Updated Pac-10 Helmet Schedule

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, April 6th, 2008

pac102008schedule3


Tennessee and UCLA rescheduled their matchup to Labor Day
, so the original Pac-10 helmet schedule had to be updated. I have a feeling I’ll be updating this about ten more times before the season starts, but no biggie.

Again, you can click on the image above for something visually readable, and you can also download it as an Excel file by right-clicking on the link at the end and choosing “Save Link As”, which gives you the option to click on the helmets for direct links to buying tickets for most games. Enjoy.

EDIT: My bad–I forgot to say that Oregon St. and Stanford are facing one another on Thursday night, opening night. That’s fixed now in the uploaded version. Sorry about that.

Pac-10 2008 Helmet Schedule (Excel file)

Ask the Readers: Q&A

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, April 5th, 2008

It’s going to be a strange week. Either I’m going to be doing double-duty on two blogs or I’m taking a week off from writing about Cal football. Not the worst thing in the world, although this blog might look super strange for a week. In all honesty I don’t know whether to root for winning my bracket or what-not.

So during this offweek, this might be a good time for you guys to ask any questions you’d like me to find answers to. Why was Cal’s collapse so sudden and unprecedented? What did the rest of the Pac-10 do that Cal didn’t during the 2nd half of the year? Who’s performing the best in spring practices? What pieces of Golden Bear gamefilm would you like me to review? What are the issues that you want to discuss? Who are the most beautiful Berkeley athletes not named Allison Stokke? Do you guys have any questions for me?

You can leave these questions in the comments or email them to me directly. This should be good inspiration for post ideas and provide a more detailed “About the Author” section, which is pretty bare-boned right now.

I’ll answer these questions hopefully by next week. For those of you who’ve hung around, thanks. I hope to get better at this as the weeks pass.

Topics: Q&A | Comments Off on Ask the Readers: Q&A

Mike Montgomery to Cal

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, April 4th, 2008

mikemontgomery

I swear when I read the opening headlines on the Cal sites this morning, my football-addled mind thought James Montgomery was coming back.

Former Stanford and Golden State Warriors coach Mike Montgomery has agreed in principle to replace Ben Braun at rival California, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Braun was fired as coach last Wednesday after 12 years at Cal.

Montgomery led Stanford to the 1998 Final Four and helped resurrect the Cardinal into a national program.

The move to Stanford’s chief rival comes as a surprise given Montgomery’s former and current links to the Cardinal. His former assistant, Trent Johnson, replaced Montgomery at Stanford. Most recently, Montgomery has been working as an assistant to Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, as well as working in television for Fox Sports Net.

Montgomery compiled a 393-167 record with 12 NCAA tournament appearances in his 18 seasons at Stanford, making him the school’s winningest men’s basketball coach.

Here are my preliminary, uninformed, thoughts, which I move to strike from the record if I choose to.

He’s old. I mean, 61 is old in college basketball. Even John Wooden didn’t last past 65. Bob Knight seems to have exhausted himself at 67. He’s ratched down for 6 years and $10 mil, which means he’ll be 67 when he’s done. Is he really going to fit in on the sidelines? Cal basketball certainly does not attract as well as Cal football does.

He was terrible in the NBA. This doesn’t need much disputing, although the Warriors were a far worse team during this tenure.

His resume speaks for itself–25 winning seasons, 10 NCAA tournament appearances. So we should at least make the bump back to a decent team. I think.

I’ve heard some rumors about him being a so-so recruiter. Which doesn’t mean anything to me, since it’s not as if Braun was gifted in this realm either. Incremental steps is the term of the day, methinks.

Here are the voices you can listen to in the meantime, because this has to be the worst article I’ve ever written:
Monty to Cal!
Intro To Monty
Monty’s coming to Cal

Purdy: Montgomery will make Cal a winner

The commenters are going to have to be smarter than me here: What does Mike Montgomery bring to the table?

Which Conference Proved The Most in Bowl Season?

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Extending with our deep and important discussion from regular season into bowl season, which conference had the toughest slate of opponents? Which conference had it easy goings?

Well let’s look at the bowl performance. We can get a good examination by taking a look at this chart, with each row featuring a game, starting with the most important one and going down from there (I’m sure there are some contentions you can make at the end about which game should go over which, but let’s not be too technical). Winners highlighted in bold.

bowlresults

So let’s analyze each conference as we did in the regular season post. Opponents of each conference are listed in order by the table (in the case of the ACC, #1 team in the ACC facing Kansas, followed by #2 team facing Michigan St, etc.), followed by a W or L for win-loss.

ACC (2-6)
#8 Kansas L
Michigan St. W
#22 Auburn L
Texas Tech L
Oregon St. L
Kentucky L
UConn W
Fresno St. L

Now it’s the ACC’s turn to bite dust. The Big 10 was plagued with a terrible OOC schedule and no marquee wins; the ACC replicated that conference’s performance come the holidays.

Most impressive win: Wake Forest knocking off 9-4 UConn. What sport is this again?

