ragnarok: When we last left you, Coach Jeff Tedford had given a short talk on the state of the Cal Football program. Nothing earth-shattering, but still some interesting tidbits here and there, and those in attendance would still get a chance to pry a few more bits loose during the Q+A session, still to come.
TwistNHook: But first, Coach Mike Montgomery. He is a straight shooter and LOVES to joke around. He kinda made fun of Coach McKeever. She had made the National Championship out to be this sort of unexpected, humble experience. Like "Hey, y'know, let's just go and swim and see what happens and hey, woah, we won a national championship, that was cool. Go Bears!" Coach Montgomery was all "Hey, let's have some fun and hey maybe we could finish 64th. Y'know if we lose this first one here." Funny stuff.
One interesting point was when Monty compared Randle to Brevin Knight and said that a lot of people had been saying "Whats wrong with Randle? How are you going to fix Randle?" when he got here last year. He said he wanted to give Jerome Randle the chance to be himself out there. Not have a quick hook that might ruin the "Randle-ness." But still let him know that he (Montgomery) knew when Randle was making mistakes, so that they were on the same page. Whatever Monty did, it worked. Randle improved a thousand-fold and was a much different player. He spoke about how Randle had to fight for all his opportunities and had a real toughness.
Monty said he knew Wilkes was leaving before the start of the year, which is why he gave out a scholarship he didn't have at the time.
ragnarok: Indeed, Monty also seemed really pleased that Jordan was finally able to get out there and have a good final year. Not a great year, but he did some nice things, and was able to graduate feeling good about his basketball career, which was apparently something that was in doubt before this past year.
Finding a real presence inside is still the big question with this team. Monty was surprisingly candid, even for him, about the two new bigs coming in: "They're not great."
TwistNHook: HERESY AGAINST BAK BAK!!!!!! PRAISE BE TO BAK BAK!!
ragnarok: Hold up, hold up! He also said they had a lot of room to grow, but could do some nice things, and while they may not push for starter's minutes right away, they will definitely help fill space in the middle, which should hopefully help free up the shooters outside. Still, he did say that if we're going to have a real presence in the middle next season, it's probably going to because Harper Kamp is healthy; he's the key guy for us.
TwistNHook: He said that there was some information to give about health updates. Robertson had surgery on his hip, but his other hip. Kamp has something called a "lateral release" which sounds like something from Cirque du Soleil. And Jorge had meniscus taken out. All surgeries were successful, so that's good.
Monty had some interesting comments about spring practices. He said that there were some kids who didn't play much during the course of the year. They were not happy about it. They had been told a LOT of things during their recruitment about how great they were, and now that they're on campus, it's taken a while for reality to set in. Of course, he's talking about Braun there. He said that these players, who he never named, didn't know what hard work was. But now they seem to get it. So, I'm not sure who, in specific, he is talking about, but you can read between the lines here. Coach Montgomery must REALLY hate Max Zhang. ;)!!!
He then proceeded to use a "Not" joke in a non-ironic sense and get a REALLY solid laugh. I can only assume, because the audience was like 80% old people. Seriously, it was either old people or their kids. The number of 20-somethings was minimal. Not sure what that means.
He had a few funny stories. One was about a player of his who wanted to be an engineer. They took him to the engineering school and the people there were so confused. They'd never had a b-ball player want to be an engineer. That's Berkeley for ya!
He also talked about how they had a recruit on campus. This recruit's parents had had concerns about Berkeley being "too" liberal. So, they had tried to keep this guy from seeing too much insanity. So, of course a HUGE protest meanders right by them. And then some random dude starts screaming about seeing King Kong. It was pretty funny stuff.
He had a funny bit about getting a new practice site. They had looked at a place, but there was a tree there. So, they were moving on. Big laughs. So ya, Monty's a funny guy.
Then it was time for the Q+A:
To be honest, my brain hurt from writing so much and pretending to know what I was talking about. So, I wanted to take a break and go sit down.
HydroTech: Well, then, maybe you can take a break and go sit down right now! I got the information from Tedford from the Q+A.
Regarding a college football playoff system, Tedford said he would be for one if someone could think of a good one. But other than that, he said the BCS was working fine. He suggested if there was a playoff that 8 teams would be the ideal number. Finally, he added nobody is going to be happy with any system.
Tedford described Best as "special."
Tedford said Alex Lagemann was one of the top 5th or 6th guy at WR.
