The longest continually active Cal Bear blog

Archive for July, 2008

Now playing for Cal: Uh, I don’t know his name. Who’s number 34 this year?

No-Name JerseyThere’s nothing that cures a season-killing streak in which you lose six of seven games like… removing names from your uniforms?

So says Jeff Tedford in today’s Chronicle:

Maybe as jarring as the gold stripe down the middle of the new Cal helmets, will be the lack of names on the back of the newly designed jerseys. Coach Jeff Tedford removed the names before last season’s Armed Forces Bowl as a tribute to the military, and he admitted Monday that the tribute will continue this season because it was a twofold statement. “After the way Washington and Stanford happened, it was evident that we all needed to come together and look at accountability issues,” Tedford said. “That’s what we did. It was taking identity off of individuals and putting it back on the team.”

Not to freak anyone out, but this is not the first time Cal has pulled a move like this. The last time it happened was during, you guessed it, the depths of the Tom Holmoe era.

Now I’m pretty sure that players are not able to spin their heads around, “Exorcist” style, and read their names (upside-down) on their jerseys as an ego boost. But there is one group that directly benefits from names being placed on jerseys: The fans.

While many of our readers no doubt can memorize the name and number of every Cal player — and can even pick on the subtle physical characteristics that differentiate that number 4 from that other number 4 — I’m betting that 99% of Cal fans can’t.

Names on jerseys help the process by, y’know, actually telling you the name of the guy who just made that play.

Of course the no-names-on-jerseys trick is a cheap motivator. But to me it reeks of desperation, perhaps (I admit) because this is the same kind of genius motivational tactic we saw in the tainted Holmoe era. And because it’s disrespectful to the fans.

But hey, I guess those of us paying hundreds or even thousands of bucks to go watch games in Memorial Stadium aren’t as important as a team-unity stunt. There are plenty of ways to preach team unity to a bunch of college athletes. Couldn’t they find one that didn’t degrade the fan experience?

(Update: Look, this is not exactly a gigantic issue that’s going to rock Cal’s football team to its foundations. But it’s just so stupid that it drives me batty. So I wanted to add one more point. If this is really about “taking identitity off of individuals and putting it back on the team,” why not go all the way? Assign jersey numbers randomly every week and give the number listing only to accredited members of the media! And don’t announce the names of players on the Memorial Stadium system! Make the fancy introduction video on the little BearVision screen all about the team and don’t read off the names of players in a pre-game ceremony. Sadly, the rules don’t allow you to remove numbers completely, but if you really want to “take identity off of individuals,” there are a lot of annoying things you could do. Why stop at nameplates? -J.S.)

Injunction officially extended 20 days

Not that this is a huge surprise to anyone, but the injunction has been extended 20 days. This occured because the California Oak Foundation and the Panaramic Hills Association have filed an appeal. It’s an “automatic extension”, whatever that means. Apparently there is no need to post bond or anything like that for the 20 day extension as some had wondered.

So we’re back to August 18th as the earliest the trees will be cut down.

Also of note is that the City of Berkeley is not on the list for the new appeal. That’s because at last nights city council meeting, they decided to delay taking any action. While in theory they could decide later to file an appeal, with the injunctions due to expire their decision to wait (it appears they’re going to wait for 58 days, although I don’t understand if that’s logistics because of their vacation and when they meet or if there’s some other reason) is effectively a killer blow to the appeal. There’s no way the PHA can come up with the bond money they’d need without the City of Berkeley there to cover for them.

So to sum up, unless Judge Miller does something remarkable on August 12th in the request for a re-trial or unless the tree-sitters and PHA can find an appellate judge who will give them an injunction without a bond, an even more remarkable occurance if it occurs, August 18th is tree-cutting day.

Looking back on ’07: Oregon

The pre-game Storyline:
The biggest game of the season in the Pac-10 so far, Cal vs. Oregon would determine the front-runner to challenge USC for the conference championship. With Cal ranked #6 and Oregon ranked #11, it was considered a very even matchup once the home field advantage was taken into account. The game should be a shootout with both team’s offenses being nearly unstoppable all season.

The pre-game reality:
The reality was that Oregon and Cal had the most under appreciated defenses in the Pac-10. Particularly with the matchup between Belloti and Tedford, two coaches who know each other all too well, and hence their teams, well, the game was nearly guaranteed to be more balanced than the pundits thought. Oregon was also a fairly untested team when one took into account the reality that Michigan was in horrible shape when Oregon destroyed them in week 2. Cal, although more tested than Oregon, was also less tested than people believed.

The key plays:

  • Oregon’s QB Dennis Dixon over threw a wide open receiver down the sideline on 3rd down on their first drive. Not only did it force Oregon to punt, it also cost the Ducks an easy touchdown.
  • Jeremiah Johnson slipped some tackles to go for a 26 yard run after Cal had pinned Oregon deep in their territory with a good Larson punt. A couple 1st downs later, Oregon was able to kick a field-goal and put the Bears in an early, albeit small, hole 0-3.
  • Jordan Kay got back on track after a couple shaky weeks, capping a meticulous drive by the Bears to tie the game at 3-3 mid-2nd quarter.
  • A truly, remarkably bad personal foul call on Ezeff turned a 4th and 7 from near mid-field, to a 1st and 10 just outside of the redzone for Oregon. Ezeff’s hit was more than just legal, it was prudent the way Oregon had been tip-toeing up the sideline. The refereeing blunders continued on the next play when a blatant block in the back was not called on a reverse play that gave Oregon the 1st and goal they needed to take back the lead, Cal now down 3-10.
  • Forsett broke a 30 yard run play to get Cal into the Oregon redzone. Unfortunately Kay’s kick went over the short Oregon goal posts and was called no-good on a very close kick leaving Cal down by 7, 3-10.
  • A punt to DeSean never got to him because Oregon interfered with the opportunity to make the catch. That gave the Bears the ball near mid-field. A couple first downs later the Bears were in striking distance.
  • Later on the drive, DeSean broke free on an exceptional post route for an easy touchdown to tie the game at 10-10 with less than 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
  • A Dixon to Colvin slant up the seam went for 42 yards and a touchdown, getting Oregon back their touchdown lead on the ensuing possession. It was clearly a missed assignment by the Cal secondary and the Bears were down again 10-17.
  • DeSean caught a nice fade pattern down the sideline that would have gone for a touchdown had Jackson not had to try and tip-toe down the sideline. Nevertheless it got Cal down into the redzone where the Bears were able to punch it in and tie the game at 17-17.
  • Jackson made an awesome stutter step move to run past the Oregon corner in route to another touchdown and to give Cal their first lead of the game, 24-17 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
  • Jahvid Best ran down and recovered the fumbled kickoff by Oregon. Cal got the ball back inside the Oregon 30. Unfortunately Cal was unable to make any progress from there and actually went backwards to take the Bears out of field-goal range. However, Cal was able to pin Oregon inside their own 10 yard-line.
  • Back-to-back long passes got Oregon all the way down the field into the Cal redzone where Oregon was able to punch it in to tie the game at 24-24.
  • Anthony Felder did a nice job of disguising his zone coverage and induced Dixon to throw his first interception of the season, giving Cal the ball just outside the Oregon redzone.
  • With Longshore back behind center but obviously gimpy, Forsett and the offensive line took the team on their back and ran the ball in for a touchdown on three consecutive plays putting Cal up 31-24.
  • After Oregon surprisingly easily marched down into the Cal redzone, Mika Kane tipped the ball for Alualu to intercept.
  • Jeremiah Johnson eluded a handful of tackles on a play that would have had him down in bounds (and hence left the clock running) still in Oregon territory. Instead he was able to run across the field for a 30-yard gain and get out of bounds.
  • And of course… the defining play of the game… Marcus Ezeff forced a fumble of Colvin just before the goal-line. The resulting touchback went to Cal because the ball crossed the goal-line and then dribbled out of bounds. This gave the Bears the ball back to take a knee and end the game.

