Pac-10 expansion posts pushed everything Cal-centric back a bit, but now that we seem to be in the eye of the hurricane, it's time to move back to basics. Here's the first of your two part Cal Coaches Tour recap from last Wednesday at AT&T Park. Football today, basketball tomorrow.
Sandy Barbour talked a little bit about recognizing the achievements of our Cal student-athletes, acknowledging both their accomplishments in and out of the classroom. The loudest cheers came for our Pac-10 champion men's Cal basketball team, although Cal rugby came in a close second with their 25th national championship.
A very encouraging note was that Barbour expects the SAHPC to be finished on schedule in time for the start of the 2011 season. The Cal football team has moved out of their facilities with the renovations in full swing--the current Cal locker room has been completely cleaned out (photo courtesy of Jeremy Ross's Twitter) and is now located at the surge complex on top of Witter Field (see CaliforniaEternal's last photo post in his SAHPC update for an idea of what it looks like).
She was quite crafty at dodging the questions about possible expansion opportunities, but did mention that it was an exciting time in college athletics for the Pac-10, and gave a shout-out to Commissioner Scott for his aggression and ambition, making the conference more relevant and getting better TV contracts.
After the jump, meet Coach Tedford, the stand up comedian. Also some news about specific Cal players, position battles, AT&T Park, and the incoming recruits.
For those who had the preconceived notion that Coach Tedford is very stiff in-person, they were in for a surprise. Apparently hanging around Coach Monty has made him way more loose. Okanes, official Cal sports joke recorder, got the best nuggets.
–Tedford kidded Montgomery that every year the basketball coach downplays his team, telling people how bad they are going to be. "So I’m coachable. We have a lot of bad players and we’re not going to be very good," Tedford said.
–Tedford, on the football program’s temporary facilities that have been constructed near Witter Rugby Field while Memorial Stadium undergoes renovation: "It’s sad when your surge facilities are better than your regular facilities. We have bathrooms and running water now. We’re getting spoiled."
–While talking about how his team showed character coming back from an early 14-0 deficit in the Big Game, Tedford said: "How many of you were saying, ‘uh-oh’?". …And then Tedford proceeded to raise his hand.
–During the question-and-answer session, a young boy asked Tedford "if Kevin Riley was still playing quarterback." Tedford said "They always get the little kid to ask the question about the quarterback." Then, after a slight pause, Tedford joked, "Yes, Kevin is still playing quarterback" without saying he is the starter. Tedford went on to say what he has been saying since the end of the season. Riley has an edge because of experience, but the competition will continue through training camp.
Tedford did mention the high quality of his football players in their academic endeavors--Cal football had the second highest APR in the conference; as always he emphasized how committed the kids were off the field. The money quote? "We're always glad to see that our boys aren't ending up on the ESPN ticker. Now heaven forbid something like that ever does happen, but I'm proud of their conduct." (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the general idea.)
Okanes did mention how high Tedford was in on the incoming class and how they're likely to see playing time this season. To elucidate further, he singled out receivers and linebackers as the likeliest guys to make immediate contributions. So for those who haven't been following recruiting lately, keep your eyes out on the following names and expect maybe half of them to hit the field at least once and one or two to be regular contributors: Chris Martin, Nick Forbes, Cecil Whiteside, David Wilkerson, Keenan Allen, Kaelin Clay, Coleman Edmond, Tevin Carter, Terrance Montgomery.
I won't get into specifics, but Tedford did mention how happy he was with the special teams unit and feels like there should be big improvements from what we saw last year. In other words, kickoffs out of bounds and returns to around the 40 yard line should be the anomaly rather than the norm.
As to defense, he said his players looked very happy with the very aggressive format. We have no idea how well it will translate on the field, but he did state payers were flying around the field in practice. It should be an encouraging sign for those who've been annoyed with Cal's recent read and react defensive schemes.
There were some questions directed at Tedford in the Q&A after his talk. The offensive line and the tight end were addressed, as some alum wondered how strong the youthful Cal unit up front would be. Tedford said Chris Guarnero seemed locked in at center as did Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle. Matt Summers-Gavin practiced much of spring at left tackle and now seems to be making a permanent move toward the position. By default, that leaves the guards (the most inconsistent spot last year) as the biggest question mark going into fall.
Anthony Miller is also locked in as the starter, and Tedford seemed particularly happy about his development, calling him one of the best pass catching tight ends in the conference. He also considered him a nasty young man on the field (and he meant that in the football way, so it's a good thing).
There were some questions about AT&T Park, about having separate sidelines (yes), about having a 100 yard field between the end zones (yes), about creating extra space for players when they're running out of the end zones (yes), about moving it closer to the 3rd base line (yes), etc. You can find out most of what you need to know in our news post on the event here.
The second running back position is still up for grabs--Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson, Isi Sofele, Trajuan Briggs & Dasarte Yarnway all continue to jostle. For the first time ever, this could be a position where we should be slightly concerned, since primarily relying on one running back has been a very dicey formula for us to bet on (see Justin Forsett during the second half of 2007).
Tedford mentioned that Shane Vereen was never the same after that 42 carry game--despite putting up decent numbers against Washington and Utah, the Big Game wear-and-tear along with the torn meniscus kept him from being that effective again. He doesn't want to put himself in that position again. But he did say that Vereen could see some time as a wide receiver (similar to last year when we inserted Jahvid or Shane in the slot) because of the playing inexperience in our corps.
Finally, I can't find a report anywhere, but apparently in the Chronicle the day of the tour event, there was a story about the SAHPC lawsuit. Barbour confirmed the last plaintiff in the original SAHPC lawsuit has made an appeal to the court to pass down an injunction of some sort. The judge has 90 days to rule. Barbour didn't seem too concerned and said there was no reason to believe there would be any trouble. If anyone could find that article or the appeal and link to it in the comments, that'd be great. Thanks.