In regards to TEs being covered over the middle (last year), he attributes that to good defense.
In regards to the OL, he hopes we stay healthy this year. Last year we lost 5 scholarship OL players to season ending injuries. Donovan Edwards has a lot more experience this year. In total, we have a lot more depth this year too. Tedford is happy to have Tepper back and reinforced the fact that he was an All-Conference player.
In regards to incoming recruit Iso Sofele, he is 5'7" and "very explosive." Tedford said he will play at RB or slot WR, however, he's unsure if he'll break the starting lineup at those positions this year. Instead, Tedford said you'll probably see him at kick returner. Tedford said he's similar to the San Diego Charger's Darren Sprouls, and like that Oregon State freshman runningback (Tedford couldn't recall the name... must not be that good of a player). Sofele is "physical" player and can "catch the ball."
ragnarok: Indeed. However the Bears end up using Sofele, Tedford did say that "it will be hard to keep him off the field."
Then Tedford was asked about future scheduling. He mentioned the upcoming series with Ohio State, which we've known about for years now. However, he also mentioned that there was something with Texas "down the road". Although not everyone I talked to agreed with me, it sounded to Hydro and me like there was something still in the works, as though this was something that could or will happen.
HydroTech: Perhaps, it was unclear. An attempt to schedule Michigan "fell through." Not sure if that would have been for this year, and that's why we had to scramble to get Eastern Washington. Tedford did say that he doesn't want to play too many good teams and prefers A, B, C scheduling. He stressed he always wants a home-home series, and that they're "not interested" in playing somebody without a return game. In regards to a suggestion that we play Notre Dame, Sandy Barbour, who used to work for Notre Dame, added, "The Irish are afraid."
TwistNHook: Hydro, that's all great stuff, but you missed the best part. Remember when that most luminous, most facially attractive, unbelievably hilarious dude asked this amazingly incredible question about Patrick Christopher's poetry. WHAT A QUESTION! It truly blew my mind.
Monty didn't really answer it specifically, but did explain to the crowd what I, I mean, that really awesome Hebrew meant by the question. Talked about how well-rounded his athletes are. So Berkeley!
There was also that question about Jorge Gutierrez, about what he meant to the team. He talked a bit about Jorge's recruitment. Basically about how Garrett Sim (who he didn't mention by name) had tried to back out when Braun left. As in, the kid committed to Cal in the Fall when the Bears were the only major program to offer him, but in the Spring, his hometown Ducks took another look, and he used Braun's departure as an excuse to get out of his letter of intent. They tried to fight it, but then realized that there wasn't much point if the kid didn't really want to be there. So, they had an extra scholarship to hand out.
And then they scrambled to look to try to find somebody, anybody. Finding Jorge was a diamond in the rough. All of the people he played with or against said the same thing, not the most skilled guy, but he works his ass off. And that's why he was crying after the Maryland game. Because he is so passionate about the game. And also about how he can really change the game by inspiring his teammates.
ragnarok: Yeah, Monty definitely touched on the fact that Jorge took the loss to Maryland the hardest. The key quote that I loved about him was Monty saying "he just doesn't understand why everybody else doesn't play as hard as he does." If he can inspire the rest of the team like this as a true freshman, think what he'll be able to do leading a team as an upperclassman.
TwistNHook: I would like to note that Monty literally said "We got lucky on Jorge." And again implied that there were some people on his team that didn't work hard when he said that Jorge was so confused when he saw people who didn't work as hard as he did. So, interesting stuff. Monty is very open.
ragnarok: That was most of the interesting stuff. Someone asked a question about the baseball facilities, and Sandy said that the baseball facilities were one of a number that Athletics was looking into upgrading down the road. So, nothing going on right now on that front, and I personally wonder how much momentum there is for a baseball program that continues to sort of languish in the middle of the Pac-10.
TwistNHook: With Q+A finished, there was a raffle. A cute kid won the football. I didn't get the best photo, but he high-fived everybody on stage and then yelled GO BEARS!
I saw Tedford laughing with him later (or at least I think it was him, it might have been another cute kid). Tedford has a good way with kids. He also joked to the crowd about "recruting 'em young". He's no Monty, but Tedford has a bit of wit about him, too.
Then, the talking session was over. And the shmoozing began. Lord knows I lurve to shmooze. I first sort of wandered aimlessly towards Coach McKeever. I had no idea what to say to her, so I just congratulated her on her fine accomplishments. Then, some random dude walked up in mid-conversation and told me I had dropped a piece of paper on the ground. I didn't believe I did.