The forgotten:

  • The crowd noise at the beginning of the game rattled Cal on their first possession and was nearly the sole reason that not only did Cal go 3-and-out, but also managed to go backwards on those three plays.
  • Oregon was heavily committed to stopping the run early in the game. Cal’s play calling played right into that with a heavy load of run plays.
  • The 1st quarter had only 3 points, a field-goal by Oregon. Otherwise both offenses were mostly held in check despite both sides getting a fair amount of yards. There was a lot of “Bend But Don’t Break” working very effectively.
  • On Cal’s first drive of the 2nd half, Cal started with a lot of play-action passing to loosen up the Oregon defense. The resulting gains got Cal onto the Oregon side of the field. At which point Cal was finally able to get some production from their running game.
  • Cal’s defense held Oregon to almost zero offense on their first few drives of the 2nd half. That both gave Cal additional possessions and allowed them to wear down the Oregon defense.
  • Although DeSean Jackson never got a good punt return opportunity nor was there a horrible shank trying to punt away from DeSean, his presence did play a big hand in the field-position game. There were a lot of very high and relatively short punts that gave Cal better than average field-position.
  • Oregon fans are whiners about hits along the sideline, arguing for personal fouls when their players are tip-toeing up the sidelines. The most egregious was an extended boo for a play where Dixon was still well in-bounds when he was hit out of bounds inside the 5 yard-line.
  • The game was still tied when Longshore went down injured. The Bears had to punt right away with Riley behind center who was only handing off to Forsett (and that’s what Oregon was expecting/defending).
  • Longshore, although he came back into the game, never threw the ball again on two possessions. Oregon was clearly ready for this and outside of the short-field touchdown, completely shutdown the Cal running game.

The post-game storyline:Cal won a tight fought battle between two excellent teams, making Cal the clear challenger to USC for the Pac-10 title. With USC coming to Berkeley there was much to be hopeful for in a big showdown with USC. All Cal needed to do was beat the handful of mediocre Pac-10 teams that stood between Cal and the USC game.

The post-game reality:This is one of those rare games where the ‘storyline’ pretty accurately reflected the actual situation. The one catch was Longshore’s injury. However, at the time, every indication was that it was a minor sprain and with the bye-week in between the Oregon and Oregon State games, there was little to be concerned about… or so everyone thought.

The 2007 learnings:

  • Marcus Ezeff was going to get a lot of playing time in 2007. He was coming of age as a young safety.
  • DeSean Jackson still was the most electrifying threat on the team. While he had been in a minor slump for a few games, there was no doubt that when we wasn’t being double and triple covered, he was very dangerous.
  • The Bend But Don’t Break defense was working at its best during this game. Both keeping Cal in the game when they were trailing and slowing the Oregon offense when Cal finally got the lead. Additionally it showed its ability to force interceptions with the frequent use of the zone defense in confusing ways that could induce errors by the opposing QB.

The 2008 implications:
Number 1 on the 2008 implications is that the Cal vs. Oregon game in Berkeley will be another good one. Looking at these two teams and both how stocked they are with young talent but also how many experienced players were lost in 2007, there’s every reason to believe that when these teams meet in November, we’ll be looking at two young teams that have come of age during the season. With them both reflecting the similar mindset of Belloti and Tedford, there’s every reason to believe it’ll be another close one.

The conclusion:
This was definitely the highlight of the 2007 season and was an extremely fun game to both be at and watch at home for the looking back series. This is Cal football with Tedford at the helm at its finest. What separates the last few seasons from 2004 was the consistency with which Cal has been able to play at this high level. In all 3 of the most recent seasons, Cal has had some troubling slumps that followed exceptional games like this one. What Cal needs to get over the hump is play with this kind of intensity and consistency through a whole season.

More legal action: Volker requests a retrial

Now that the Injunction is due to be lifted, the whole tempo of the legal battles has changed dramatically. Before the 22nd, Volker would constantly be arguing for needing more time, going on vacation as frequently as possible, constantly asking the judge to take her time, etc.. That’s all changed now. It took Volker, the tree-sitter’s lawyer, all of a day to file his first motion to try and thwart the University.

Interestingly, his first action was not to appeal, but to call for a re-trial from Judge Miller. His logic is this: “Hey, we did this whole trial on the basis of a project defined with the grade beam. After Judge Miller said the grade beam was a alteration to the stadium, the University changed the project. That means we were unable to present legal arguments relevant to the final plans. We want a new trial where we can present arguments for the following:

  1. That the stadium without the grade beam is still an alteration to the stadium
  2. That the stadium without the grade beam is structurally unsafe and a violation of the Alquist-Priolo
  3. That the stadium without the grade beam was not properly described in the EIR and therefor the EIR needs to be recirculated and reapproved

In summary, give us a new trial!”

This is the legal avenue I expected them to go down after the University pulled the grade beam, although I expected it to come at the hearing on 7/17.. However, Volker wasn’t given much of a chance to argue those points in the hearing on 7/17 because it didn’t “fit” anywhere in the discussion. Whether this was intentional by Volker to leave open this re-trial option or whether he really never got the chance is beyond my amateur legal skills.

In any case, a hearing as been set for 8/12.

So here’s how it goes: Volker will also file an appeal and try to get the 20-day automatic extension of the injunction to be triggered (there is some debate as to how ‘automatic’ this extension is and whether a bond needs to be filed, etc.). If he gets that 20-day extension, that’ll extend beyond 8/12. If Volker can successfully argue on 8/12 that a new trial should be held, he’ll then argue that Judge Miller should re-instate her original injunction.

