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GAH! WSU game is at 7:30 PM too!

Another week, another 7:30 PM game.  Admittedly not a home game so it doesn’t have the same downsides, but it’s still a ridiculous trend.

Getting sick of these 7:30 PM games

I’ve got a slew of reasons why it stinks, but I’ll start with quoting myself from CGB:

My kids are losing interest in Cal

It used to be Cal football was something we did as a family, something my kids loved because they participated in something their dad loved. Now it’s something that Dad goes and does with his friends that they have no part of. It’s too late for them to even watch on TV.

Is it any wonder why they’re losing interest?

Adding to that:

  • I’m a church-going man and it’s really hard to be fully awake for Sunday morning Mass when I get home at 2 AM, Sunday morning.  This week, I’ve got to give a reflection at the 7:30 AM Mass, so I’ll be getting about 4 hours of sleep before I have to get up and be at my best.
  • Any complaints we have on the west coast are amplified by 3 hours for our East Coast fellow Bear fans.
  • It’s so late I have trouble getting friends to come.  They, just as much as me, have things to do on Sunday and only have a small part of the interest as I do in the game.
  • This week’s game will be a particularly long one as I’m going to make sure I get there early to get one of the bobble heads.
  • It’s one thing if it is one or two or even 3 games.  But when it’s EVERY game (every one but Utah has been a night game), it is just too much.
  • #Pac12AfterDark may be a fun slogan, but it really is just a way to cover up the fact that no one outside of the conference ever sees our games.

(Update: Just read an interesting article from the LA Daily news indicating, among other things, that “special attention” is given to homecoming games, implying that they are far less likely to get a 7:30 PM start.  The Utah game was Cal’s homecoming.  Said another way, the only game Cal didn’t play at night was the one game the TV networks were forced to give “special attention” to so that it wouldn’t be at 7:30 PM.)

Random Monday morning thoughts

Things that have been bouncing around in my head that are not worthy of a post by themselves:

  • A reminder to everyone thinking about the Cal/Texas rematch: Cal could have still won last years game even if Texas had made the extra point.  Not only would the game still have only been tied, there was still 1:11 on the clock when Cal got the ball back.  Cal had already had 3 touchdown drives shorter than 1:11 in the game and the Texas defense was pretty tired at that point.  It’s reasonable to think that Cal would have won the game in regulation, to say nothing of the coin-flip likelihood that Cal could have won in overtime.  I say this because there’s this wide misconception that the ONLY reason Cal won was because of the missed extra point.
  • I’ve been trying to understand the math behind why a neutral site game is more profitable to Cal and it finally hit me: It’s because the revenue sharing for the Pac-12 TV contract has no incentive to host non-conference games.  If Cal had 3 road games for it’s non-conference slate, the money it would get from the TV contract would be the same as if it had all 3 games at home.  So, effectively, what these 3rd party games do is effectively rob a game from the TV contract and then create a new separate TV contract for the single game, where the TV revenue is not split between the 12 teams, but instead only split between the two participating teams.  And since the TV money is WAAAAY more than the ticket sales (particularly for a weak non-conference game), it’s a no-brainer why the money works out for Cal.  (That said, I wonder what it costs the conference?)
  • A bit of an off-topic statement: but medal counting at the Olympics really gets under my skin because there’s so much apples vs. oranges going on.  In some cases it’s that a college’s medal counts are per person (so having 3 people on the water polo team counts for 3 medals) vs. a countries being per event (so a whole team of water polo players get one medal).  In other cases it’s the fact that certain sports (swimming and track and field in particular) have lots of medals to win where-as others allow for only one metal per Olympics and then calling the one with lots of medals “the greatest”.  It’s just a bunch of false comparisons and over stated rhetoric.
  • Nevertheless, way to go Cal by being among the top colleges represented at the Olympics, no matter what metric one uses.
  • Back to football, I’m starting to really worry about the back-side of the defense.  Between the attrition at linebacker last off-season and now losing Drew in the secondary, Cal better be ready to score a lot of points if it hopes to win games.

Unbalanced schedules could hurt Bears

With the collapse of Oregon, the Pac-12 North appears to be a battle between Cal and Stanford.  While it’s not guaranteed, as Cal could lose some games they shouldn’t based on what we know so far, at this point any results-based analysis suggests it should come down to the Bears and the Cardinal.

Thus the question becomes, what will it take for the Bears to finish ahead of Stanford?

