Yesterday was the second stop in the Southern California leg of the Cal Coaches Tour. Unlike the Northern California leg which featured Sandy Barbour, Mike Montgomery, Jeff Tedford, and Teri McKeever, the Southern California stops featured Joanne Boyle in place of McKeever. This one took place at The Ranch Sports Grill in Ladera Ranch. Since I am a newb to the area (I moved nearby just a couple days ago, which explains why I haven't been reading/commenting on CGB as much recently), I thought I'd check it out.
The Ranch Sports Grill was opened in early October of 2008. Its owner was in the audience and he appears to be an Old Blue. He promised that for the upcoming football and basketball seasons, the giant projector screen they have in part of the restaurant will be showing Cal games. Monty also happens to be a part-owner of the grill. It looks like this place could become a safe haven in otherwise hostile territory (apparently many USC fans live nearby).
The lighting was not great for pictures (it was inside with low levels of lighting and outside was dark because of some freak lightning/thunder/hail storms that made their way through the area), so I did not take very many. I took just enough for you readers to get a sense of the event.
Mrs Berkelium and I arrived about fifteen minutes early, so we were able to sit at one of the tables, but by about 5:30 or so, it was standing room only. I estimate that just under 100 people showed up for the event. It was a good turnout that featured mostly middle-aged alums and Old Blues.
Upon picking up the nametags, I noticed that they had a stack of the highlight DVDs. They feature highlights from Football and Men/Women's Basketball.
They served a variety of delicious food: sliders (burger-style and blt with avocado), beef skewers, vegetable rolls, caesar salad, spicy chicken pasta, assorted veggies, and wings. By the time the food was served, all three coaches and Barbour had arrived and were wandering around talking to people. Tedford, the classy man that he is, walked around with a glass of red wine. Around 5:30 or so the event began with Sandy Barbour. She began by emphasizing the importance of academics and athletics. She talked about her drive to make Cal as successful athletically as it is academically. She cited numerous statistics including the fact that Cal was only one of two schools that had each basketball team in the NCAA tournament, a bowl-bound football team, and a top-ten ranking in the Director's Cup (the other school was Texas). The combination of that sort of athletic success and world-renowned academic reputation make Cal a truly special place. Like the Marshawnthusiasts and NorCalNick reported, she spent some time talking about the rugby team and how they admirably responded to their loss to BYU in the national championship.
The first coach to speak was Tedford. He said he hoped the team could give the Southern California Bears some bragging rights over their friends and colleagues who root for USC or UCLA. He talked about how important it was that USC will be playing Cal while they're still breaking in a new QB. He also explained how important it was that the SAHPC was finally underway and how this has been affecting recruiting. He continued by talking about some of the expectations people have been placing on this year's team. Tedford said that in previous years the team had to learn how to deal with such expectations. He said that now the team not only is comfortable with high expectations, but that they thrive on high expectations. He seemed to suggest that the Cal team that was best when it flew under the radar has now learned how to be successful when they have enormous expectations. Not surprisingly, he talked about how competitive the QB position is and how he is especially impressed with Brock Mansion's progress. Apparently Mansion has grown to 6'6". I was a little surprised that he didn't mention anything about their recent commitment from Hinder. Like in the Marshawnthusiast/NorCalNick coverage of previous tour stops, Tedford spent a considerable amount of time praising Alex Mack's accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom.
Next up was Joanne Boyle who immediately apologized for wearing a color derived from red. She then praised the accomplishments of the team's departing seniors. She spoke of the challenges ahead with a team composed of Lexi and mostly freshmen. She is very pleased with the incoming class and seems confident that she can continually maintain a very competitive team. She also talked about a nonconference game the team will play that apparently is going to be held on an aircraft carrier (Monty later said that she should be cautious when telling the team to go after loose balls during that game).
Next up was Mike Montgomery. He talked about how much progress the team made in just one year. Whereas Boyle had a team of McDonalds All-Americans, Monty inherited a team with some McDonalds guys too, except that they simply "liked to eat at McDonalds." He talked about telling Randle about Brevin Knight, which the Marshawnthusiasts noted he said at the Pleasant Hill event. This helped Randle become the vastly improved player he was last season. He said the team now has to deal with lofty expectations, not unlike what Tedford's teams struggled with in previous seasons. He said that the top-10 talk and the predictions that Cal would win the conference next year were "a lot of nonsense." With this kind of attitude, Monty is not going to let the team get inflated egos. He also talked about how playing a team composed of a bunch of talented seniors sometimes faces obstacles such as players wanting to boost their stats to improve their draft stock. Monty's experience really shined when he was talking about these challenges the team will face next year.
He explained the situations with Kamp, Jorge, and Robertson's surgeries and how those impacted offseason practices. He then talked about recruiting and praised Jorge as a real treasure. He is very appreciative of Jorge's hustle and the energy he brings to the team when he's out on the floor. He only mentioned two recruits for next year: one JC guy who is "okay, not great" whose size will be necessary if Kamp struggles when he returns. He, of course, mentioned Bak Bak (note for Leon Powe and other curious readers: Bak Bak is officially pronounced Bock Bock). He said he only recruited Bak Bak because he has trouble remembering names and that having a guy with the same first and last names would be easy. He praised Bak's skills and size, but suggested that he needs more experience before he develops into a great player. Bak Bak seems to have a bright future, however. Monty said that Max Zhang has put on some weight and is up to 245 lbs. He used to be 212. Monty jokingly said that three meals per day really helped Max put on weight.
After all three coaches finished talking, there was a Q+A session. One person asked Monty how he would handicap Orlando and LA to make the finals fair and he responded by saying that his years with the Warriors indicate that he didn't know much about how the NBA works. He also fielded a question about who he would choose to be the starting QB for Tedford's team; Monty said he couldn't give an answer. Asked about recruiting nationally, Tedford said that the facilities really help the team with long-distance recruits. Those interested in the school used to ignore Cal once they saw the facilities, but the construction has really helped. Tedford says they don't actively recruit throughout the entire nation, but if a recruit from far away expresses interest in the program, they will actively pursue that individual.
That about sums up the event. If I remember any other details that I forgot to write just now, I'll add them in the future. For those who couldn't make it to any of the events this year, you really missed out. $20 is well worth the price for some tasty food and good times with Barbour, Monty, Tedford, and Boyle.