Of course, all of this will require some pretty convincing arguing by Volker, both for the re-trial and for the injunction. Judge Miller seems to have finally caught on to the “game” that is being played by Volker and company and realizes just how much of a financial and logistical burden this trial is placing on the University. Unless there are some REALLY strong merits to the case, she seems to be swayed that it is unfair to keep holding up construction. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see Judge Miller grant a new trial but refuse to re-instate the injunction, basically saying that while she’s willing to hear their argument, she’s not going to hold the project up while hearing it.

So mark 8/12 on your calendar now as another important day in this legal battle.

As a final aside, I’ll be very interested to see if any of these lawsuits actually continue once the trees are cut down. On the one hand, once the project has been started, there’s not much to fight for. On the other hand, if the University moves forward with the project and then loses one of the lawsuits, it could cost the University over $100 million with a partially completed facility that has to be torn down, at University expense, and the big hole in the ground filled back in. While this extreme scenario is unlikely, it’s a pretty enticing scenario for any group who really wants to stick it to the University. They may stick it out after the trees have been cut down just out of their hatred for the University and the elusive golden nugget to stop the project mid-completion.

VICTORY! Injunction to be lifted!

Well it FINALLY happened. Judge Miller ruled that the University can proceed with construction. There’s only one catch: She’s leaving the injunction in place for another 7 days to allow an appeal to be filed. Of course the tree-sitters have promised to. The City of Berkeley will likely decide tonight whether to join in. The Panaramic Hills Association status is unclear at this time. Of course, despite the promise of an appeal, whoever tries to has to find an appellate judge who is willing to put an injuction back in place both in the very short term to hear an argument for an extended appeal and the longer term for the length of the appeal. Additionally a bond will have to be posted if the City doesn’t join in.

UPDATE at 12:45 AM:

I’ve learned two things:

  1. There is an automatic extension of the injunction of 20 days after an appeal is filed. That means 7/22 + 7 days -> 7/29 + 20 days -> 8/18 is “Cal Fan Appreciation Day” assuming all goes as expected and an appellate injunction is not granted.
  2. It seems that the City of Berkeley has delayed their closed door city council meeting where they’ll determine whether to appeal until Thursday, although this is unclear.

To reiterate the basics of what I’ve said before about the appeal:

Everyone knows the appeal will fail. The only question is whether the appeal will cause a delay. The only way it causes a delay is if there is a new injunction put in place. That means they need to find an appellate judge who will grant an injunction and they’ll either need to post a VERY large bond (think 20 million) or get the City of Berkeley to join in, meaning the bond requirement is waived.

So basically, because there is no way the tree-sitters or the home owners are going to put up couple million bucks (10% of total bond) this could all be over real soon if the City of Berkeley decides not to appeal. Since Judge Miller also gave 85% of the court costs (excluding lawyer fees) to the University, the City is already facing the bitter pill of playing Cal approximately $50k-$100k. The combined costs of the additional lawyer fees for an appeal and the likely assessment of paying even MORE court costs to Cal after the appeal, in my view, will likely have the City waiving the white flag here. But that was a sentence written by a rational human being and the City has a history of defying all logic.

The even better news is that in the end, it probably won’t matter if the City of Berkeley joins the appeal. I have higher hopes than ever before that these bozos won’t even be able to find the appellate judge who will grant them an injunction. Considering just how bad of a smack down they got in the initial trial, it seems very unlikely to me. The difference here is that we’ll have to wait until August 18th to find out because they’ll have that entire time to try and find a judge who will do it.

This is all a long way of saying that, if you were planning on reserving a chain-saw at a bay area tool rental place on August 18th, you might want to get it reserved pretty soon.

Looking back on ’07: Arizona

Montgomery struggles

The pre-game Storyline:
The Bears had revenge on their mind with Arizona coming to town. Arizona had thought to be on the verge of a turn-around but their season had started with a dud going 1-2 to start the seaason. Would the Cal offense be able to get back on track versus the traditionally stiff Arizona defense? Most people thought so.

The pre-game reality:
The 2006 Arizona upset was on everyone’s mind because the way Arizona plays is trouble if the opposition can’t open up a deeper passing game. With Longshore showing signs of having touch issues down the field so far this season, there was reason to be concerned. However, Arizona was looking weak again early in the season as they often do and the game was in Berkeley. A solid but not inspired Bear performance would suffice to get the win.

The key plays:

  • Arizona’s first punt was all of 18 yards because of a botched angle away from DeSean Jackson, giving Cal the ball on the Arizona side of the field on their second possession of the game.
  • Forsett ran back-to-back slippery runs to get the ball into the endzone from the outside the redzone and put the Bears up 7-0.
  • Lavelle Hawkins was left wide open in the endzone to give Cal an easy touchdown and put them up 14-3.
  • Longshore was intercepted on a poor decision early in the 2nd quarter by Cason in Cal territory. Luckily for the Bears, Hampton was able to intercept Tuitama and prevent Arizona from closing the 28-10 score.
  • DeCoud intercepted Tuitama as Arizona was driving at the end of the 1st half, ending what was likely a field-goal opportunity at the end of the half.
  • Syd’Quan Thompson stripped a receiver to give Cal their 4th Arizona turnover only minutes into the 2nd half.
  • James Montgomery had a nice series of caries after the turnover, capped by a 3 yard touchdown run to put the Bears up 38-10 early in the 2nd quarter.
  • Syd’Quan was called for a 5 yard facemask on a 4th and 1 the Bears had stopped. The drive went on to score a touchdown for Arizona to bring them back within 14, 38-24.
  • Montgomery fumbled on Cal’s first drive of the 4th quarter. It gave Arizona the ball just outside the Cal redzone. Cal was able to hold Arizona to a field-goal and minimize the damage. Cal was down to an 11 point lead, 38-27.
  • Cal was able to yet again effectively execute two time-killing drives in the 4th quarter to end any comeback threat.

The forgotten:

  • The biggest “forgotten” is the video of the majority of the 1st quarter. Missed in that time was a solid touchdown drive by the Bears and an Arizona “drive” where an unrelenting Cal defense forced a fumble that was recovered and ran in the few yards to get a touchdown. When the video came back it was 28-3 with two minutes left in the 1st quarter.
  • Mike Thomas ran a quick touchdown in to start the 2nd half off of a dump-off pass that was called back by a personal foul for hands to the face on an Arizona offensive lineman. It killed a big momentum changing opportunity for Arizona. They would have only been down 14 points with nearly a full half to play.
  • James Montgomery got a lot of playing time in the 2nd half. While it was never explicitly noted, it appeared that Forsett had gotten a minor injury mid-game. He did play late in the game after Montgomery fumbled.
  • Forsett’s coming back into the game after the Montgomery fumble game the Bears offense a spark that they had lacked for the last few drives. The result was the final touchdown of the game for a 45-27 margin.
  • This game was a penalty fest. 14 against Cal for a 121 yards including a number of questionable personal foul calls and 8 against Arizona for 73 yards.
  • After Arizona scored at the very beginning of the 4th quarter, Cal held Arizona scoreless minus the field-goal that was a direct result of the Montgomery fumble.