The simplest answer of course is the Bears need to beat Stanford in the Big Game and then do no more than 1 game worse in the rest of conference play than the Cardinal.  So, if Cal beats Stanford, we can afford to lose one game to someone else that Stanford does not.  Cal could lose to USC even though Stanford beat them and still be OK.

But here’s where it could get unfair…

Stanford doesn’t have to play Utah.  They get to play Colorado instead.  There goes our one-game buffer, as one has to expect Stanford to beat lowly Colorado.  But to make matters even worse, the other swap isn’t exactly fair either.  Stanford gets Arizona, whereas Cal gets ASU.

So, for those of you Old Blues out there, here’s your worst case scenario:

Cal runs the table in the conference, including beating Stanford, and beats every team that Stanford beats, but Cal still loses the division, because Cal loses to ASU in the final game of the season (in addition to already losing to Utah) whereas Stanford beats up on Colorado and Arizona.

Wouldn’t that stink?

WSU Game set for 7:30 PM on Pac-12 network

BearTalk let’s us know what we’d expect (an off-prime-time game on Pac-12 network).

Which leads me to a question… anyone know how much data the ‘Pac-12 Now’ app will use if I watch the game on 4G?

Great post over at CGB regarding strength of schedule

I recently read this article over at CGB: Mythbusting: How the Pac-12’s 9-Game Conference Schedule Actually Hurts Its Teams’ Strength of Schedule Ratings.

It’s basic premise is that the supposed thing that gets better when you have extra conference games (strength of schedule) actually gets worse, at least when using the standard NCAA strength of schedule formula (so this wouldn’t affect the complex computer algorithm based strength of schedule metrics).

The reason is because the NCAA formula only cares about opponents records (and their opponents records). In an open loop system, that might work, but in a closed conference, since you impose your own loses on each other, every extra game you add, worsens the conferences overall strength of schedule.

Said another way, if there were no non-conference games and we played a full round robin, the strength of schedule of the conference would always be the same (0.5). Since a good strength of schedule number is higher than that (0.7 is very strong), every conference game you add moves you closer to 0.5 as a conference.

In any case, great and enlightening analysis by Berkelium97 over at CGB.

Cal schedules 2 more home-and-aways

Personally, I really like seeing the Bears scheduling lots of great home-and-away non-conference games. So I was excited to see that two more have been added, North Carolina and TCU.

These are two fine teams to schedule. There’s a risk in going too big name with a Florida or an Oklahoma. And while I’m up for one of those on occasion, I’d sure like to see the program on better footing before we add some of those to the schedule.

One minor note, I’ve long had the impression that we tend to travel before getting to play at home for these home and away. To answer that conclusively, I decided to look at recent history (home and away’s that started in 2000 or later):

Away first:

  1. Illinois (2000,2001 and 2003,2005)
  2. Michigan State (2002,2008)
  3. Tennessee (2006,2007)
  4. Maryland (2008,2009
  5. Nevada (2010,2012)
  6. Ohio State (2012,2013)
  7. Texas (projected 2015 and 2016)
  8. North Carolina (projected 2017 and 2018)

Home first:

  1. Utah (2000,2003)
  2. New Mexico State (2004,2005)
  3. Air Force (2002,2004)
  4. Colorado State (2007,2008)
  5. Southern Miss (2003,2004)
  6. Minnesota (2006,2009
  7. Louisiana Tech (2007,
  8. Colorado (2010,2011)
  9. Northwestern (2013,2014)
  10. BYU (2014, 2017 projected)
  11. San Diego State (projected 2015 and 2016)
  12. TCU (projected 2020 and 2021)

(updated: 8/14 @ 4:10p… moved Northwestern to home first… oops!)

So in actuality, we get the home first slightly more than we don’t. However, if one looks at the list it is clear why I’d think the opposite. All of the big name schools are on the top and all of the schools lower on the totem pole are on the bottom. I guess it’s just more proof of how Cal is a significant player in college football (BCS level) and so gets to have the 1st game versus lower tier schools, but not elite status, so we’ve got travel 1st if we’re playing an elite school.

Various January thoughts

1st up, after previous denying defensive changes, Dykes cleans house on that side of the ball, demoting Buh to a position coach (not announced but assumed to be linebacker) and firing both the defensive tackle (Randy Sacks) and defensive back (Randy Stewart) coaches.

