The longest continually active Cal Bear blog

Archive for June, 2009

3 more games get picked up by TV

Over at, they announced that 3 more games have been picked up for TV coverage. (Hat tip to commentor AERose for alerting me to the Minnesota game getting picked up prompting me to go search for a press-release on the subject.)

The new additions after ABC/ESPN picked up USC, Oregon and Maryland via their Pac-10 contract and FSN/Versus picked up no games via their Pac-10 contract, are:

  • CSN Calfornia picked up the Eastern Washington game as everyone expected. CSN California is our “fall back” option and they’re small enough of a network that any game they get causes a big up-tick in viewership.
  • ESPN (or ESPN2) picked up the Minnesota game via their Big-10 contracts or associated options (I don’t know their contractual situation at all).
  • CSN California got the rights to the Washington game from FSN Northwest who had already picked up that game for local coverage. This will ensure that the game is shown locally to those who don’t have the full FSN sports package.

That gets us to half the games on TV with the rest being up for 12-day selections:

Date Opponent Current TV TV Options
9/5 Maryland ESPN2 @ 7:00 PM n/a
9/12 Eastern Washington CSN California @ 2:30 PM n/a
9/19 @Minnesota ESPN(or 2) @ 9:00 AM n/a
9/26 @Oregon ABC @ 12:30 PM n/a
10/3 USC ABC @ 5:00 PM n/a
10/17 @UCLA decision 10/5 ABC @ 12:30 PM
or Versus @ 4:30 PM
10/24 WSU decision 10/12 ABC @ 12:30 PM
or ?
10/31 @ASU decision 10/19 ABC @ 12:30 PM
or ?
11/7 Oregon State decision 10/26 ABC @ 12:30 PM
or FSN @ 4:00 PM
or ?
11/14 Arizona decision 11/2 ABC @ 12:30 PM
or Versus @ 4:00 PM
or ?
11/21 Big Game decision 11/9 ABC @ 12:30 PM
or FSN @ 3:30 or 7:00 PM
or Versus @ 4:30 or 7:00 PM
or ?
12/5 @UW CSN California and FSN Northwest @ 3:30 PM n/a

For the observant viewer, they noticed that there was no “or ?” on the UCLA game. That’s because there are two contracts available and only two games to pick from, Cal at UCLA and Stanford at Arizona. So both games will get picked up, it’s just a question of who will be on ABC at 12:30 PM and who will be on Versus at 4:30 PM.

The Big Game also seems like a likely pickup as there are 3 television slots available and only 4 games to pick from. Particularly when one of them is Oregon State at WSU, which would only get picked up if for some reason OSU is on fire again this season, something I don’t expect, it seems safe to say that the Big Game will be picked up by one of these contracts.

The other 4 games are battling it out for 1 to 3, 12-day selections with always two or more games getting left out in the cold by the Pac-10 contracts (exception: 10/31 where there’s 1, 12-day and 2 games to choose from). The good news these days is that CSN California appears to be in Cal’s hip-pocket for any game that doesn’t get picked up for one of the more lucrative contracts. That’s where that “or ?” is not something to be worried about. We know exactly who’s going to do it and are pretty confident they’ll want it.

Overall that means things are looking good for a another season with every game on TV.

Cal gets ZERO games picked up by FSN

I’m a bit surprised by this, but FSN/Versus got their first stab at picking Pac-10 games for 2009 and chose to only make 7 of their 18 possible selections, leaving 11 more as “12 or 6-day selections”. That’s a bit higher than usual. I don’t know the exact numbers but I would have expected 10-12 games to be selected leaving just over a handful for the 12 day selections. The Bears got none of those picks 7 picks although I suspect they’ll get more than a couple of the 12 day selections.

As of right now, there’s only one game that couldn’t be on either FSN, ESPN or ABC, the Eastern Washington game. There’s no 12 day selections for that week and lets be honest, even if there was it wouldn’t be picked up by FSN. Look for the athletic office to be getting that game on Comcast Sports California (not Bay Area). FSN effectively did us a favor for not leaving a 12 day selection for that day because negotiations for CSN California to pick it up would have to wait for the 12 day pick before the ink could be signed.