The post-game storyline:
The Bears were rolling and had avenged their 2006 loss. Arizona was again in trouble, now 1-3 and needing a miraculous run to get bowl eligible and save Stoops job. The Cal offense was firing on all cylinders with another score in the 40’s. The match-up in Eugene was going to be a huge test for both teams.

The post-game reality:
The reality is that this game was won in the 1st quarter and was milked out from there. The Bears were settling into be the team that defined the 1st half of the season at this point. Their offensive rhythm was good and the Bend But Don’t Break defense had found the balance that would keep opponents from lighting up the scoreboard without completely letting the opposition march down the field with nickel and dime plays.

The 2007 learnings:

  • Versus’ TV coverage was not yet ready for prime-time. Hopefully by the time the Big Game came around they’d be more polished.
  • Jordan Kay’s early success may have had a component of beginners luck, missing his 2nd consecutive attempt. In fairness, he did make an attempt later in the game.
  • The Bend But Don’t Break offense continues to give up a lot of yards and associated time of possession. However, it continues to keep point totals down by forcing the opposition to slowly work their way down the field. This has been an effective “prevent” with Cal holding a big lead.
  • Cal’s redzone defense has not been all that good. Even Arizona, who had struggled in the redzone, scored touchdowns on most of their redzone opportunities.

The 2008 implications:
What there was a lot of in this game was 3-4 defense. It was used a lot against Arizona’s spread offense. What was surprising was the amount of pressure that Cal was able to bring with creative blitzing. In this fashion, the 2007 Arizona game is the best blue-print Cal fans have as to what the 2008 defense might look like. As for Arizona in 2008, the pattern of Arizona seems to be a slow start followed by massive improvements late in the season, particularly at home where they love the November upset. This fall the Bears play in Tucson in mid-October, so one should expect to see an Arizona team that is in the process of turning the corner. Their offense should be more polished this season now having a full year of the spread under their belt and most of their talent returning. However, on defense they’ve lost a number of their best players. They might be mighty exposed this year on the one unit that traditionally is the catalyst for their big upsets.

The conclusion:
There were those who felt this was another weak performance for the Bears. I think most of those people watched the game on TV. The game looked a lot less impressive because of the partial blackout mid-1st quarter. I felt this was a pretty solid performance against a team that generally deserves more respect than it gets in Berkeley. Sure we all hate them, but that doesn’t change that they play better ball than their record indicates. All-in-all, there’s nothing in this game that I think points to the 2nd half collapse. The one real worrisome area in this game was the penalties which ironically did not play a big roll in the later collapse.

DeCoud tackle

Would the Bears be good enough to finally good enough to give the Bears their first win in Eugene since 1987? Find out on Tuesday.

More football games on TV

Since so few of the Cal games were picked up by the “big” networks, Cal has been aggressively courting the small ones to pick up the games. As such the WSU, Arizona and Colorado State games have been picked up, and they’re all going to be on “Comcast Sports Network – West”. That’s not to be confused with “Fox Sports Network – Bay Area” that was bought and renamed “Comcast Sports Network – Bay Area”.

This also means they have game times for these games:

  • WSU: 9/6 at 3:30 PM
  • Colorado State: 9/27 at 3:00 PM
  • Arizona: 10/18 at 7:00 PM

The extra “good news” here is that we now have a game time for each of the road games one is likely to fly to (Oregon State is such a bad place to get by plane that it is both faster and cheaper to drive). Also, the Arizona game now being a night game means one can fly in the day of the game and fly out the next day to save on hotels and car rentals. For WSU, while the 3:30 PM flight time doesn’t really allow for either a same day arrival or departure without cutting things too close for comfort, I recommend flying straight from Pullman (well, really Spokane) to Maryland. A week in DC (or New York) can always be a lot of fun.

SAHPC in court again today

As a reminder, today is the 17th, which means our beloved UC lawyers are in court hopefully nailing the final nail in the coffin of the case against the SAHPC. I’ll post more when I hear more about what happened today. Of course, the judge is EXTREMELY unlikely to make a ruling today, so mostly it’ll just be “he said/she said” stuff, but it will provide the foundation for whatever the judge rules, whenever she rules.

Food poisoning

Those of you who closely follow the blog know while I try to stick to my posting schedules, it doesn’t always come through. However, my last Friday post that said “find out tomorrow” for the next post, was unusually off the mark. Why?

Food poisoning!

I guess I should have known I was in for trouble when the place is called “Wonderful III Too!” but I didn’t. In any case, from Friday night until last night (yes 5 days) I’ve been hating life, particularly life more than about 15 feet from the restroom.

But the good news is that I’m back in action and I’ll get back to my Looking Back posts starting with reviewing the Arizona game Friday night, likely posted Saturday morning.

Looking Back on ’07: Louisiana Tech

The pre-game Storyline:
After a sub-par performance the previous week, the now #8 Bears would need a better performance against Louisiana Tech to continue to get respect with the pollsters. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were expected to be an easy team for the Bears to beat.

Forsett TD (2)

The pre-game reality:
Every BCS team should fear playing a solid WAC team early in the season. The WAC is by far the best non-BCS conference and the teams in it are used to playing BCS caliber opponents both in their generally strong non-conference schedules and against the best of the WAC like Boise State and more recently Hawaii. If the Bears came with another performance like they did versus Colorado State, it could be trouble.

The key plays:

  • Lavelle Hawkins able to run fake reverse on kickoff to start the game for a quick touchdown to put the Bears up 7-0, 12 seconds in to the game.
  • Catch and fumble by Bulldogs that was recovered by Cal was called an incomplete pass when it was clearly a catch and fumble… although no damage was done later on that drive.
  • A second review on a low catch by Robert was called incorrectly, saying that the ball hit the turf on what was clearly a catch.
  • Jordan Kay missed a 39 yard field-goal early in the 2nd quarter… his first miss of the year.
  • Bulldog quarterback Champion let the ball slip out of his hands and the Bears were able to pounce on the ball, giving the Bears great field position at the Bulldog 25. Forsett was able to run it in from there.
  • Justin Forsett runs a 39 yard touchdown weaving through the secondary, putting Cal up 21-6 (see photo above).
  • Longshore forced a ball on a throw in the beginning of the 2nd quarter into the endzone giving the Bulldogs an easy interception and killing what had been the Bears best passing drive of the game.
  • Brandon Hampton intercepts an under-thrown ball and runs it down to the Bulldog 17 yard-line. Cal was able to punch it in from there on a throw from Longshore to Stevens to go up 28-6.
  • The Bulldogs completed a 4th and long just outside of field-goal range late in the 2nd quarter that kept the drive alive. However the resulting field-goal attempt was blocked by the Bears.
  • Louisiana Tech had a nice kickoff return to the Cal side of the field after Cal had ramped up the score to 35-12. However, the defense was able to stop them there to prevent any future damage.
  • The Bulldog safety missed what would have been an easy interception over the middle, but the miss distracted DeSean who was behind the defense and would have run it in for a touchdown had he not dropped the ball.
  • Robert Peele intercepted a tipped ball deep in Cal territory late in the 3rd quarter killing the little bit of momentum and field position Louisiana Tech had built up in the quarter.

