact, the defense in general is the biggest issue for Cal this spring. This will be the first spring under Tedford in which Bob Gregory will not be the defensive coordinator. Gregory left in February, reportedly for personal reasons, and joined to staff at Nevada, and Tedford hired Clancy Pendergast, who was the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator when they went to the Super Bowl two years ago.

He has the chore of improving a defense that did a poor job of defending the pass last season, and he will have to do it despite the loss of Cal’s best cover man (Thompson) and best pass-rusher (Alualu). Two things about Pendergast make him a good fit. First of all, he has a reputation for working well with defensive backs, and the Bears’ secondary, which was problem last season, faces even greater challenges now. Second, Pendergast employs a more attacking style of defense than Gregory did, and Tedford had suggested often last season that Cal needed to put more pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Pendergast also needs to find several new linebackers for the 3-4 defense, and he might have to wait until next fall and the arrival of some highly-rated freshmen to find some starters there.

Adjusting to a new defensive coordinator will be a major aspect of spring practice, which is split into two segments. The first segment of five practices ended March 19, and the second session, following spring break, will begin March 30.

Spring Objectives: Although four starters in the offensive line return, there will be a lot of juggling of positions to find the best positions for each. Matt Summers-Gavin, for example, was a starting right guard last season, but has spent some of spring playing left tackle.

The quarterback position is the one that is most in need of improvement, and Kevin Riley will have to fight to retain his No. 1 spot in competition with No. 2 quarterback Beau Sweeney and No. 3 Brock Mansion. Even if Riley wins that battle as expected, he needs to improve his mechanics and his ability to perform in the face of a pass rush.

On defense the battle for the two cornerback spots will be heated and significant. Cal would love for Darian Hagan to re-emerge as a starting cornerback after he won the job at the beginning of last season. But his playing time declined as the season wore on as his on-field play worsened and his off-field actions retarded his progress. Josh Hill and Bryant Nnabufie began the spring as the starting corners, but neither is secure in his position. Opponents simply hammered the side opposite Thompson all season long, and none of the other corners reacted well to the ball in the air.

Three of the four linebacker spots are open around inside backer Mike Mohamed, and any one of a number of players are fighting for those spots. That competition will continue into the fall.
Finding a new starting fullback and backups at wide receiver and tailback are also significant issues, but not as significant as the concerns at defensive back.

Building Blocks: Shane Vereen showed his value when he started the final four games of the season after Jahvid Best sustained a concussion. In fact, some believe the Bears were better with Vereen as their No. 1 tailback. He averaged 141.5 yards over those four games, and showed durability as well.

Kevin Riley showed flashes of being a good Pac-10 quarterback, but he also had days in which he gave games away. He has the tools, and the Bears are hoping it all falls into place in his senior season. The team’s success will depend on how well Riley performs. In any case, he will need to produce a lot of points, because the defense is likely to be young, inconsistent and vulnerable.

Inside linebacker Mike Mohamed was an all-conference player last season and led the Pac-10 in tackles. A versatile player who can stop the run, get a sack or intercept a pass, Mohamed’s best attribute is his intuition and a ability to make big plays, something the bears need more. But he will be surrounded by inexperienced linebackers.

DE Cameron Jones has the look of a star, and he could be as dominating as Tyson Alualu was last season if things fall into place. For one thing, the Bears need to do something to prevent Jones from being double teamed as much as he was last season. That will require production from the outside linebackers, and that position is unsettled.

Safety Sean Cattouse needs to act as the anchor for a secondary, which is the key to the defense but which also has serious questions at both cornerback spots.

Quote To Note: “Something needs to happen. I need to play better for us to win games. (Coach Jeff Tedford) is just giving the other guys an opportunity if I don’t step up. It definitely keeps me motivated.”—QB Kevin Riley, to the Contra Costa Times, about understanding why he has to win his job again despite starting all 13 games in 2009.


2010 Outlook: Cal should be able to score points if QB Kevin Riley improves his consistency. But with all the questions on defense, including a new defensive coordinator, it appears the Bears will be expected to finish in the middle of the Pac-10 and are unlikely to get a preseason ranking. The Bears are expecting a lot from their highly-rated recruiting class, and several of those players could be starters by the end of next season. If they can fill a number of holes, the Bears could exceed expectations, but the problems in the secondary probably preclude a conference title. The most significant of the Cal schedule changes for 2010 was moving the game against Stanford from Dec. 4 to Nov. 20.

Top Newcomers:

RB Trajuan Briggs—A freshman who enrolled at Cal during the winter, Briggs de-committed from USC late in the recruiting process before signing with Cal. The Bears like to use two tailbacks and the competition for the second running back behind Shane Vereen is wide open. Some say Briggs reminds them of Marshawn Lynch, but Briggs is not as big as Lynch yet.

RB Dasartay Yarnway—The highly regarded back redshirted 2009 as a freshman because of injuries, but he should get playing time in 2010.

Roster Report:

• RB Shane Vereen was pretty beat up after last season, and is not expected to get much work in the spring. He came out of the season with a meniscus tear in his knee as well as shoulder and rib problems.

Running Backs

Coach - Ron Gould

Trajuan Briggs (Fr., TB), Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (Jr., TB), Nico Dumont (RFr., FB), Will Kapp (Jr., FB), Isi Sofele (So., TB), Eric Stevens (So., FB), John Tyndall (Jr., FB), Shane Vereen (Jr., TB), Dasarte Yarnway (RFr., TB), Langston Jackson

The Bears lost both of their 2009 backfield starters with the departures of TB Jahvid Best and FB Brian Holley but are confident they can replace the productive duo. Best started 19 of the 31 contests he competed in during three seasons at Cal. He earned a second-team All-American selection by College Football News and the second of his two first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a 2008 sophomore when he rushed for 1,580 yards (No. 2 on Cal's single-season list) and a school-record-tying 15 rushing touchdowns. He finished his career ranked tied for third on Cal's all-time list for rushing TDs (29), as well as tied for fourth in total TDs (39) and seventh in rushing yards (2,668).