The other game that’s a bit of a question mark is the Minnesota game. It won’t be on ABC or ESPN, but may be on the Big-10 network. It’s yet to be seen whether FSN or Comcast sports could buy the rights to that feed or perhaps whether they could go out and get dueling coverage. Whatever would happen, it wouldn’t fall under the Pac-10 contract because that’s only for Pac-10 home games. My gut says this game will be on TV somehow.

All the rest of the games are either picked up or candidates for FSN, ESPN or ABC to pick up as 12 day selections. I suspect that the athletic department will also be lining up CSN California to pick up any games that fall through the 12 day selections.

Here is where you can see the full TV schedule as it stands.

Moving the student seats

UPDATE on June 25th: This post has been getting a lot of attention lately so I talked with the Athletic Office today to see what the probability of moving the students is. The answer I got from Herb Beneson was that this is not a discussion point and while not every decision has been made, there’s been no indication that the students will be moved. Herb also pointed to the Haas Pavilion where the Basketball team plays. When they moved there from Harmon Gym, the students still got mid-court seats on one side. So looks like the Athletic Office views things very similarly to use regular folks. I’m going to be working with Herb to get an interview with one of the people in the know to get more details on how the seating will be arranged after the renovation, with the caveat that things are still in flux, so look for additional blog posts on the subject in the coming weeks.

bar20 made the comment down in my new stadium seating analysis that I was completely overlooking the idea that the student seats may be moved from the 50 yard line premier seats to make room for displaced donors and longtime season ticket holders.

It’s true, I did.

But I guess that’s because I don’t want to even consider the possibility. Every stadium I’ve been to where they displace the students into the endzone has felt wrong to me. It might as well be a pro-stadium, potentially an old one, but a stadium where there’s no more ownership of the team than owning season tickets.

In my opinion, students deserve good seats. It’s their school afterall. Not to be too harsh, but every alumni who wants to push them out in my opinion is taking an “I got mine” attitude, because when they were students, they got the best seats. Now, instead of handing down that tradition and benefit they received they want to be the group that gets the best of both worlds, the best seats in college and those same seats as donors.

Yes, yes, I know that’s what all the other programs are doing. I’ve never accepted that as a reasonable answer. You do something because it is the right thing, not because it is what the herd is doing.

But maybe I’m off base. Answer my new survey on the sidebar and add you comments: Are you willing to accept worse seating so that the students don’t have to be displaced?

Looking back on ’07: UCLA

(We continue our look at The Half Season Of Which We Shall Not Speak (THSOFWWSNS) with the UCLA game. Go here for past posts.)

The pre-game Storyline:
It was the worst of times in Berkeley. The Bears shot at their first #1 ranking in over fifty years was lost to a boneheaded move by an inexperienced backup quarterback (and how much one blames him for that depends on their inherent charity to inexperience). Now the Bears had fallen to #12. Would Longshore, our knight in shining armor, be able to play versus UCLA? If so, the game would be in the bag. If not, perhaps a week of experience should be enough for Riley to win the day.

The pre-game Reality:
While Longshore was healthy enough to play, the Oregon State game had exposed more weaknesses of the Bears than most people realized. UCLA was poised to make the most of those weaknesses. At a minimum, everyone now knew that Longshore’s injury was serious enough to have him sitting out 3 weeks, a long time for a sprain and probably wouldn’t be 100% in the LA.

The key plays:

  • Longshore limps through first 3rd down and is unable to complete pass.
  • UCLA’s QB, Cowan, overthrows on his first 3rd down to give Cal ball back.
  • Cal gets a generous pass interference call on 3rd down to extend 2nd drive.
  • Longshore slightly underthrows DeSean Jackson for a catch that could have been long one but instead was tackled right away.
  • Longshore makes a nice read and completes a pass to Craig Stevens over the middle for a touchdown. Bears up: 7-0
  • UCLA completes a bunch of 3rd downs in a row including a 3rd and 13 on their second drive.
  • Follett chases down Cowan from behind to force field-goal attempt, which is good. Bears lead slimed to 7-3.
  • Kalil Bell has a 64 yard run that was WAY too easy, setting up 1st and goal which is quickly converted into a TD. Bears in their first hole: 7-10.
  • Bears return kickoff to mid-field.
  • Double play-action springs DeSean free for easy TD. Bears back on top: 14-10.
  • Chris Conte is burned for 38 yard pass play on ensuing drive.
  • Bears stiffen in redzone, keeping UCLA to a field-goal. Bears lead slimmed again: 14-13.
  • Jahvid Best fumbles just outside UCLA redzone, losing a scoring opportunity and giving UCLA ball back with over 2 minutes left in the half.
  • Worrell Williams strips ball from UCLA with a HUGE grab, throwing the ball 20 yards down the field. Cal recovers in UCLA territory with just over a minute left in half.
  • Jordan Kay misses 44 yard field-goal wide left to end half.
  • Wide-reciever pass by UCLA completely fools Cal secondary for their easy touchdown. Bears back in a hole: 14-20.
  • Hawkins gets wrong call on “shared” catch where both he and defender have hands on ball. Defender eventually rips it away and it is called an interception. Correct call is a complete pass (remember MSU call in ’08?). Would have given Cal the ball in the UCLA redzone.
  • Forsett gets first sizeable gain of game, but it’s a screen pass. Running game stinks, only 29 yards midway through 3rd quarter..
  • Fade pattern to DeSean in endzone goes for touchdown. Bears back on top: 21-20
  • Cal gives up 50 yard runback on ensuing kickoff. Defense bails them out and forces punt.
  • Bears go to running game on 2 consecutive possessions going 3 and out both times. 2nd time Larson only gets off a 32 yard punt giving UCLA ball at midfield again.
  • UCLA executes both a screen and a reverse that work against a now tired Bear defense, getting the ball into the redzone.
  • UCLA field-goal is good putting Bears back in a hole with under 5 minutes left: 21-23
  • Best runs kickoff down to UCLA 35 yard-line breathing life into Bears.
  • Longshore makes one of few bad reads of game for each pick-6, effectively ending the game: 21-30.
  • Longshore throws weak desperation interception to seal the deal of what was already mostly for sure.

The forgotten

  • Longshore hadn’t thrown an interception all game, minus the bogus shared reception that was called wrong, and most of his throws were pretty darned good. People loved to place blame on Longshore for this game but his play was pretty darned good until the big mistakes at the end.
  • I had forgotten that the starter for this game was still a game-time decision. This time Tedford went with Longshore over Riley, which by my estimation was the right decision.
  • There were a TON of penalties in this game. I think Cal ended up with 9 and UCLA had a similar number. Lots of them were pass-interference in a very physical game, but there was lots of sloppy play all around.
  • Also, the turnover count was high as well. Between both teams fumbling and the interception count rising late in the game, this was one VERY sloppy game.
  • Overall it was the sloppiness by both teams that was surprising. Long runbacks, overly-easy completions, biting on play-action, penalties, turnovers, you name it, if there was something sloppy to be done, both teams did it and continually let the opposition back into the game.
  • Cal’s Bend But Don’t Break defense did not have the best day. Not only did it “breaK” a few times to many, there were far too many possessions where UCLA kept marching down the field despite it feeling like the Cal defense was getting the better of them.
  • Repeating my plea from the previous game, I hate it when the Bears are up by 1 at halftime. Two games in a row!

The post-game storyline:
What was at first a disaster the previous week was now an all-out tragedy. In two weeks the Bears had gone from being the assumptive #1 team to being out of the hunt for the Rose Bowl. But it was just too flukes in a row and there was no reason to believe the Bears couldn’t get back on track and make it to the Holiday Bowl or if a couple teams slipped up, get back in the Rose Bowl hunt.

The post-game reality:
The Bears were showing their weaknesses far more thoroughly than most were willing to admit. With both ASU and USC in the next three weeks, the Bears had a lot to overcome if they were going to get back on track, particularly now that both teams had two games of blue-prints on how to beat these Bears.

The 2007 learnings:

  • This was really the first game that showed the weaknesses of the BBDB defense. In previous games it hadn’t left the door open as thoroughly as it did versus UCLA.
  • Jordan Kay was starting to fall apart and he could no longer be counted on as a sure thing, particularly over 35 yards.
  • Another learning was the turnovers. The turnovers really hurt the Bears on this day and there was no reason to see the dropped balls in this game were just a fluke.

The conclusion
This was the first game where the Longshore “haters” really started coming out of the woodwork. I for one, don’t get why this game was the game that set them loose. Sure he make the disaster throw that lost the Bears the game, but SOOOO much had gone wrong throughout the whole game that was in no way Longshore’s fault that blaming this loss on him seems foolish. What was most apparent to me was that the team had lost it’s “edge”. They just weren’t the dominating team that made the trip to Eugene and did what very few people thought they could do no matter how good they were.

That said, there was a LOT more edge to loose.

Big Game revenue shaft

OK, before I get too deep into this, I’d better start with a disclaimer: I suspect there was many a year when Stanford was getting the shaft in this agreement. That said…

I read this article about revenue sharing for the Big Game and it really bugged me.

Turns out Cal and Stanford equally share the revenue from every Big Game, both home and away.

It’s not even the smaller stadium part that bugs me, it’s the number of fans. So in 2005, when there were 50k Cal fans and 35k Standford fans in the old Stanford stadium, Stanford got half the money!?! And the next year when there were 55k Cal fans and 15k Stanford fans in Memorial Stadium, Stanford STILL got half!?!

It’s one thing when a stadium doesn’t hold many people and that’s the limitation on how much revenue one can bring in, at least then the school that is benefitting is living under their own limitations the rest of the season. But it’s something else entirely when one school brings at least two-thirds of the fans every year and only gets half the money. Heck, if anything, I think the arrangement is more fair with the smaller Stanford stadium when they’re at least bringing 35k to Cal’s 15k when the game is in Palo Alto.

In any case… no big deal, just thought it was worth a quick rant.

How will seating shake out?

My previous post about the donor program going well has had me re-hashing thoughts about how the seating will work out after the stadium renovation and I thought I’d share some of those thoughts. But first a disclaimer:

I have ZERO insider information to justify my thoughts. It’s just based on my deductive reasoning and my general sense of fairness.

Let’s start out with an problem statement:

Currently there are about 72,000 seats in Memorial stadium. When the renovation is finished there will be about 63,000 seats (current estimates). There are only about 45,000 season ticket holders, but those season ticket holders generally hold the best seats in the stadium. Those best seats on the west side will now be spread out. As such, fewer people will be able to sit close to the 50 yard line on the west side. Thus the fundamental question is: who will be displaced and to where?

Here’s the base analysis of how many people will be displaced:

(By the way, I might be helpful to open up a seating chart for Memorial stadium at this point.)

There’s 48 sections in Memorial stadium and for the most part they are similar in size. 72k/48 = 1500 seats per section. Currently the donor seating on the west side compromises 8 sections (EE to I) for a total of 12,000 seats. Based on news reports, it appears that capacity will be reduced to 8,000 seats. There will be 3000 premier seats and then 5000 “regular” donor seats. My assumption is that the “regular” donor seats will extend as far as they have in the past, EE to I.

Of course, that’s only a 4k reduction, so we need to come up with 5k additional seats that are converted from bleachers to seats. Assuming the same ratio of 2 seats take the space of 3 bleacher seats that the donor section has, that means 10 additional sections must be converted. I’m going to make a stab and say the following sections will be converted: T, TT, CC through E and II through K. There’s other options here, mostly putting either more or less seating (could there be none?) on the east side, however I’m going to stick with my setup because it’s exclusively on the west side minus where there is donor seating on the east side.

So where are season ticket holders currently sitting?

Basically, current ticket holders take up all but 18 sections. To simplify matters, I’m going to assume all sections are filled before they move to the next, which is obviously not true. Nevertheless I think it is a simplification that doesn’t leave too much unaccounted for. Those single-game seated sections would be C through D (3 sections), JJ thorugh KK (3 sections), MM through PP (includes visitor section for 7 total) and UU through WW).

So, somewhere between 6 and 9 of those sections, depending on whether the new sections have seats or benches are going to be filled by people displaced from the west side (and the two donor sections on the east side). CC, D, JJ and K, all of the remaining non-donor seats get 4,000 displaced season ticket holders. V, UU, and PP, being bleachers would basically round it out with 4500 additional displaced season ticket holders (we’re 500 short, but my math is rough enough here to make that count).

So that’s the practical matters of how much we’re going to get spread out, or at least my best guess at it anyway. The big question remains: who gets moved where?