The forgotten:

  • Noris Melele had 2 false start penalties early in the game, one on each of the first two drives. Both were instrumental in stalling those drives turning 3rd and short into 3rd and long in both cases resulting in a punt.
  • DeSean fumbled a punt return trying to make a quick cut after catching it. Luckily it was recovered by the Bears.
  • Neither team had scored midway through the 2nd quarter with the Cal offense shooting itself in the foot with penalties and mis-throws and the Bulldogs overwhelmed by the Cal defense.
  • After Cal went up 14-0, the Bulldogs came out with determination on their drive and were able to over-power Cal’s defense en-route to a touchdown.
  • Cal had 6 penalties for 50 yards in the 1st half including a personal-foul that took the Bears back to their side of the 50 with just over 30 seconds remaining, killing the chance to get a final score in before halftime. When Tedford was asked in his halftime interview about the penalties, he replied, “That’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about at halftime.”
  • Louisiana Tech opened up the 2nd half with a powerful drive running the ball right at Cal and driving the full length of the field to get a touchdown.
  • Justin Forsett carried the team in the 2nd half getting carry after carry to grind out the win.

The post-game storyline:
Cal was back on track winning easily against a solid WAC team. Although there were moments the offense was stalled and the defense was not completely dominating, overall it was a solid performance that is reflective of their #8 ranking.

The post-game reality:
While the win was solid, there were plenty of moments and mistakes that were troubling to Bear fans who knew the Bears would be facing much stiffer competition once Pac-10 play started. While it wasn’t consistent, one of the more troubling aspects was the times when the defensive line was manhandled by an inferior team. Also troubling was Longshore’s accuracy/touch issues on the long pass. What was not troubling was the domination of the Cal running game.

The 2007 learnings:

  • Longshore’s struggles with his touch were not limited to the high altitude of Colorado, missing a few open receivers, a couple of which in succession on a key drive in the 2nd quarter.
  • Jordan Kay may not be the miracle backup he seemed to be in the first couple of games, missing his first field-goal attempt.
  • Jahvid Best continues to impress and has the potential to be making large contributions every week.
  • The kickoff team continues to struggle with short kicks, putting the coverage team in the difficult position of having to get downfield faster than usual without over-pursuing (that risks a long return).
  • Rulon Davis was injured in this game, having a stress fracture in his leg. The weak defensive line looks really weak at this point.
  • Kevin Riley got his first playing time in the mid-4th quarter. He didn’t look all that sharp and it was clear that Cal’s hopes for 2007 would be pinned to Longshore if at all possible.

The 2008 implications:
Memorial Stadium is a bigger home-field advantage than most of us realize and the difference between the performance against Colorado State and Louisiana Tech reflect that home-field advantage. With two non-conference games at home there is much to be hopeful for in the non-conference schedule for 2008. Beyond that, with the Bulldogs not on the schedule for 2008 and it still being early in the season, there’s not too much to decipher from this game.

The conclusion:
My memory of this game was that the Bears had played flat again. Not as flat as against Colorado State, but still flat and not as crushing a victory as it indeed was. This game was a pretty convincing win that minus the penalties, there wasn’t too much to complain about.

Would the momentum carry over to the Pac-10 schedule? Could the Bears get revenge against Arizona for their 2006 upset of the Bears that cost Cal fans yet another shot at the Rose Bowl? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Forsett TD (4)

Looking back on ’07: Colorado State

The pre-game Storyline:
After getting redemption against Tennessee the now number 10 in the AP poll Bears look to roll versus a weak Colorado State. Would the high altitude and the road trip get the Bears to overlook the Rams? Most people didn’t think so.

The pre-game reality:
The Bears were clicking on offense after their game versus Tennessee and there was no reason to think that Colorado State, a team early in a slow rebuilding process as a mid-major, would be any sort of a challenge. Those who had minor concerns were concerned about the altitude affecting Longshore’s ability to have good touch on the long ball, but Cal had enough weapons both in the running game and the shorter passing game that CSU shouldn’t provide any trouble.

The key plays:

  • Colorado State forced a 3-and-out on Cal’s first possession, giving them a bunch of momentum and reason to believe they could compete with the Bears.
    Reverse to DeSean Jackson the first play after CSU went up 7-0 goes for a touchdown to quickly tie up the game 7-7 and defuse the majority of the momentum the Rams had gained.
  • Interception by Derrick Hill on wounded duck pass into the endzone ends a dangerous position for the Bears where they could have gone down 7-14. (Although he should have stayed in the endzone to get the ball at the 20 instead of at the 4 yard-line.)
  • Colorado State given touchdown on goal-line stand when the QB clearly was stopped a couple yards short. Ties game at 14-14.
  • Cal had a touchdown on a slant to Hawkins called back on a holding penalty in the mid-3rd quarter with the Bears up only 20-14.
  • Linebacker Anthony Felder had a Follett-esk sack to jar loose the football and give a turnover to the Bears in CSU territory late in the 3rd quarter.
  • Justin Moye intercepted the ball early in the 4th quarter just when it seemed like the CSU offense was getting back on track and gave the Bears the ball in CSU territory.
  • Jahvid Best slipped through a number of would-be tacklers on a 60+ yard touchdown run to give Cal a commanding (and soon to be necessary) 20 point lead, 34-14.
  • CSU throws a deep bomb with good touch to score an easy touchdown with less than 4 minutes left in the game to reduce Cal’s lead to 13, 34-21.
  • CSU then converted on the on-side kick with a good bounce to make it difficult to the Cal good hands team to pull it down.
  • CSU then sent another bomb down the field that although much better covered than the previous one, was still hauled down to give the Rams a 1st and goal from inside the 5 yard-line. The resulting touchdown put CSU within a touchdown, Cal up only 34-28.