Shane Vereen, who started the final four games last season after Best suffered a season-ending injury against Oregon State on Nov. 7, is most likely his heir apparent at tailback. Vereen earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors last season despite coming off the bench to spell Best for most of the season's first nine games. He finished as the team's leading rusher with 952 yards on 183 carries (5.2 ypr) and equaled Best's 12 rushing touchdowns. Vereen had a career day to lead the Bears to a Big Game win at Stanford, carrying the ball 42 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 566 yards on 108 carries after taking as the team's starter.

Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (31 rushes, 226 yards, 1 TD) and Isi Sofele (12 rushes, 82 yards, 1 TD) saw limited action in 2009 but are expected to compete for a spot alongside Vereen for a Cal rushing attack that has traditionally shared the bulk of the workload between two tailbacks. Trajuan Briggs, Langston Jackson and Dasarte Yarnway are the team's other tailbacks this spring and should get a good look with one of Tedford's primary spring goals developing a complimentary player to Vereen. Both Briggs and Yarnway missed their respective 2009 seasons with injuries, with the early enrollee Briggs going down with an ankle injury in an early season prep game and Yarnway suffering a knee injury during training camp of his true freshmen season.

Pepperdine picks up pieces and rebuilds

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010

The men’s basketball team is looking for a fresh start with familiar faces this summer, and really, the only way is up.
After a dismal two-and-a-half months of West Coast Conference (WCC) play, in which the young Waves (7-24, 3-11) lost their last 12 games by an average of 17.8 points a contest, the season mercifully came to an end. They suffered defeat in their first-round WCC Tournament game, a lost to rival Loyola Marymount, 87-84.

“We were extremely disappointed in how some of the older, veteran guys finished the season,” Associate Head Coach Marty Wilson said. “We should have shot the ball and defended better in terms of one-on-one matchups. It was individual pride that let us down at the end of the season.”

According to, a top and influential basketball rating Web site, Pepperdine finished the season ranked 289th out of a possible 347 teams this season. The Waves were near the bottom in turnover ratio, effective defensive field goal percentage (both 330th) and effective offensive field goal percentage (322th). Pepperdine was also one of the youngest teams in Division I (318th).

As a team, the Waves shot 39.4 percent for the year and 34 percent from three-point range— although a 1 percent improvement from last year, good only for last place in the WCC.

“We didn’t use the ‘youth’ excuse this year,” Wilson said. “It was more inexperience than anything else on our team.”

There were some post-season bright spots. Sophomore guard Keion Bell had one of the better statistical seasons for the Waves in recent memory, averaging 18.3 points, five rebounds and 3.2 assists in all 31 games this season. Those numbers were good enough for an All-WCC honorable mention, along with junior swingman Mychel Thompson.

Playing abroad and summer plans

The Waves will travel to Italy for 10 days at the beginning of May to start the summer offseason program. Basketball programs are allowed a trip overseas every four years— the Vance Walberg-led Waves took a trip to Switzerland in 2006. The team also gets an extra 10 practice days to prepare for the trip, which will be a good gauge for where the team is to start the offseason, Wilson said.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good taste of competition with some of the older teams [in Italy],” Wilson said. “It will be a good experience for us to practice before and get back on the court.”

After the trip, most players will stay close to campus and enroll in summer school, Wilson said. While the coaches cannot directly work with the players, they will still have specific offseason workout plans and basketball drills the coaches can monitor.

“This offseason, we need to get tougher mentally, individually and as a team,” Wilson said. “We focused a lot on getting physically stronger last summer, but we need to change the team’s mindset so that everything is competitive.”

A majority of the players will also compete in one of two Los Angeles-based college summer leagues. Last summer, Bell led one of the leagues in scoring, while Thompson and sophomore guard Lorne Jackson also performed well.
The leagues only allow two same-college players per team, and the usually high-scoring games feature very little defense, Wilson said.
“The summer leagues are both good and bad for our guys,” Wilson said. “It’s a five-on-five game of one-on-one.”

‘Harold’-ed recruit

The Waves are returning every player from last season, so only one new face can join them, and it’s a good one. Six-foot-7 Pasadena native Hector Harold committed to the Waves early on in his senior year. Harold is a top-50 small forward in the 2010 class, according to recruiting Web sites Scouts, Inc. and
“[Harold] is a very good all-around player,” Wilson said. “He’s not great at anything but very good [at] everything.”

Harold played his final two years of high school back East at Northfield Mount Hermon High School, a preparatory school in Connecticut, where he averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game. “The fact that he is from Southern California made it easy for us to get him,” Wilson said. “He wanted to be close to home and out of the snow back east.”

Offensive lineman Langston Walker re-signs with Oakland Raiders

By Steve Corkran

Oakland Tribune

Posted: 04/02/2010 08:20:35 PM PDT

The Raiders brought back offensive lineman Langston Walker on Friday in a move that gives coach Tom Cable another option to replace Cornell Green at right tackle.Walker, 30, joined the Raiders on Oct. 14 after being released by Buffalo and appeared in seven games.

Walker, 6-foot-8 and 365 pounds, was selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft and started 33 games through the 2007 season. He spent the 2008 and '09 seasons with the Bills.

Walker, a graduate of Bishop O'Dowd High and Cal, is expected to compete for the vacancy created by Green signing with the Bills along with Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears.