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Archive for September, 2010

UCLA tickets still for sale

I’ve still got 6 tickets for sale for the UCLA game. This is shaping up to be a great game between a better than expected UCLA and a Cal team that always does well at home (particularly against UCLA) and has shown a lot of grit (particularly versus Arizona).

And I’ve got great seats…

While I don’t have donor seats, I still think I’ve got some great seats. First of all, I’m on the isle, in two rows of 3. This helps with knee issues as the person behind you is a friend, not some random dude. Second of all, there’s no seats in front of me. We’re the first two rows above the concourse tunnel, which also gives you more room to stretch out. Add in being close to the tunnel for easy in/out access, that they’re at the right height to have good visibility across the whole field and I think they’re as of seats as you’ll find in the non-donor section. (FYI, this is section DD).

I’m asking face value for the tickets: $53 each. I’d prefer to sell the block of 6 to one person but I will consider breaking it into two groups of 3 if no one is interested in the full set for the game.

E-Mail me at tickets AT excusemeformyvoice DOT com if you’re interested, or leave a comment in the comment section.

Cal cuts 5 sports

Breaking news: Cal has cut 5 sports. Here’s the list:

  1. Baseball
  2. Rugby
  3. Men’s gymnastics
  4. Women’s gymnastics
  5. Women’s lacrosse

The one sport that is a little misleading is Rugby. It will be given “special” status as a “varsity club” sport. They will still have access to most of the facilities reserved for varsity athletes and they’ll still have admission spots reserved for them (non-scholarship). It’s unclear if their coaching staff will have to find a different way to generate their salaries and how they’ll be paying for their travel budget. I do know Rugby already had a pretty sizable income/donation base that covered most of their expenses, so chances are they’ve already figured out how to deal with those revenue issues.

I suspect the reality is that the only reason Rugby got demoted was Title IX reasons. I have plenty I could say on that subject, but considering Rugby took the lightest blow of the 5, now is not the time.

But the rest of the programs… they’re gone. Done. No more. A school with a proud tradition of across the board athletics, has taken a significant step back to just be one of the crowd. It went from the 2nd most sports in the Pac-10 behind Stanford and the 2nd most nation-wide amongst public schools with 27, to just one of the pack with 22.

What a blow to the University.

What’s worse?

I’ve been trying in my mind to sort out which is the worst type of loss, psychologically speaking. I see 4 candidates:

  1. The game you were supposed to win and get blown out
  2. The game you were supposed to win and lose in a nailbiter
  3. The game you were supposed to lose and get blown out
  4. The game you were supposed to lose and lose in a nailbiter

I think #3 is out of the running because you’re prepared for it. It hurts in a dull but growing in strength pain that says things are as bad as you feared.

As for the other 3, we’ve got meaningful candidates for all of them in the last handful of seasons:

  • The 2007 OSU game is the most obvious example of #2. We were supposed to win, couldn’t quite get it together all day and were poised to take it back when disaster struck, stealing a #1 ranking from the Bears. It was quite painful.
  • The 2009 Oregon game is the most obvious example of #1. Oregon was just barely recovering from the Boise debacle and we were poised to win the Pac-10 (sounds silly in retrospect, doesn’t it?). I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone of this, but it was also quite painful.
  • Saturday nights game is the most relevant example of #4 and jeez criminey is it painful!

In the end, I think time is the final judge of what is worst. Frankly, the 2007 OSU loss has had staying power that I doubt the 2009 Oregon game will have. It’s already been somewhat mitigated in its painfulness. But how will Arizona stack up in a few years from now?

And is it even the game on its own merits that makes it painful? Had Cal rebounded from that 2007 OSU game and gone on to win the conference and play in the Rose Bowl, would it have been as painful? What about if we’d lost to USC but otherwise been strong and gone to the Holiday Bowl?

The more I think about that, the more I think that the 2007 OSU loss would have been bad no matter what and it makes #2 the most painful type in my mind.

But those others, not so much. If we rebound from here and go on to play in the Holiday Bowl or something, the pain of this loss will be much less. If we continue to lose, this game may stick out in our minds, but is it really this game, or is it really the losing as a whole that bothers? I’d say as a whole. Same story for 2009 Oregon. It’s less terrible at this point because the Bears did rebound well and beat a number of good teams for the rest of the season. It turns out the Bears weren’t as good as we thought and Oregon was much better.

Going in yet another direction, what about that 2006 Arizona game that sticks in our minds? It fits the #4 scenario and still sticks with us. But again, I think it’s because of what happened afterward. If we had beat USC, nobody would have cared. If USC hadn’t lost to UCLA, it wouldn’t have stung so much. So yet again, it’s contingent on what happened later.

So I guess this is a long way of saying that Saturday’s debacle is highly dependent on what happens from here on out. If Cal wins out and goes to the Rose Bowl, nobody will care. If Cal goes to the Holiday Bowl and this loss didn’t keep us out of the Rose Bowl, nobody will care. But if it’s somehow formative in the outcome of the rest of the season, this one will have staying power.

If there’s a way to communicate this to the team in a whole lot fewer words, it could make a significant difference in how they recover from the blow that this loss is. Depending on how they rebound, this could either be an odd footnote or it could sting for the rest of their/our lives.

Saturday Viewing: Stanford at Oregon

For those who listened to us lament that the Stanford-Oregon game on Oct. 2 would be starting after 11 p.m. Eastern time, good news! Not only has the start time been moved to 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, but it’ll also be the ESPN GameDay location Saturday morning.

Should be a nice showcase for two Pac-10 teams ranked in the top 10. Would be nice if the GameDay crew makes it to Berkeley some year, though…

Saturday Night Dead (OTRH/EMFMV 2010 #5 combo)

Usually after a game, Ken records his thoughts. Well, Ken was sitting at home, Jason was sitting at his home, neither of us were going to sleep anytime soon, so we let it all out. Here it is. A dramatic post-loss podcast that serves as both an On the Road Home and an EMFMV combo. And to the guy in the liveblog asking why we posted our podcast on Thursday last week: enjoy this early one!

We talk about Cal losing 10-9 to Arizona. We are confused about the Pac-10. We don’t know what to make of UCLA. We don’t think the UCLA-WSU game will tell us anything. We are happy about Cal’s defense but confused about the offense. We are confused in general. Also, we mention still-beating hearts being ripped out of chests, get Tucson confused with San Diego, Jason does live play by play of a game that is now over, and more. If you ever wished you could bottle the feeling of two guys talking about Cal in the immediate aftermath of a loss, WISH NO MORE!

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Cal-Arizona Deadblog

Want to see what we said about the game while it was going on. It’s all there after the jump. But whatever you do, don’t mention the score. (more…)

Looking back on ’09: Arizona

(We continue the looking back series for the 2009 season. We’re going to continue the trend of doing these in “matching order” instead of chronological order. Today we look at the Arizona game. Go here for past looking back posts.)

Pre-Game notes and thoughts:
When Arizona came to town, there was only one thing on the minds of Bear fans around the nation: Nothing. We were in shock, in disbelief, in disarray. Jahvid Best’s injury the previous week against Oregon State left everyone shell shocked. We almost didn’t remember that we had lost the game. If we could manage the mental discipline, we’d remember that after similarly terrifying back-to-back losses to USC and Oregon, Cal had ripped off 3 consecutive wins, including a gritty road win over Arizona State, clearly showing that the Bears had rebounded. But now, where were we? Was the rebound over? Was Arizona going to beat Cal for a 3rd year in a row (they were ranked 17th after all)? Who’s asking these questions (because it wasn’t the shell shocked Bears fans)? They only had one question: Will Jahvid be OK?

Scoring and momentum changing plays:

  • The Bears manage to get far enough down field on their first drive, a fairly balanced one, to kick a 46 yard field-goal which Tavecchio nails right down the middle. Bears first to score: 3-0
  • Tavecchio follows up the good FG with a very short kickoff and Arizona starts their drive on their 35.
  • Alualu is so physical pushing his lineman back he’s thrust into the RB who fumbles the ball. Cal recovers at the Arizona 32.
  • Cal gets a somewhat generous pass interference on 3rd and long to keep their drive alive.
  • Vereen spins out of a backfield tackle that would have lost the Bears 10+ yards and turns into a 9 yard gain. An outstanding run.
  • Riley fumbles while running the option play on 3rd and goal from the 2, but luckily the Bears recover. Tavecchio kicks the easy FG. Bears scoring, but only FGs: 6-0
  • Arizona’s RB busts one open for 40 yards getting the ball down to the Cal 18, their first big play, over half way through the 2nd quarter.
  • After getting down to the 2 yard-line by converting a 3rd and 12, Arizona punches it in. Cal’s inability to add points through their domination early, puts them in a hole: 6-7
  • After forcing a 3 and out for Cal and using timeouts to give them one last shot before halftime, Arizona kicks a 37 yard field-goal. Bears down by 4: 6-10.
  • Cal takes advantage of the 30 seconds left before half and on the back of a long pass to Tucker, Tavecchio kicks a 50 yard field-goal to negate Arizona’s. Down to a one-point game at halftime: 9-10
  • On the opening drive of the 2nd half, Josh Hill intercepts a ball that Foles tries to thread into too small a hole. Unfortunately the drive stalls and Tavecchio misses this one, his third long field goal attempt of the game.
  • Riley under throws a wide open Boateng for what should have been an easy TD but instead is a interception at the Cal 3 yard line.
  • After the D forces a 3 and out and a shanked punt gives Cal the ball back inside the Arizona 30, it just takes one chuck to Skylar Curran in the endzone, who manages to come down with it despite the aggressive pass interference call. Bears go for the 2-point conversion and fail but Bears back in front: 15-10
  • Jeremy Ross has a strong punt return back inside the Arizona 30, giving Cal yet another short field to work with.
  • But Riley throws what has to be the most ridiculous interception of his career, panicking when the rush came through quick and floating a duck into the endzone where no Cal receivers are and is easily caught by the waiting safety for an interception and touch back.
  • Cal gets called for two (correct) pass interference calls on an Arizona drive that keep it alive and eventually Foles connects with his TE on 1st and goal from the 9. They too go for the 2-point conversion and fail. Bears back down by one: 15-16.
  • After Riley connects with Tucker to get on the right side of the field, Vereen and DeBoskie trade off runs that get the ball down into the redzone. Alas the drive stalls yet again when Cal can’t convert on 3rd and 9, but Tavecchio kicks his 4th field-goal. Bears back on top: 18-16
  • Tavecchio saves a long kickoff runback, tackling the runner with his legs at a critical moment in the game (4:30 left)
  • After getting in field position mostly on the back of Foles passing, Foles throws the ball twice in one down after it is batted down on 3rd and 3 from the 25. Instead they have to go for it on 4th and 17 from the 39, which they don’t convert.
  • On Cal’s next play, Vereen busts through a big hole for a 61 yard touchdown run. Bears miss the extra point giving Arizona just a smidgen of light leaving it a one score game: 24-16
  • Cal breaks up a long pass by Foles, then sacks him twice (2nd and 4th down) to put an end to it.


  • Even though the Bears were able to force a punt on Arizona’s first drive, the Arizona running game was working pretty effectively, picking up 5+ on most runs.
  • After that first drive, the Cal defense was a lot stiffer than the first. Forcing a number of punts and getting the ball back to the Cal offense.
  • The Cal offense had pretty good rhythm but no finishing power in the 1st quarter.
  • Foles, while not particularly fast, did a pretty good job of avoiding would-be sackers and extending the play a number of times throughout the game.
  • The Bear defense was definitely firing on all cylinders on this day. Their stretch plays weren’t working with both corners, Syd in particular, doing a great job of shedding their blockers. The inside run game was just not working for Arizona and the pass coverage was good enough to get the job done. A very strong performance.
  • At one point Arizona was so frustrated with their offense’s play that they benched Foles and brought in their young running QB. He was no more effective as Cal collapsed on his obvious run plays. It didn’t even last a full drive before Foles was back out there.
  • Riley was most definitely not having one of his best performances in the 2nd half. There were a couple opportunities for Cal to stick a knife in Arizona but his interceptions kept killing otherwise promising situations.
  • As much as the penalty on that double throw was big, the reality was that it was trouble the minute it was batted down and Foles caught it. He was unlikely to get past the 30 yard line with the defense in pursuit, and that’s being generous. Either way it’s 4th down and a long FG attempt for a weak kicker or go for it on 4th down.
  • Overall the Cal defense played a gritty game that gave the offense enough opportunities to score the points needed to win.

Implications for 2010:
There’s no doubt that Cal matches up well against Arizona with their return to a more traditional offense. Cal had them bottled up all night. If Riley can play a good consistent game, Cal can provide enough balance to move the ball against Arizona. There should also be some open receivers down the field the way Arizona plays an aggressive defense. Riley couldn’t hit them in 2009, but if he can make a couple of those in 2010, it could really break the game open. But I have a fair amount of optimism that the Cal D-Line will do well enough to allow the linebackers to be disruptive like they did in 2009. All of this is predicated on not letting the crowd dictate the emotions on the field, but based on the teams on paper, Cal most definitely has a shot at this one.

This game was stuck in a fog for me between the Best injury and the Big Game. It was good to re-watch it. The reality is the defense was the key to the game. The bottled up the Arizona run game and kept Foles in check (although he got stronger as the game wore on). I had forgotten just how mistake prone Riley was. Had he been more consistent, the game wouldn’t have even been close.

Looking back on ’08: Arizona

(We pick back up the looking back series for the 2008 season after it fell apart when the traveling schedule started taking it’s toll (starting with UCLA) last season. I didn’t even get to these games from 2 years ago in the off-season! So now you’ll get two years worth of looking back games in some weeks. Go here for past posts.)

Pre-Game notes and thoughts:
The Bears entered this mid-October game ranked 25th, and 4-1 (2-0 in conference), having rebounded from their ranking killing loss to Maryland in September with 2 wins over Colorado State and Arizona State, both at home. Longshore had taken back over the starting spot from Kevin Riley the previous week against ASU after inconsistent performances in the Maryland and CSU games lost Riley his job. Longshore would be starting for the 2nd straight week. Was this Longshore’s time to shine as a senior? They were also the only team undefeated in conference play, admittedly having played two of the weakest teams (although that wasn’t as clear about ASU at the time as it is in retrospect), with USC having lost to Oregon State. Could this be the year that Cal broke through? Would the Arizona game be their downfall again as it was in 2006? Would Longshore have another mistake filled trip to the desert as in 2006 at Arizona and 2007 at ASU? Arizona didn’t seem like that big of a challenge in 2008, having lost to New Mexico and having been destroyed by Stanford, also considered poor at the time, in Palo Alto. But the 2006 edition of Arizona wasn’t very strong either. Only time would tell if the Bears were going to continue to roll.

Scoring and momentum changing plays:

  • Nyan Boateng does a false start on 3rd and 4 when Arizona had jumped offside, forcing a 3rd and 9 that the Bears can’t convert on their 1st drive of the game.
  • Arizona’s RB Grigsby fumbles the ball when Felder punches the ball out on their own 43 giving the Bears the ball back quickly and with a short field.
  • Longshore hits Verran Tucker on a slant for a 35 yard gain down to the 9 yard line.
  • Verran Tucker makes a diving catch in the back of the endzone on 3rd and goal from the 2. Bears start the game off right: 7-0
  • Tuitama throws a middle screen over the head of the intended receiver right into Anthony Felder’s hands, giving Cal the ball back at midfield after the run back, killing an otherwise promising drive for Arizona.
  • Longshore overthrows a wide open Tucker on the long ball right after the interception, giving up a nearly free opportunity for a 14-0 lead. Alas he was off the mark.
  • Tedford decides to have Tavecchio kick on 4th and 3 from the 34. Tavecchio’s 51 yard kick was long enough but wide right by just a foot or two.
  • The Arizona run game wears down the Bear defense and a 20 yard run finishes off a power drive. The game is tied: 7-7
  • Arizona’s Thomas busts off a 40 yard punt return to setup Arizona on the Cal side of the field after Cal 3 and outs.
  • A pass to the TE after the linebacker suck up and a 10 yard power run up the middle was all it took by Arizona to score another TD. Bears loses two scores in 2 minutes: 7-14
  • After Cal and Arizona trade punts, Best busts out one of his signature long runs accelerating away from the safety and into the endzone. Game is tied: 14-14
  • After an Arizona 3 and out and Best continuing to work well in open space, Longshore gets a long ball down to Tucker at the 3 yard line.
  • Even after a 15-yard chop block penalty gives Cal a near impossible 1st and goal from the 18 yard-line, Longshore gets a great pass to Morrah in the corner of the endzone. Bears rebound to take lead back: 21-14
  • After a couple punts back and forth, the Bears manage to get a 43 yard field-goal off before halftime and the Bears get one last score before the half. Halftime score: 24-14
  • On the first drive on the 2nd half, SydQuan gets beat on a deep slant (an unusual occurrence if there is one) and Arizona gets an all too easy TD. Lead is down to the pre-halftime FG: 24-21
  • Follett gets a monster sack on 3rd and 12, sacking Tuitama on the 2 yard line, forcing the short punt.
  • The Bears get just enough to get into field-goal range. Bears slowly growing lead: 27-21
  • The Bears go with some weird defensive alignment of the d-line (a tight bunch) and Arizona exposes it for a 50 yard run that only Ezeff is able to save from a touchdown. It only takes two goal-line runs to ram it in. Arizona back in front: 27-28
  • Longshore throws what has become his signature throw: The quick out for an interception for a TD. This one is a bit odd as Verran Tucker and the DB fight over the ball, but eventually the DB strips it away for the TD. Puts a stake through the heart of Cal with another streak to two quick TD’s from Arizona: 27-35
  • Tuitama throws a nice ball to their stud TE who bowls over Felder and Ezeff en route to the 35 yard touchdown. Make that 3 quick TDs: 27-42
  • After Longshore is given a couple more chances, and looks desperate slinging the ball down field every play, Riley comes in as QB with 10 minutes left in the game.
  • Riley over throws Morrah who tips the ball, which is then tipped up by an Arizona DB and finally intercepted. A bad throw, but also a bad bounce.
  • Ross catches a tough ball on 4th and 9 with just over 4 minutes left, keeping hope alive.
  • After failing to convert on another 4th down, the defense steps up and gives the offense the ball back with 3 minutes left.
  • Riley is sacked on 4th and 15 with 1:30 left, effectively ending the game.


  • Tavecchio was in for David Seawright after Seawright strained his groin muscle and looked really shaky, particularly on kickoffs.
  • Although the didn’t have the ball much, Arizona’s outside run game was working well on their first drive. It was creating nice running lanes for them and they were still running with power.
  • Cal really had the chance to take the Arizona crowd out of the game early with the two turnovers, but the lack of execution on the second opportunity, made it so one TD from Arizona was all it took to get them back in it.
  • It’s easy to forget how good the linebacker crew was in 2008. Felder, Follett, Williams, Mohamed and Young. We just don’t have the same quality of guys these days.
  • The Bears inability to get some distance from Arizona with stalled drives kept the crowd in the game. Just like early in the game, that TD to start the second half took it down to a small 3-point lead. Then when the Bears only scored a field-goal later in the quarter, it still kept it a one score game and the crowd was still in it.
  • At the time I watched the game, I felt like Arizona dominated physically and Cal was the scrappy team holding in. But watching it now, Arizona was the team that really was on the weak side and kept coming up with key scores. Their two sets of back-to-back TD’s were the key to this game and both where the result of mistakes by Cal, not by dominating play by Arizona.
  • The crowd went into over-drive after that pick-6. You could visibly see the difference in how Cal played after the interception.
  • If the 2 quick scores had the Bears rattled, the 3 quick scores had the Bears desperate. It was all long throws on the next possession.
  • After that 3rd quick score, the Bear defense tightened substantially and really locked down the Arizona run game.

Implications for 2009/2010:
If I had done this review in 2009, I think I would have had a lot more confidence in the Bears ability to upset Arizona at home last year. This 2008 game was really all about those quick strikes by Arizona and in a lot of ways Cal showed as the stronger team. Tuitama was also a big factor and with a new QB in 2009, that had to go against Arizona (which it did). Moving on to 2010, the key to Arizona is to get the crowd out of it and KEEP them out of it. Cal had lots of opportunities in this game to break it open early and they ended up settling for field goal attempts, one of which was missed. The Bears could have been up 31-7 at halftime with the turnovers that Arizona handed them and the mistakes that Cal made. That would have kept the crowd at bay and allowed Cal to focus on stopping the passing game. A lone TD to open the 2nd half wouldn’t have energized the crowd. Cal needs to come out strong on Saturday and get up by a couple scores and stay that way.

As I said a few times, this game was a lot closer than I remember and there’s a lot to suggest the Bears were the better team that day but mistakes and the bounce of the ball didn’t go the Bears way. You take away the signature Longshore interception and the freebee TD’s given up and the Bears win this game.

What Happens in Reno, Stays in Reno (EMFMV 2010 #4)

Sorting through the ashes of Nevada and looking forward(?) to Arizona, it’s the latest EMFMV podcast with Jason and Ken! We come to grips with Cal’s loss to Nevada. But there’s hope! We are both optimistic that there’s definitely a chance Cal might win in Arizona. And what’s being a Cal fan about, other than hope in the face of long odds? We also talk the Pac-10, Ken shows his optimism for the rest of Cal’s season, we cheer the soon-arriving Pac-12 conference, and discuss whether or not Jeff Tedford should be fired. (Spoiler alert: Not.) Plus the secret word turns into a math problem. Please listen, won’t you?

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Colorado to join conference in 2011

Well, Larry Scott pulled off another one. He managed to play enough hardball with the Big-12 to get Colorado into the conference next year.

You can read more details from Ted Miller.

It’ll be nice not to have a transitional year and get straight to the Pac-10 and the conference championship game. Other than that, it’s not a huge deal, although it’s nice to see Larry Scott continue to negotiate issues skill.

All that we need now is the division alignments. That will be a far larger and much more controversial deal and should be decided during the October Pac-10 meeting.

Garbage from ESPN

OK, this is one of those things that getting too worked up about is stupid, but nevertheless, it’s ridiculous:

Check out ESPN’s bottom-10 worst teams in the nation and who comes in at #5. Cal.

BULLSH… (Oops, family safe site)

Look at all the other teams on the list. Not a single one has a win, much less two. Heck, not a single team on the “waiting list” has two wins. Notice that the FBS team we beat soundly, Colorado, is not on the list, nor even in the “Waiting list” (of course the FCS team wouldn’t be on the list, so that’s why they’re not relevant). It’s just stupid. There’s no way to objectively justify their being on the list nor have a reasonable reply to my above objections.

It’s nothing more than this bozo Mark Schlabum just not liking that Cal was ranked and picking on them because he doesn’t like that Cal occasionally gets respect he thinks we don’t deserve. It’s the pinnacle of a lack of objectivity.

The reality is quite different. Cal is still a top-50 team who lost a shootout to another top-50 team. There’s no way they belong in the bottom-10 (teams “ranked” 110 to 119).

Bogus move Mark Schlabach.

Update at 5:00 PM: Reading the comments on the Bottom-10 article, the #5 spot on the list is reserved for teams that didn’t live up to expectations that week. In that case, I change my objection. He’s not an idiot for thinking too little of Cal. He’s an idiot for not knowing how to make a list. If he wants to have a “team that most under performed” item or list, that should be, you know, outside the bottom-10 now shouldn’t it?

Again, nothing to get too worked up about in either case.

Minor Pick’Em change

For all of you who participate in the Pick’Em league, a minor change to let you know about:

I’ve slightly changed the format of the tables where you enter your scores. I’ve done two things:

  1. The rows are shorter so it’s more compact on the screen.
  2. I put each score next to each team, instead of “away@home” followed by both entry boxes, it’s away (entry box), home (entry box).

Both changes are meant to help with the same thing: user error where people are swapping the scores for the two teams. I’ve gotten a number of minor complaints about being frustrated with making that mistake. By way of hypothetical example, imagine someone, oh I don’t know, put 17 for the Nebraska score and 30 for the Washington score instead of 30 for Nebraska and 17 for Washington like they meant to. They’d be pretty frustrated, that imaginary person, don’t you think? I’m definitely not making the change now because of this theoretical person who made such a stupid mistake and would be in 4th place instead of 9th if I’d, errr, they’d, entered it right.

Nope, making sure that never happens to “them” again, that’s got nothing to do with it.

Points I’m willing to concede about Tedford

OK, a couple more thoughts on Tedford’s job security…

I’m willing to concede the following points:

  1. Tedford may be paid a bit much. He’s worth $1.5 million or so, maybe even bordering on $2M. The $2.5+M is a bit more than his performance is worth, when basing it on what other coaches make.
  2. Tedford is not a “great coach”. He’s a good coach, but there are clearly times when he’s still learning and times when his mistakes (or the mistakes of his staff) are pretty frustrating, particularly when no halftime adjustments seem to help.

That’s about it. In every other way, I think he’s the perfect head coach for Berkeley. He’s recruited well, considering his facilities. He’s a stand-up guy who always does the right thing by his coaches, players and the University as a whole. He’s won a LOT of games that we’d never have won in the past. He’s brought the fans back to Berkeley. He’s gotten the money and facilities moving in a way I just about never thought would happen.

So what do we do with the fact that he makes a bit too much? One option is to dump him and pay him all the money his buyout is worth. Then we’ve either got to get a budget coach or pay just as much if not more for someone better. The other option is to just keep paying him. I’d argue that we’ll get a better value for our dollar by just paying him. The only thing to do is when he contract is up is to make the next one a little less and perhaps give him bigger incentive clauses. Maybe $1.5M for every BCS game appearance but only $1.5M base? I don’t know exactly what, but I think it’s obvious conceptually what I’m suggesting.

The overall point is that this isn’t something worth focusing. OK, OK, we can be upset we lost, but let’s focus our energy somewhere else besides whether Tedford deserve to be fired. It’s just not going to happen, at least for another 3 years (isn’t the contract through 2014?). It’s just not worth banging our heads against that wall.

Tedford under fire

I can tell you whether Cal lost a game just based on the blog statistics. Every time they lose, I get a handful of Google searches headed this way with the search term “Fire Tedford” or “Fire Jeff Tedford” or something like that. It usually refers them to a post titled Fire Tedford. Are you NVTS!?! that I wrote in 2007 during the collapse.

As much as the details are different, the overall point still rings true. A day may come when it’s time for Tedford to go, but it’s not remotely close to that time yet. People have completely forgotten what the alternative has been in the past and are way to arrogant to think that whoever we get to replace him will not be any worse. Go ask UCLA about all the coaches they’ve fired and how it worked out.

At least see what he does for the rest of the season for crying out loud.

Nevada OTRH Podcast

I think all of us wonder what the rest of us are like after a loss like this, stewing in our living rooms over the disaster that unfolded. Sometimes you get an insight into that in these podcasts… but not today. For some reason I fairly quickly calmed down when recording this one. Although a bit of that seething fury started rearing its ugly head during the discussion of the read option.


Random Pac-10 game thoughts

It’s a new morning and for some reason things feel surprisingly sane. The Bears have struggled on the road in non-conference. The Bears have struggled against a quirky offense. Everything feels surprisingly normal. But you know what? I’m pretty happy with the current Cal Bear Football Normal. It’s a lot better than the pre-Tedford normal.

In any case, with the non-conference slate behind us it’s time to focus on conference play, and what better way to do that than watching the rest of the conference play football all day? Come back throughout the day for my thoughts on the games today:

  • Boy, at first it looked like Nebraska was just going to destroy Washington, I mean, they OWNED the line of scrimmage on those first two TD drives. But with Washington having a good drive of their own and now playing Nebraska straight up since then, this 14-7 Nebraska lead is not so big. I still get the feeling Nebraska wins. They’ll wear Washington down.
  • USC and Minnesota are playing a pretty straight up game. USC seems to have a slight physical edge. But USC’s defense still looks like it’s got too many holes and it could be that as even as things are now, a few defensive mistakes could cost USC the game. (Current score: 7-7)
  • Oh wow. Apparently I’m watching the wrong game. ASU is up 7-3 over Wisconsin mid-2nd quarter. I thought for sure that one was going to be a blowout. Switching to ESPN2…
  • Looks like the power teams are starting to (re)assert themselves with USC on top 13-7 and Nebraska adding a 3rd TD to go up 21-7.
  • Halftime scores: USC is holding their 13-7 lead. Nebraska added a long TD drive and Washington got a fumble recovery for a short TD drive, 28-14 Neb. Wisconsin is starting to impose their will on ASU, and are now up 13-10 over ASU. And no on TV (at least with my sat package) SMU and WSU are tied at the half at 14. That’s a better performance than I expected.
  • Boy, what a shootout in Seattle. After trading touchdowns in the 1st minute of the 2nd half (one read-option run by Neb, one long pass by UW) Neb added 2 TD’s, one long run, one INT for a touchdown. This one’s out of hand: 49-21 Nebraska. I’m switching back to the other two where USC’s added two field goals to be up 19-13 and ASU and Wisconsin are all tied at 13.
  • USC is asserting itself more against Minnesota, up now 33-14 with dominating line play. ASU continues to play it close. They gave up one score and are down 13-20, but it’s been a stalemate the last few possessions. They’re really the positive surprise in the Pac-10 so far, particularly now that WSU is down 14-28 to SMU.
  • The Oregon State game is underway against Louiville. I sure hope they represent the Pac-10 well. We need all the help we can get right now. Between Cal, WSU, and UW, the Pac-10 has not represented very well so far. They’re up 7-0 and will soon be my 2nd active game now that USC is putting things away.
  • ASU continues to hang tough with a nice TD drive that would have tied it if the extra point hadn’t been blocked. What a tough blow. ASU’s new QB Threet is pretty darned good. Looks like ASU might be the upside surprise of the conference. Still down by 1 point, 19-20 with 4 minutes left.
  • In other games, Oregon is off to a fast start, up 21-0 just 5 minutes in. OSU still has a TD lead 14-7, unfortunately I don’t have that one on TV either. And the UW game is just as out of hand as before.
  • Well, that extra point sunk ASU, losing 19-20 (they never got the ball back), but look out for them. I’m thankful we get them in Berkeley. USC finished off thier 32-21 win, Minnesota getting a too-little-too-late TD. Nebraska finished off their 56-21 blowout. Huskies offense looked like it had potential, but the defense looks pretty bad. WSU couldn’t rebound either, losing 21-35. In progress we have Oregon State up 21-14 at the half. They’re getting significantly outgained on the ground, so that could be trouble later, but the Beavers do get the ball to start the 2nd half. Oregon continues to roll. Not sure why they’re stalled at 21-0, but does it really matter? Unfortunately neither of these two games are on TV. We do have a slate of 3 games on TV tonight. Houston at UCLA, Wake Forrest at Stanford and Iowa at Arizona. So while we started off the day rough at 1-3 (1-4 if you include the Friday night disaster), the record will likely improve with some better matchups and ones at home. I’d bet $20 that ASU would have won their game at home. They came up just short on the road and were mistake prone. They really shoulda won that game.
  • The afternoon games both went the Pac-10’s way. Oregon demolished Portland State, of course, 69-0. I think I predicted 63-0, so nothing unexpected there. Of course this game doesn’t mean much, but they’re definitely firing on all cylinders and are without a doubt the top of the conference until proven otherwise. Oregon State opened up a 3 TD lead and then let Louisville back into it, but managed to hold on 35-28. Not as convincing a win as I’d like and it doesn’t bode well for their trip to the Potato Patch next Saturday, but a win is a win.
  • We’ve learned two things tonight in the Iowa at Arizona game: 1. Iowa is over-rated. I’m sorry #9 teams don’t make the sort of mistakes they’re making tonight. 2. Arizona has a lot of intensity and their fans are matching that intensity. I’m not yet sold on the quality of either team and I’ve seen a lot of sloppy play in the 1st half. Foles has been pretty good as has the Arizona run defense, but other than that, this doesn’t feel like the matchup of 2 ranked teams.
  • The big surprise to me of the night is UCLA absolutely owning Houston. 21-3 at the half. The big question mark is how good is Houston, but it may be that UCLA’s demise was too anxiously announced.
  • The Stanford vs. Wake Forrest game has been pretty ho-hum, with Stanford playing physical and winning and Wake Forrest not playing horribly but not exactly keeping pace. Luck continues to be the most over-rated QB in the conference and is getting bailed out over and over by his receivers with his off-target passes. Then he’s missing plenty of others. Don’t get me wrong, he’s obviously a Pac-10 quality QB, but he’s not “the nation’s best” or whatever the latest platitude some ignorant announcer has been throwing his way.
  • Boy, that Arizona/Iowa game was a crazy one. After a sloppy and slow 3rd quarter that about put me to sleep, Iowa closed the gap to 21-27 and then picked off a pass by getting Foles to channel his inner Longshore. But they missed the extra point to leave it tied and the let Arizona get down the field WAY too easy to score a touchdown. Once the crowd and defense was re-energized, they shut Iowa down for the 34-27 win. So that’s a good one for the Pac-10 but also in a way that leaves me optimistic that Arizona is a team that can be beat. They had 20 points off of turnovers and minus their run defense, looked a bit sloppy.
  • UCLA finished out their dominating performance over Houston, although they played the 2nd half near even, final score: 31-13
  • Stanford put the accelerator down and is in beat-down mode, the current score being 68-24.
  • Overall the Pac-10 recovered well today with Washington being the lone sore point. It would have been nice to see them be more competitive. Across the rest of the conference, minus WSU, everyone represented well. The only problem is that half the country was already in bed for the strong half of the performance.

And with that, I’m calling it a night.

Cal at Nevada Deadblog

6:52 Jason Snell: Hi everyone. Jason reporting to you live from my house.

6:52 Jason Snell: Are you ready for some inappropriately timed football??


Nevada preview

The role of a Cal fan is one generally with the same symptoms as a person with bipolar disorder. What’s different is the frequency with which we can switch back and forth. I’m finding myself stuck in that quickly vacillating rut.

Part of me looks at this Nevada team and is scared… really, really, really scared. Are we going to spend all evening having flashbacks to Oregon 2009? Or perhaps Armed Forces bowl 2007, the first half anyway. Could this Nevada team spread us out, until we hold water as well as a colander? Could the Bear offense not do as well if it’s not getting the ball back repeated after 3 and outs? Do the Bears have what it takes to win a shootout? It all leaves me very nervous.

But then there’s the part of me that wants to give a dogbert “BAH!” to Nevada. Look at their small and mediocre defense. We’re going to crush them with ball control. We’re going to disrupt their offensive line (although the size of their offensive line gives a moment’s pause). Look what Notre Dame, yeah, ND, that Catholic team (Ken makes the sign of the cross) that lost to the Stanford team we manhandled last year… look what they did to Nevada!

So which of my inner personalities wins this one?

Well, it’s a little of both. I think Nevada will put up some points early while their offense slightly confuses the Bears, but the Bears offense wins the day and keeps the ball away from Nevada. Bears win what looks like a shootout in the 1st half and turns into a ball-control win in the 2nd:

Bears 45, Nevada 27

Stats section working

Just an FYI that the stats section is working. It wasn’t working right away because the place I get my stats from changed their formatting and I had to rework my scripts to parse everything differently. Now I have to do some additional future proofing work, as well.

For those who haven’t used it, the reason I do my own stat page is because I get opponent stats for comparison’s sake. So, let’s say you’re looking at, oh I don’t know, Nevada, and you want to know whether their nation leading 592 yards a game is impressive. Or perhaps the Bears nation leading defensive yards. How do we know if it’s meaningful?

Well one way is to see how many yards Nevada and Cal’s opponents have been giving up or putting up respectively. When you see that Nevada’s opponents are giving up nearly 500 yards a game, it takes a little bit of the heft out of their stats, as for that matter does the fact that Cal’s opponents are only gaining 209 a game.

Really these stats mean more 4+ weeks in when there are more opponent numbers to balance things out, but even now, it gives a comparison point, albeit a bit weak, to work from.

Check it out by clicking on the “Stats” link on the header or going to

Looking back on ’09: Maryland

(We continue the looking back series for the 2009 season. We’re going to continue the trend of doing these in “matching order” instead of chronological order. Today we match last year’s “B” non-conference team, Maryland with this year’s “B” non-conference team, Nevada. Go here for past looking back posts.)

Pre-Game notes and thoughts:
Cal started off the season ranked 12th and anxious to get off to a good start versus a Maryland team that had embarrassed Cal in 2008 on the other side of the country. Maryland had ended up being better than expected in 2008, ending the season 8-5 with a convincing win over Nevada in their bowl game. They were also implementing a new, much more aggressive defense, which was expected to make them even better. It was expected to be a good test to start the season. The Bears wanted payback, and it made them smile that after having to start the game at 9:00 AM home-time in 2008, Maryland had to start at 10:00 PM home-time for the rematch, and Maryland wanted to show that the 2008 victory wasn’t a fluke or home-aided.