The forgotten:

  • Colorado State pinned Cal at their own 2-yard line for the Bears second possession after the CSU punt bounced sideways after landing inside the 5 yard-line.
  • Colorado State ran the same reverse that DeSean Jackson ran their first play after Cal ran it. Although it didn’t go for a touchdown, it did get them 40+ yards down to the Cal redzone.
  • Jordan Kay kicked two lengthy field-goals: A 47 yard field-goal that gave the Bears their 17-14 halftime lead and a 41 yard field-goal early in the 3rd quarter to put the Bears up 20-14. He looked really sharp… albeit at altitude in his second start and the points ended up being the margin of victory.
  • DeSean fumbled a key 1st down completion that by the time he recovered it had lost the 1st down setting up 4th down.
  • The Cal defense played with a completely different personality in the 2nd half, particularly against the run game, forcing frequent punts.
  • Colorado State punted to DeSean on just about every punt but the Ram coverage team did a great job of corralling DeSean.
  • While Longshore did do most of his passing short, he also took his shots down the field. Unfortunately his touch was off at high altitude.
  • There were still 3 minutes left in the game when the lead was within a touchdown. Cal both recovered a 2nd onside kick (well, let it go out of bounds) and then was able to pound the ball to get the two 1st downs needed to grind out the clock and seal the win.

The post-game storyline:Cal escaped from Colorado with a somewhat undeserved win having played the game as a letdown game. Overall there was no reason to doubt that when the Bears came to play, they’d continue to be one of the Pac-10’s best.

The post-game reality:While it was definitely true that the Bears played a flat game, there were also a few aspects to be worried about. The offensive line play left something to be desired. The same was true of the defensive line who let a smaller CSU offensive line push them around and generate an effective run game to keep the ball out of Cal’s hands. The lack of a run game, minus a couple of big plays, was the most disturbing thing.

The 2007 learnings:

  • Marcus Ezeff, getting the start in the game, was clearly going to be a force in the secondary and would get a lot of playing time going forward.
  • Even at altitude, the kickoffs were barely making it into the endzone and were kicked on a pretty low line giving plenty of opportunity for a good return. That was a bad sign for kickoffs when back in the Pac-10 closer to sea-level.
  • The defensive line was not getting much pressure on the CSU quarterback and didn’t seem to be performing well. If they didn’t turn it around in the next couple weeks, it could be a very long Pac-10 season as pressure on the QB is critical to keeping the opposition off the scoreboard.
  • The backup secondary spots left something to be desired. Darian Hagan was burned bad for a long touchdown as was Marcus Ezeff (who although starting this game was still considered a backup at this point).

The 2008 implications:It was still awful early in the season to make too many conclusions about 2008. However, what can be said is that Colorado State should not be overlooked on the Bears schedule. Of course with the game in Berkeley the environment will be very different. Nevertheless, the Bears had better be ready for some very physical play at the line of scrimmage by both the offense and defense. CSU will also be a much more experienced team with so much youth last year now having another year under their belt.

The conclusion:Even in review, I don’t make too much of this game. Yes there were signs of what plagued the Bears later in the season, but overall the only story outside of the slow start in this game was the two late touchdowns that Cal gifted the CSU Rams. Considering that was due to young backups, it’s hard to think it was a trend in the making.

But the next game against Louisiana Tech. would be very interesting if it turned out the same way with that game at home and having already had the scare against CSU. Tune in on Wednesday for my review of that game.

Wimbledon was AWESOME

Please forgive me an aside. Now I know after my last aside, most of you are groaning, but hear me out… this is still about sports.

I was working on updating the scripts for the pickem game so the 2008 EMFMV edition is even better and more competitive than last season. Since I like to watch sports while I code, I turned on the TV to see what was on. It was 9:30 AM and I thought, “hey, isn’t Wimbleton on at 9 AM?” Well no. It started at 9 AM eastern time. But because of rain delays and the such, they were only in the 3rd set.

Now as a bit of background, I played tennis recreationally in middle school and a bit in high school, but I’ve always thought it was as boring to watch as watching grass grow. In the case of Wimbledon, it was as boring as watching grass die from two weeks of being stomped to death.

Well, after about 15 minutes of watching, the coding for the pickem was stalled as I had to stand up to watch this incredible match. For the last 4+ hours I watched two incredible players play an unprecidentedly long and toughly fought match. It took all 5 sets including tie-breaker games in both the 3rd and 4th sets and even had to go into extra games in the 5th set.

In any case, Nadal eventually won 6-4,6-4,6-7,6-7,9-7, which was awesome because both that young kid plays with so much heart and it was so back and forth with Federer coming up with the big ace every time his back was against the wall.

If you missed it, you missed an incredible sports event. I think I might be watching more often when these two come together.

Looking back on ’07: Tennessee

The pre-game Storyline:
Cal was seeking redemption from their previous year’s beating in Knoxville. With the game in Berkeley and Cal now knowing what to expect from the hard hitting SEC team that was coming to town, their high octane offense should have a chance to return the favor.

The pre-game reality:
The real story of the game was whether the Cal defense could do a better job than the previous year. Had it not been for the huge defensive mistakes that plagued Cal the previous year, the game would have been entirely difference. With a rebuilt defense, there were plenty of reasons for Cal fans to be nervous despite the high octane offense.

The key plays:

  • Zack Follett forcing a fumble on Tennessee’s opening drive that was returned for a touchdown by Worrell Williams, putting the Bears up early 7-0.
  • Tennessee ran the kickoff down to the Cal 24 yard-line after Cal had taken a 14-7 lead enabling Tennessee to tie it up again at 14-14.
  • DeSean Jackson’s punt return for a touchdown on the Bears first punt reception of the game and season put the Bears up 21-14.
  • Robert Jordan turned a busted play on 3rd and goal into a leaping touchdown towards the end of the 1st half to put the Bears back up by 7.
  • Forsett’s long screen reception with less than a minute left in the half took the ball down into the Tennessee redzone.
  • Tennessee’s ensuing redzone stop kept them within reach, only down 10 at halftime, 31-21.
  • Cal scored a touchdown to open the 2nd half. When combined with getting the 1st score of the game off the turnover and the last score of the 1st half for 17 points to “bookend” an otherwise evenly played game.
  • Cal’s goal-line stand on Tennessee’s ensuing drive, including the stop on 4th and goal, kept Cal’s lead at 17 points.
  • Forsett took over, starting in the mid-4th quarter, and it was the running game that ground out the 14 point victory.