Frankly, this surprises me. I mean, we all know the kiss of death for a head coach is the AD giving a “vote of confidence” to the head coach, and I guess the same is true for the assistant coaches when the head coach states he’s not making any changes. But something about the way Dykes said it in November and his image as a straight-talker, made me think he was going to ride it out.

But I’ve made it no secret that Buh doesn’t impress me. So I guess I’ll stick with calling this good news. Let’s just see who we get as a replacement.

Next up, the 2014 schedule is out. It validates what we already knew, including the Friday night Oregon game at Levi stadium and the non-conference slate of @Northwestern, Sac State and BYU and that the boycott on Thanksgiving weekend games in Berkeley is over with BYU coming to town that Saturday. The new news is that the bye weeks are set (9/13 and 11/8) and we’re playing at USC on a Thursday night (11/13).

Anybody else feel that we’re getting more than our fair share of non-Saturday games?

Depending on how good the team will be next year, this schedule is really bad or somewhat good. If you think the team will stink, it’s good, we get the worst teams at home (Colorado, Sac State). If you think we’re going to be struggling with mediocrity, the schedule is troublesome as most of the next tier games (@Arizona, @WSU, @OSU, BYU (at home)) are on the road. If you’re crazy and think this team is going to be good (and thus win those mid-tier games), most of the high-end games (UCLA, UW, Stanford, Oregon (neutral), @USC) are at home. For the non-crazy, perhaps what that means is we have a shot at a signature win for a mediocre team trying to show they’ve got the ability to beat the big boys.

Final thought on the schedule, I wish that first bye was a couple weeks later, but overall they’re not bad.

And final topic, the defections… Kline is no surprise and overall I think won’t hurt the program much. Tagaloa hurts a bit more. That guy has talent although under-achieved. But overall 3 guys defecting after a big change to the program is not that surprising. Overall it’s not too concerning. More concerning is the lack of progress on getting 4 star plus recruits and that we’re still 8 or so recruits away from the numbers we need in a month.

That chill you feel is hell freezing over

I can’t believe it. The Pac-12 office actually did it. They threatened and we didn’t believe them. But they did it.

Go here and scroll down to October 20th:

Stanford at California

Yes, the Big Game will officially lose it’s cherished spot the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

We tolerated Stanford playing a game after the Big Game. Then we grudgingly tolerated Cal playing a game after the Big Game. (And losing them all too frequently.) We were almost thankful the one year they pushed back to the 1st week of December so that it was at the end of the season while still being wary of it no longer being on the traditional weekend. Then we bemoaned it being at 7 PM on the traditional day. We feared someday they would make us play it Thanksgiving weekend. Yet we took it all sitting down.

But now they’ve gone TOO FAR.

This is ridiculous. There’s no excuse for this. There’s no reason. One could have easily made a schedule that allowed us to keep our traditions.

I say we start working on our plans to protest this. The only effective way to do it will be at the game itself October 20th. Suggestions? Wearing black? (Too cheesy?) Signs? Refuse to enter the stadium until 15 minutes after the game has started?

There has to be some way to show this is unacceptable. If we do, they’ll change it back for 2013 and beyond.

UPDATE at 4:15 PM: Go to this announcement from Cal and scroll to the bottom for the FAQ from Sandy Barbour to see their weak excuses for being shafted.

Top 5 reasons Thursday games stink

The more I think about it, the more I think Thursday games are the bane of all existence in College Football. They’ve got one upside: Money. Spreading out games over more than just Saturday means more viewing hours from fans of the game. But other than that, it’s all garbage:

  • Number 5: Lost bye week advantage. Theoretically, it’s an approximate 90% likelihood that with one bye, that each team will have one week where they’ve got the bye advantage (had a bye while their opponent didn’t) and one week where they’ve got the disadvantage (didn’t have a bye while their opponent did). The Thursday games tend to equalize things there for the bye advantage, because it’s likely your opponent will have a pre-Thursday bye just like the Bears (see Oregon) but it doesn’t significantly shrink the statistical likelihood the Bears will have a week with a bye disadvantage (although this year it doesn’t happen sans reason #4).
  • Number 4: Double Thursdays mean you’re going to get the bye shaft. After getting no bye advantage last Thursday, we’ll have a bye disadvantage against USC this week who has a pre-Thursday bye just like we did the first week.
  • Number 3: Difficult to get to home games. People who work in San Francisco won’t sympathize, but for the many Bear fans who come from far away for Cal games (I’ve found I’m not alone at traveling multiple hours to get to Bear games) a Thursday evening game is a real logistical challenge. And being a night game, as all Thursday games are, it also makes it not kid-friendly (who have school the next day (see reason number one as well)).
  • Number 2: It messes up practice schedules. I really think one of the keys to success in college football is consistency. That starts with practice. This year we’ll have 4 consecutive weeks (9/25 bye week through 10/22 Utah game) where the practice schedule will be unorthodox.
  • Number 1: It messes up the classes of our Student Athletes. Everyone remembers these are STUDENTS, right? They already make tons of compromises in the class scheduling to work around practices and travel schedules for Saturday games. For Thursday games they’re for sure going to miss additional class time and distracted, particularly on their return Fridays and with all the odd practice schedules during the week.