So, after he walked off, I loudly accused him of calling me a lying liar and making up lies about me. It was unclear whether she found it funny. Unclear.
Then, it was my big moment. I was ready to shmooze Sandy. Sandy B! We had planned this moment for months. Time to try to drop some knowledge, drop some names, and maybe, just maybe get a card into her hand. A card? Yes!
Now, I had spoken with OskiWeeWee beforehand and she can make nice nice with Sandy. So, I had asked her to introduce me to Sandy. But she got into this conversation and no amount of screaming "GET OUT OF THE CONVERSATION, OSKIWEEWEE" in my head seemed to get her out.
So, I had to go in cold.
That can be tough sometimes. But I had worked on my spiel. And there is another connection to Sandy B. through my wife, which is somewhat tenuous. But better than nothing, right? I went that route, then started to work the Jewish mother angle. "I'm so happy to know we have an AD who bleeds as much blue and gold as you. And I know that somebody who bleeds as much blue and gold as you would want to take advantage of every opportunity to promote Cal." I came really close to wishing she'd settle down with a nice Jewish doctor. But I managed to hold off.
I assured her that there were a lot of shmucks out there in the new media, but we weren't one of them. Ok, I admitted I was a shmuck, but did try to minimize my shmucktitude online. I predict strongly NONE of this will work. But, hey, gotta hustle, right? I even got one of our new ALL CLASSY AND PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS CARDS into her hands. It was so classy and professional! Notice it is in her hand there.
So, there you go. Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle.
Then, I accused Coach Montgomery of being a bad Jew for eating pork. OK, so one step forward, one million steps back. I saw Monty scarfing down some of the food and told him to steer clear of the pork. He told me he wasn't Jewish. But he did respond to me later in the night when I yelled "SHABBAT SHALOM" at him on the way out. So, I'm getting conflicting reports here.
YHWH, Montgomery must hate me.
Of course, by now the line for Tedford had calmed down a bit. Hydro had been waiting to chat with him for a while, so I snuck into line with him. Hydro started off with all this serious, important stuff like how "2002 really changed Cal football for him" and stuff like that. So important and serious. Bla! I was hoping Tedford would recognize him, too, but he didn't seem to.
Then, we decided to change the subject and ask if that REALLY was Coach Tedford on the Twitter. He said it was him! Problem solved! But he didn't seem to know what was going on with it. I told him that Pete Carroll did it and that he needed to beat Pete Carroll at Twitter! I came INCREDIBLY close to saying something like "Maybe you can finally beat Carroll at something again." But, stunningly, incredibly, unbelievably, incomprelievably, I managed to somehow not speak something that popped into my head. It took pretty much every muscle in my body going into "STOP IMMEDIATELY" mode and I blacked out for about 35 seconds there, but I managed it. SO PROUD OF MYSELF!
Then, I proceeded to tell Tedford about how important it was to get on Twitter. Because I heard that some people (some people!) had created fake Twitter accounts for other head coaches. What?!??! Like Jim Harbaugh and Rick Neuheezy. He was surprised to hear this, but, unfortunately, I didn't have any other information about these fake head coaches, because certainly it's not me making up these fake Twitter accounts.
Tedford said he'd twitter about meeting HydroTech and myself at the Coaches Tour. I'm pretty sure that's what he meant with this tweet:
Nice turnout in Pleasant Hill last night for the coaches’ tour ... http://www.calbears.com/coa.... Great seeing everyone.
Yes, HydroTech and myself do constitute a nice turnout. And yes, it was great seeing you, too, Coach Tedford!
At least this year I managed not to embarrass myself like last year when I rambled about how I had tried to evict a series of grandmothers. So, that's a step up!
Bee Tee Dubz, on the way out, we saw Monty get into a black Lexus. And he said he couldn't afford a Lexus. Tedford drives a BMW. I wonder if Monty is jealous!
ragnarok: Well, if Monty is jealous, he can at least take comfort in the fact that he doesn't drive a Toyota Avalon, like some former Cal Basketball coaches I could name. I think the cars they drive make a good metaphor for Cal Basketball, as Cal has now upgraded its basketball coach from a sensible mid-size sedan into a cushy luxury car. After just one year, I think we can all say that the ride has improved considerably.
TwistNHook: So, there you go. All the spinsanity from the Pleasant Hill Cal Coaches Tour 2009.