The forgotten:

  • When Follett sacked Ainge and forced the fumble, Tennessee had already crossed into Cal territory. They also went onto score on their ensuing possession.
  • Longshore did a quarterback sneak on 3rd and 1 from the 2-yard line to score Cal’s 2nd touchdown.
  • After Cal went up 21-14 early in the 2nd quarter, both teams offenses stalled, trading punts until late in the quarter when Tennessee pushed in a touchdown to tie the game.
  • Tennessee out gained Cal both through the air and on the ground in the 1st half. In fact, the Tennessee offense out-scored the Cal offense in the 1st half. The difference was the 14 points from the defense and special teams.
  • Cal ‘s offense stalled for most of the 3rd quarter, giving Tennessee numerous opportunities to get the ball back. 3 times Tennessee was able to drive the field but it only resulted in 10 points.
  • At the end of those 10 points, the Bears were only up by 7 points, early in the 4th quarter.
  • Cal had a 1st and goal after a long time-consuming drive in the 4th quarter when Longshore was unable to pick up the snap on a quarterback sneak on 3rd and goal from the 1 yard-line. The resulting turnover didn’t affect the final result, but did keep Cal from crossing the 50-point barrier.

The post-game storyline:
The Bears got the redemption they had been seeking in a convincing win over an SEC powerhouse program. The Cal offense was everything that it was expected to be and the defense was surprisingly good against a potent SEC offense.

The post-game reality:
The reality is that this game was far more balanced than anyone wants to remember. Tennessee’s offense matched Cal’s offensive point production. The difference was the points off of the 1st quarter turnover and the punt return for a touchdown. Add in the benefits of getting the last possession of the 1st half and the first possession of the 2nd half and the bounces all went the way of Cal. Truth be told, if the game was played again the following week, it would be foolish to assume the Bears would have won again, even if it was played again in Berkeley. The defense, although playing conservatively to protect a lead, left a bit to be desired. 31 points is 31 points and that’s a lot to be giving up.

The 2007 learnings:

  • Cal would have to do without their star field-goal kicker, Tom Schneider after he tore a muscle in his leg in pre-game warm-ups.
  • However, Jordan Kay seemed to be filling in admirably, not missing a single kick including a medium length field-goal
  • After DeSean returned his first return for a touchdown, it was pretty clear that nobody was going to consistently punt to DeSean.
  • The Bend But Don’t Break defense was working as designed: It wasn’t going to force a lot of 3 and outs, but it also was going to be very effective at preventing the big comeback.
  • Justin Forsett seemed to be everything he was as a backup in 2006 and looked to be a more than capable replacement for Marshawn Lynch.

The 2008 implications:
With the game being so early in the season and with so much happening over the course of the 2007 season, it’s hard to come up with many implications for next year from this game. Mostly what I saw of interest was some of the intended starters for 2008 were capable of before they got injured. Rulon Davis and Jahvid Best were particularly notable with their strong performances.

The conclusion:
Overall this game was about what I remembered it to be. The Bears played a solid game and Tennessee’s mistakes were too much for them to overcome. Nevertheless, the victory can not be taken away from the Bears because they played with heart and determination. This game meant a lot to them.

Looking back on ’07

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times… or is it the other way around?

2007 was definitely a season that toyed with the hearts of all Bear fans. It’s been 10 months since last season began and it feels like 3 years have past since Tennessee came to town. So to set the scene here’s a recap of where we were just before the 2007 season began.

The 2006 season had been a meaningful redemption from the 2005 season. Nevertheless there was a bit of a bad taste in the mouth of Bear fans because they were denied a Rose Bowl beth yet again. Unlike 2004, in 2006 it was the short-comings of the teams itself that had held the Bears out of the Rose Bowl. Their collapse against Arizona left them one victory short of what is needed to get an at large berth to a BCS game and their subsequent loss to USC left them a tie-breaker short of winning the Pac-10 outright and the associated prize of a Rose Bowl. Nevertheless a 10-3 season doesn’t come along every day.

The big loss in the off-season was junior Marshawn Lynch who decided that the NFL was the best choice for him. It was the 2nd year in a row that the Bears had lost a Junior to the draft and nobody was a bit surprised. With the exception of Lynch, almost the entire offense was coming back. With Justin Forsett returning at tailback, a player who had filled in admirably when Marshawn was injured during the previous two seasons, everyone expected 2007 to be a banner year offensively. The list of offensive talent was remarkable:

Nate Longshore was coming off his breakout season in 2006. His generally mistake-free play coupled with his good decision making skills and good touch on long passes made him the Pac-10’s most impressive quarterback coming into 2007. The trio of receivers Longshore had to throw to were also remarkable and probably the best trio in the nation. With DeSean Jackson’s amazing speed and fluid route running coupled with Lavelle Hawkins ability to pull-down the tough passes over the middle it was easy to forget just how good Robert Jordan was if it wasn’t for his record setting consecutive games with a catch record. Add in stud Craig Stevens at tight-end and Justin Forsett at tailback and this was an extremely talented offense at the skill positions. Not to be forgotten was the experienced offensive line that was anchored by Alex Mack that was 2nd only to the 2005 team in its promise of keeping Longshore grass-stain free and give Forsett the holes he needed to explode into the secondary.

If there was a weakness coming into 2007 it was the defense. All-American corner Damien Hughes was off to the NFL after graduation as was Desmond Bishop and Brandon Mebane. Cal would need SydQuan Thompson to continue his strong play late in 2006 as well as have Brandon Hampton smoothly make the transition from safety to cornerback. They would also need Worrell Williams to fill Bishop’s shoes and for Zack Follet to find the consistency he needed to live up to his promise as an outside linebacker. Finally the Bears would need to rebuild it’s defensive line. With a number of candidates to fill the holes left behind including former military man Rulon Davis there was a great deal of hope that this too could be done.

If the Bears could at least play respectably on defense, and it seemed it had enough tools to pull that off, the offense should be able to lift the Bears to glory. Particularly with USC looking vulnerable yet again in 2007, it seemed that the Bears had the potential to make another run at the Pac-10 title and that elusive Rose Bowl. Adding to the anticipation, Bear fans would find out just how realistic those asperations from Day 1 when Tennessee, the team that had destroyed the Bears in Knoxville the previous year, came to Berkeley to open the season. Tune in tomorrow to see my analysis on Tennessee.

Flying through 2006 on the way to 2007

For those who followed my series on the 2005 season, I’m about to do the same thing for the 2007 season. But I figure since I’d be jumping over 2006 I’d post links to all of my ‘looking-back’ posts on 2006 from the old Cal blog to give the more thorough fans an oppotunity to have a bridge between the two seasons:

The other reason to review this as the format will more closely follow the format of the 2007 review I’m about to undertake.

Update on SAHPC case

First a quick apology on the lack of coverage for the last week or two. There has been tons going on that I’ve wanted to post on but life and the stomack flu got in the way.