I’m sure these aren’t the only ones, others?

Interesting detail in new contract

I was reading about the new media contract and came across the bit about all football games being televised. Did they mean all conference games, or did that mean ALL games? So what does a guy like me do when a question like that comes to mind? I try to figure it out:

We know that there will be a total of 80 football games televised: 44 on ESPN/Fox and 36 on the new Pac-10 network. We also know that there are 55 conference games (9 games x 12 teams / 2 + 1 conference championship game). So yes, the contract is for more than just all conference games.

But is 25 games all the rest? No, it’s not. 12 teams play 3 non conference games, so we’re 11 games short of the 36 that will be played. But of course, the contract won’t cover non-conference games played on the road. It can’t. The home team gets the TV rights for almost all non-conference games. So is 25 the rest of the home conference games?

Which brings me to the point of this post…

If every non-conference game was based on what is called a “home-and-away” agreement (where there will be two games, one at home and one at the home of one’s opponent), then 25 games would be too many. There would only be 18 home non-conference games each year.

So, here’s what’s worth blogging about: Built into the contract is an assumption that there will be some “pay-for-play” games, games where there is no reciprocal game at the opponents home field and the team is paid to come play a Pac-12 team. And a lot of them.

The way it works out is that 10 teams should have two home-and-away based games each year (for 10 home games (half the total number of games)) and one pay-for-play game (10 more home games). The remaining 2 teams would have one home-and-away based game (1 more game) and two pay-for-play games (4 more home games).

It’s just an interesting little note about what’s assumed for the non-conference arrangements moving forward. To be honest, it’s far more pay-for-play games than I thought. Looking back to the beginning of the Tedford era, there’s been no season where the Bears have had 2 pay-for-play games and 3 seasons where there weren’t any.

Expect to see the trend towards pay-for-play games to increase in the future across the conference.

Finalized schedule

This is not official, but it’s officially the worst kept secret in Berkeley (now that coach M is officially the offensive line coach and OC)… Cal has scheduled FCS’s Presbyterian College, from South Carolina. That, along with confirmation that the Colorado game will go forward as planned, even though they’re now in the Pac-12 and the game will officially be a non-conference game, rounds out the schedule:

Date Opponent Notes
9/3 Fresno State Neutral Site game @ Candlestick
9/10 @Colorado non-conference
9/17 Presbyterian FCS (i.e. I-AA)
9/24 @Washington REVENGE!?!
10/1 Bye
THURS 10/6 @Oregon ESPN @ 6:00 PM PDT
THURS 10/13 USC ESPN @ 6:00 PM PDT
10/22 Utah What is a Ute?
10/29 @UCLA
11/5 WSU
11/12 Oregon State
11/19 @Stanford Get back the Ax!
11/26 @ASU Uh-oh, post Big Game road games are trouble!

Fresno St. on a neutral field – Official

The athletic department announced today that our first game in 2011 will be a neutral-field site, Candlestick park, against Fresno state. They also state that our game on 9/10 will be an away game and that our game on 9/17 will be a home game (at AT&T of course).

They don’t say exactly how it’s going to work, but the indication is that the Fresno St. game won’t be included in the season tickets. So, for those of us who hope to buy tickets for all games in the region, we’re looking at two non-season ticket games (Fresno and Stanford) we’ll have to purchase separately for a total of 7 games (5 home, 2 “regional”). Since we’ve been told through the grapevine that season tickets will cost about the same as last year, we’re looking at a more expensive season once all is said and done.

The cost issue aside, I like the idea of playing Fresno St. and the neutral field during our “banished” year is not a bad idea. We won’t have to worry about paying Fresno a fixed lump sum in a “pay for play” game, but we also won’t be losing a home game in the future that a home-and-home would.