Here’s my best guess:

If you’re sitting in a donor section and are willing to either keep or start ponying up the donor fees for your seat then I think you’ll be able to sit close to where you always have (see gotcha #1 below for the limitations of that). I suspect 1/3rd of those sitting there are former-donors or long time season ticket holders who aren’t going to be willing to pony up in the future, so those of you who do will be in good shape overall and won’t get signficantly displaced. The big question mark is sections DD, E, II, J and U, the non-donor sections.

There are two big “gotchas” for those sections:

  1. Because they’re going to be seats in these sections, the seat numbers and rows are going to be different. You physically CAN’T sit in the same seats as before. Row 33 won’t be where row 33 is today, nor will seats 4-8 in row 33. So the likely demand of “I want the same seats I had before!” just doesn’t make logical sense.
  2. If you’re thinking “well it might not be the exact same rows and seats, but I can ask for the same area” gotcha #2 is for you: We’ll have been sitting somewhere else for a season or two. We’ll have been at the Oakland Coliseum or Candlestick or something. It’s a lot harder in 2013 to want your old seats back when the last time you sat there was 2010.

So the result on the west side (I’m going to ignore the displaced east side people at this point) is that 4,000 former donors and 6,000 non-donors get to divy up 8,000 seats on the west side and 2,000 of the get displaced to the east side. Perhaps there will be less displaced from the west side against their will if the Blue and Gold zone’s are expanded up to KK and C so that they included all the bleachers and that entices some people to take the cheap seats now that they’ve been displaced from their formerly choice seats.

And what about priority? It’s significant difference sitting in CC from E (or the similar story on the southwest side). It’s anybody’s guess but my gut feeling tells me that length of holding season tickets as well as squeeky wheels will be all that matters. I can’t imagine any other way of doing it. Why would former donors who are new get priority over long-time ticket holders? Why would people who’ve been sitting in E for years get priority over people who’ve had tickets for 30 years but are getting displaced particularly when the specific seats don’t exist anymore? What else is there to go by? I just can’t see any other “fair” metric between non-donors besides how long one has been a season ticket holder.

Other thoughts?

Booster seats selling well

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my biggest concern when I heard about the plan to pay for the Memorial Stadium retrofit, the plan to charge a fortune for luxury boxes and other prime seats to the tune of $50K-$225K per seat over 50 years, my biggest worry was where they were going to find the people who would pay it.

I thought it was a great plan, but they were already having trouble getting people to pay the Bear Backer fees for the seats they had. Heck, I know I’m sitting in seats outside the Bear Backer section because I’m not willing to pony up the big bucks. My 6 seats cost more than I’m comfortable with already.

Additionally, while I know this is harder for people like Jason my co-blogger to hear (because he has those prime seats), I’m OK with the idea that we’re going to kick some former donors or long time season ticket holders out of their prime seats to make room for new donors (or extended donors). At this point, those people will get about 10 seasons of exceptional seats for a program that is good enough to justify doing what other good programs around the country have been doing for a long time. They’ll still get pretty good seats as long-time season ticket holders in the non-donor section when everyone gets shuffled around. I think a 10-year thank you for their loyalty through the thin times is sufficient even thought I don’t begrudge them being disappointed for wanting it to last indefinitely.

The point of that longer-than-intended explination is that I was perfectly happy with plan and its consequences, but I was unsure whether it would work. Were they really going to find 3000 people who had a couple hundred thousand (two seats) to give over the next 30 years?

Well, good news!:

Since Cal began the seat endowment program in January, 40 percent of the 3,000 available seats have been claimed, with about 10 percent paying up front and the rest making 30-year commitments. So far, the university has raised more than $164 million, Rosselli said.

I’d say that’s pretty good progress on the program. Considering that the renovation is going to cost $250 million or so (estimates vary), we’re about half way there! Now admittedly, they’ve only got about $40-$50 million of that in the bank with the rest coming over 30 years, but still, great progress!

Good news all the way around

(As an aside, if you click on the link for the article, do your best to ignore the derisive tone of both the article and the ill-informed commentors. We know what’s going on and whether or not we agree with the mechanism used for raising the money, we know it needs to be raised. Seeing that this mechanism is working suggests the University did the right thing.)