So, to quickly wrap up the happenings that I missed:

  1. On June 24th the tree-sitters, the PHA (NIMBY homeowners) and the City of Berkeley (COB) submitted their proposed language for the judgement on the ruling judge Miller released. Their language was basically what I predicted in that it called for the project to be halted if the most strick interpretation of her ruling was not followed. They basically stated that they believe the stadium to be worthless, so the bar to clear there is too high for continuation of the project, and the additional events in the EIR require that the University go back to public comment and a whole new EIR.
  2. On June 27th the University responded with their filing. This is where all the action was. The University clearly had been doing a lot of behind the scenes work long before the ruling came out. First, they submitted a change to the project, removing the grade-beam and the rest of the minor changes to Memorial Stadium from the project. They submitted a bunch of signed statements from the engineers and architects showing how the changes to the project would not affect the structural integrity of the stadium but would merely lead to some cosmetic cracking. Second, they removed the additional events from the EIR since they’re not relevant to the SAHPC. Finally they filed a long brief on why the injunction should be lifted ASAP. They gave detailed numbers on how much every day of delay costs as well as clearly explaining how the filings submitted clearly show that the University has fully complied with the Judge’s ruling.
  3. On July 1st the judge held a hearing to determine the date for the hearing that would give both sides a final opportunity to argue their case for what the final language of the judgement should be. At that hearing the plaintiffs (i.e. the other side) were arguing for a long delay stating that they haven’t had time to review the massive filings that the University gave on June 27th and that they’d need until at least mid-August when accounting for planned vacations and the such. The University re-iterated the importance of each day’s delay and the Judge was fairly accomodating setting a date for July 17th, 5 days earlier than originally planned on July 22nd.
  4. Back at the bat-cave… er… sacred grove… er… whatever, the standoff between the University and the tree-sitters continues. The University stuck to their promise to prevent the tree-sitters from being re-supplied. The “ground team” tried day after day to re-supply and each time were turned back by the University. Their cries about starvation were responded to by the University by saying “they still seem to have plenty of food”. After about a week, the tree-sitters fully exhausted their supplies and the University agreed to give water and energy bars to the tree-sitters to avoid the criticism of starvation. Since that time a number of the tree-sitters have come down including the now infamous Dumpster Muffin. Most who came down were complaining of various minor medical ailments. In any case, the University’s policy of making life intolerable for the tree-sitters seems to be bearing fruit in the last week as the count of tree-sitters is down from 12 to somewhere in the 5 range at last count.

So for those who haven’t been following it, as the above summary shows, overall the last couple of weeks have been very postive for Bear fans. It seems that victory is in our grasp and that much of the very worried commentary in the most recent EMFMV podcast was potentially over-blown.

The hearing on the 17th will probably boil down to objections over the grade-beam that was removed from Memorial Stadium on two fronts. First, it will be argued that the University’s submissions over the structural safety of the project without the grade-beam are inaccurate. The plaintiffs will first make a brief argument as to why this is the case and likely try to present some expert evidence of some sort. They’ll also argue that they didn’t have sufficient time to do the proper analysis and ask for lots more time before having an additional multi-day hearing on why the grade-beam is an important safety aspect of the project.

The plaintiffs have used this argument once before with great success. When the original hearing wrapped up in late October that gave Judge Miller until mid-January to rule on the case. However in mid-December she sent out a request for more information on one of the issues addressed in the original hearing and set a date of early January to hear that additional evidence. The plaintiffs successfully argued for a massive delay until mid-March. That single issue cost the University not just the two months, but fully 5 months because it reset the timer on the deadline for the ruling allowing Judge Miller to release the ruling in mid-June instead of the orignal mid-January. While it seems from the July 1st hearing that the judge’s patience for the excessive delays has worn thin, I think this is still a matter to be mildly concerned about.

The second front the plaintiffs will try to attack is that these changes to the project, particularly the grade-beam, really invalidates the previous EIR and this new EIR without the grade-beam needs to be recirculated for public comment and re-approved. They’ll try the same tactic with the ‘eliminate the increased events’ change but I suspect that since it’s a return to staus-quo it’ll be much more difficult to argue that an EIR needs to be recirculated to say ‘all of this will stay the same’. The grade-beam however will be their better aspect to argue because of the many aspect that might have been commented on had this originally been part of the project, everything from ‘how can you allow cracks in this historical stadium’ to ‘I fear for my safety’ concerns. All of that said, it is my opinion that the plantiffs will not have any success in regards to recirculating the EIR.

So it all comes down to whether the plaintiffs can find a compelling enough expert witness to say that the grade-beam is structurally important for the safety of the stadium. If they can, they might be able to get that big delay they’re looking for. Since their ability to come up with expert witnesses has been pretty limited minus busting out a dictionary to rebutting what the state code means by ‘addition’, there is reason to be hopeful that sometime shortly after July 17th there will be a chainsaw work party.

And for a donation of only $1000 to the Bear Backer fund, you can have your wood bench seat upgraded to locally-grown (and hence environmentally friendly), freshly cut Oak! If you want redwood for a longer lasting bench, since that is in shorter supply, it will only be available to coach’s club level donors and higher.

Before we start celebrating, there is something important to remember:

The appeal.

My opinion on this still stands the same as it did in mid-April. It all comes down to two things:

  1. Does the City of Berkeley join the appeal (so no bond has to be posted)
  2. Does the appellate judge grant an injunction

The city of Berkeley (COB) seems to be more and more accepting their fate that they can’t win this case and already feels they’ve sunk too much money into this. While I don’t put it past them to join the appeal just out of spite, heck they joined the original case out of spite since the University was willing to make most of the concessions that the city wanted, it seems less and less likely that occurs particularly now that the University dumped the doubling of events at the stadium. If that’s the case, there’s no way the project would be halted after a successful resolution of the existing case. The PHA is not going to post a $20 million dollar bond on this and the tree-sitters would have trouble posting a $20 bond, forget the six extra zeros.

If for some reason the COB does join in on the appeal, I’m feeling more and more confident that the judge won’t give an injunction. To be clear, the judge will likely give a very short injunction so that they can hear arguments for why a longer injunction should be put in place. At that hearing the plaintiffs will yet again have difficulty arguing their points and with so little to go on the judge will refuse to grant the injunction.

So, looking into my crystal ball, it plays out approximately like this:

  • July 17th: Hearing on judgement
  • Approx. July 30th: Judge Miller releases judgement in University’s favor and lifts injunction
  • July 31st: Appeal is filed with request for immediate injunction
  • August 1st: temporary injunction granted with a hearing set for mid-August
  • Approx. August 15th: Without COB support or any good arguments, injunction is refused
  • August 16th: last tree-sitters removed and trees cut down

One final note on the tree-sitters. I’ve always commented that their protest is pretty ridiculous because there has been an injunction in place preventing the trees from being cut down. In other words, they’re not accomplishing anything. Well, I will give them one thing. When an injunction is lifted they do buy the COB and others a few extra days to file legal documents and find a judge who will put a new injunction in place. Without them, the University could be cutting tree within a day. With them, it’ll take them at least a day, if not two, to get them out before the cutting could begin.