Add to that, that Fresno is not the team they used to be (and no Nevada), so it should be a winnable game, and it feels right for next season.

Pac-12 schedule released

The conference announced the schedule for 2011 and the rotation moving forward. You can view both here.

So here’s what it means for Cal: (UPDATE at 1:45 PM:… I misread the schedule… updates below in bold/italic)

Every year we’ll play UW, WSU, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford in division. Then we’ll also play USC and UCLA as cross-division rivals. (This of course, we already knew.) Then we’ll alternate between playing ASU and Utah in the odd numbered years (i.e. next year, 2013, etc.) first two years (2011-2012, assumably doing a home and home) and Arizona and Colorado in even numbered years (2012, 2014, etc.) the following two years (2013-2014). That four year cycle repeats indefinitely from there (the listed shedule goes to 2018). (That’s the new revelation.)

Stanford’s schedule will be identical to us, just flip which years they play UA/CU and ASU/Utah.

USC and UCLA have a similarly conceived setup, playing everyone in the south (AZ (UA and ASU) and mountain (CU and Utah) schools) every year along with Cal and Stanford for their every-year cross-division rivals. Then they play a pair of the Northwest schools (Oregon and UW make one pair and WSU and Oregon State make the other). UCLA gets the WSU/OSU pair in odd numbered years the first two years and the OU/UW pair in even numbered years the two years after that and USC gets the opposite.

You can extrapolate everyone else’s schedule, minus which other team from the south the Northwest schools miss each year, from that, but the key news is that the Northwest schools play either USC or UCLA every year, alternating between the two each year playing the same team for two years in a row and then switching to the other (again assumably as a home and home).

It’s a classic, very formulaic Pac-10 minded schedule, just with all the extra provisions that the Pac-12 and it’s annual rivalries require.

I’ll leave the specific of when we play who in 2011 for after the season, because it’ll likely change as non-conference and bye-week tweeks get made, except to say one thing: Just as I predicted on last week’s EMFMV podcast, EVERY Pac-12 school has a game scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend, something that in the past has been fairly rare (at most there would be two games). Now that the last week of the season is reserved for the conference championship game, there’s no other way around the block if you want a bye in the middle of the season.

Told-ya-so! :)

New Pac-12 scheduling released

The 2011 schedule is out, as well as the scheduling system for the first eight years of the new Pac-12 conference.

Here’s how Cal’s schedule stacks up:

9/3/11: TBD

9/10/11: TBD

9/17/11: TBD

9/24/11: Cal @ Washington

10/6/11: Cal @ Oregon (Thursday night)

10/13/11: USC @ Cal (Thursday night) (AT&T Park)

10/22/11: Utah @ Cal (AT&T Park)

10/29/11: Cal @ UCLA

11/5/11: WSU @ Cal (AT&T Park)

11/12/11: OSU @ Cal (AT&T Park)

11/19/11: Cal @ Stanford

11/26/11: Cal @ ASU

12/3/11: Pac-10 Championship Game

Of note: Cal’s got two “bye weeks” but they’re on either end of the two Thursday games, which are played in successive weeks. Cal plays its first Thursday home game ever. And the post-Big Game game on Thanksgiving weekend that we’re probably going to be getting most years is a road game, thankfully.

Also note that the Colorado game previously scheduled doesn’t appear on the schedule, and is listed as an open date for both teams. So now Cal has all three of its nonconference games to fill. That’ll be interesting.

Arizona game at 4:00 PM

Versus picked up the Arizona game so the game will be at 4:00 PM.

All healthy-hearted (you’d have to be after Saturday’s heart-wrenching loss [even without counting Best’s injury]) sturdy golden fans are welcome at the stadium.

As an FYI, for those with DirecTV, Versus is no longer available.

Oregon State game set for 4p.m., FSN/CSN

CalBears.com has announced the time for the Cal-Oregon State game. It’s a 4 p.m. start, and will be televised on the Fox Sports Net / Comcast Sports Net network, including CSN Bay Area.

That leaves Arizona and Stanford times yet to be determined.

Cal-WSU starts at decent hour, not on TV

The University of California has announced that October 24’s Cal-WSU game will not be televised and will start at the delightfully early time of 1:30 p.m.

This is what happens when you lose two games by gigantic margins and your opponent is the consensus worst team in the conference.

That said, I can’t wait to go to a game at Memorial Stadium with the sun high in the air.