Scoring and momentum changing plays:

  • Maryland just barely doesn’t get off a 3rd and short play that would have been a 1st down due to a delay of game. After a holding penalty to boot, Maryland’s 2nd drive stalled when they couldn’t convert on 3rd and 16.
  • Jahvid Best busts through a sizeable hole in the line, partially opened by the faked fly-sweep, and runs for a 73 yard touchdown run, using Verran Tucker as a lead blocker on the safety. Bears up early: 7-0
  • On the ensuing kickoff, Little hits the returner hard and pops the ball loose and DJ Campbell recovers giving Cal the ball back right after the 1st TD.
  • Best leaps over the line on the 2nd play of the drive for an all too easy TD. Bears opening the can in less than a minute: 14-0.
  • Maryland’s returner redeems himself a little, taking the always short kickoff to the Cal 37 yard-line stealing back some momentum from Cal.
  • After a formation foul negates a Maryland TD, Alualu bats down a 3rd and goal pass, forcing the short field-goal. Bears still up by two scores: 14-3
  • After Owusu gets a sack taking Maryland out of field-goal range on 3rd down, Maryland converts 4th and 9 to keep the drive alive.
  • After Maryland’s drive stalled on yet another sack, they kick the field-goal. Lead is now down to one score: 14-6
  • Verran Tucker makes a nice recovery and catch while being fouled on a deep ball that Riley well under threw.
  • Riley is sacked on 1st and goal from the 9, setting up a difficult 2nd and goal from the 14.
  • Bears settle for the field-goal. Lead back to 11: 17-6
  • Bishop knocks out the ball on a short run and Cameron Jordan recovers giving Cal the ball at midfield and ending what was otherwise starting to look like a promising drive for Maryland.
  • Marvin Jones hauls in a poor pass from Riley (too hard and too high), giving Cal a 1st and goal from the 3.
  • Riley does a great job to evade a would-be sacker and then finds Skyler Curran in the endzone for a TD. Bears establish a big lead: 24-6
  • Cal gets back-to-back sacks from Owusu and Price late in the 1st half, killing Maryland’s chances to get a momentum gaining end-of-half touchdown.
  • Nyan Boateng is WIDE open as Cal is executing the 2-minute offense and scores an easy 40 yard touchdown before halftime. Bears up huge before halftime: 31-6
  • Best starts off the 2nd half with a 40 yard run, which on the back of Vereen’s kickoff return to midfield, has the Bears in the redzone less than 30 seconds into the half.
  • Vereen finishes off the drive with a 2 tackle shreading TD run. Bears making it a blowout: 38-6
  • On the Bears next possession, Jones gets behind his DB and Riley lays a beautiful rainbow in his hands and Jones gets another TD. Game officially out of hand: 45-6
  • Maryland finally gets something to cheer about on a long run play for a touchdown. Still a blowout: 45-13
  • Riley throws a swingout pass to Vereen who dodges a couple would-be tacklers en route to the endzone. Bears finish the scoring early in the 4th quarter: 52-13


  • It was amazing to see the difference in Tavecchio’s kickoffs last year. They were pathetically short in this game.
  • The offensive line was not doing a great job in pass blocking early in the game. Riley had to get rid of the ball early a number of times. That was in part due to the aggressive schemes of Maryland, but also you got the feeling there were some issues.
  • Maryland’s QB Turner was not very accurate in the 1st quarter and the opportunities they had were often spoiled by poor throws.
  • Cal was bringing a lot of defensive heat in the 1st half, and did a lot to rattle Maryland’s QB in addition to the sacks they racked up.
  • SydQuan was in top form for this game, with a number of key breakups in the 1st half.
  • There were two points in the game that really put a stake through the heart of Maryland in the 1st half: The first was the quick back-to-back TD’s to start off the scoring. The second was the end of half touchdown to put the game effectively out of reach (remarkable comebacks aside) before halftime.
  • Riley’s accuracy in the second half was significantly better than in the 1st. He really played much better than the first, particularly on the long throws.
  • It’s funny to hear the hype that we know doesn’t work out. Tedford thinks this offensive line will be better than the 2008 version (uh, that would be NO!) This should be one of the best defenses in the nation (well, reasonable thought at the time, but SO far from the truth). Cal will challenge USC this year (oh how painfully not true). Etc.
  • It was interesting to see how much pressure Cal got on the QB in this game. 6 sacks! It sure seemed like the defense was as good as the 2008 edition at that point with all the same characteristics.
  • By the 4th quarter Cal was subbing in a lot of backups outside of Riley. Best was nowhere to be seen. WR’s like Lageman were getting playing time. Etc.
  • Here’s something from this game that was a precursor to later in the season: 5 of Cal’s TD drives were 2 minutes or less. Cal was most definitely a quick strike offense last year. Unfortunately, that’s all they were.
  • The 4th quarter was a pretty lazy affair on both sides of the ball with both teams sticking to a conservative run game to run out the clock, Maryland wanting it over just as much as the Bears.

Implications for 2010:
I don’t know that there is much about this game that necessarily applies to Nevada or to any other game in 2010 other than to serve as a warning to this 2-0 team. We thought beating Maryland meant something. It turns out they’d go 2-10 last year, one of those wins being over lowly James Madison and losses to Middle Tennessee, Duke, Rutgers and North Carolina State not doing much to help their resume. Who has a hard time believing that Colorado could suffer a similar fate? The Bears will need to prove their mettle this year in the Pac-10 and any non-conference success needs to be taken with a grain, nay a pound, of salt.

It was nice to see the Bears get revenge for their loss to Maryland in 2008, but at the same time, it’s sad that the Bears keep needing this sort of redemption. The 2007 Tennessee game was the same way. Let’s hope the Bears won’t be looking for redemption from Nevada when they come to play in Berkeley in the future.