Most embarrassing loss: Virginia Tech really never matched up well with Kansas, and the Jayhawks controlled the majority of the game. Even though it was only a three point win, the Kansas defense took the reins and didn’t let go.

[youtube 1Y1JsQiaXhI]

Leftovers: Florida State was playing without half of its players and still kept it close with Kentucky…Virginia blew the Texas Tech game (up 14 with THREE minutes left), but almost every team in the Big 12 blows a Texas Tech game, so we’ll give them a pass…Clemson lost to Auburn in the ho-hum Bowl, etc. etc.

Toughness: 5th, making it all the more mystifying how badly the ACC performed. What the hell happened? You could argue that they were in each of these games until the end, but one would still think that they’d pull more wins out of these opponents than just two.

Grade: D- (and there’s some serious grade inflation going on here).

Big 10 (3-5)
#2 LSU L
#6 USC L
#9 Florida W
#14 BC L
#16 Tennessee L
Texas A&M W
Oklahoma St. L
Central Michigan W

Most impressive win: Total emasculation for the conference was avoided by Florida’s unexpected meltdown against an energetic Wolverine attack. It was clear Rich Rodriguez had already made his presence felt as Michigan went to the spread, lived by the spread, KILLED by the spread. Welcome to speed, Big Ten.

[youtube xFIAoIPSKek]

Most embarrassing loss: The Illinois game was over in a matter of six minutes. When the hell are the SEC and the Pac-10 going to play in the Rose Bowl again?

Other game notes: Michigan State barely finished over .500 and took a highly ranked BC team the distance. Wisconsin-Tennessee came down to the final drive. The other victory against a big conference came against a team without a coach, which is about as impressive as it sounds. I heard the Purdue-Central Michigan game was entertaining, if you really really hate defense.

Toughness: To be fair to the Big 10, they drew a very tough slate of opponents, in my estimation the toughest in the country–three ranked SEC opponents, the Pac-10 champ and the ACC runnerup. They weren’t facing cupcakes here like they were in the regular season. Nevertheless, while the second-tier bowl games were at least competitive, it was clear the top of the Big 10 could not keep up with the best of the Pac-10 and the SEC for the second straight year.

Grade: C

Top 4 after the jump.

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The New Design

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

And at last, the new design has been revealed. So far, no kinks (included in with an upgrade to WordPress 2.5, it looks like everything has gone smoothly). Hopefully this will last for as long as necessary–web designs are a long, drawn-out process, and I’m glad to have the majority of the big issues for

First I must thank LawVol from Gate21.net for his diligent work in upgrading this site. We Q&Aed back and forth for several weeks about what to do with installing the header, and didn’t hit on the final design until a week or so ago. He spent the last week tinkering around with it. I owe him a great deal for this, so for now I owe him my thanks (in the future I’ll think of something better).

Three big differences:
1) 3 columns instead of 2. There was way too much clutter on my old site, so now we can split up the widgets to where they belong.

2) We actually have an image on the header! At least the new visitor will have an idea what the hell this blog might be about. The last theme had no real marker that immediately let the audience know this was a site focused on Cal sports. Hopefully that should be cleared up.

3) Everything looks like it wasn’t cobbled together in seven minutes. Thank God for a somewhat professional-looking site.

Also the Google search engine in the sidebar has been replaced by a Lijit search engine, which is pretty cool–you can search through my Cal-related del.icio.us and youtube links along with all the content in my site, as well as choose to search on the regular web as well. It definitely looks more streamlined than the old Google search engine.

I’m sure there will be criticism of sorts, so feel free to leave your thoughts on the new design in the comments. What could be changed about the functionality of the site, what could be improved, what you miss from the old design, etc. I’ll certainly think about it for the next offseason, but hopefully this theme will last for a bit.

“A Turn For The Awesome” (Ben Braun Memories)

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Because I only caught the tail end of Cal basketball under Braun (the NBA consumes too much of my life to follow college in earnest), I can really add nothing to personal memories of Ben Braun. I just watched what I saw on TV, and it was kind of like watching paint dry, then repainting over it wand watching that paint dry.

So here are some memories from people who know him better, who love him, enjoyed him, or well…you know.

Rod Benson

“I still remember when we were in Trieste, Italy. Our team got into a fight with the Italian team were playing against. Later that night, everybody had their stories about what they did during the fight. There were only two stories that never added up once we saw the tape. The first was Leon Powe’s story about “two of the biggest guys holding him back.” Leon was the largest guy there by far, so we were all wondering who in the world could hold HIM back. When we saw the video, we saw that Leon was clearly free to hit whoever he wanted and just stood there. That was probably a smart move even though we did laugh at him for it. The second story with a hole in it was that coach Braun was breaking the fight up. The tape showed him by himself in the corner, doing what appeared to be the cha-cha slide. He kept sidestepping around by himself with his hands up.”

Oski Talk

This is not like the Holmoe thing, where it was a done deal, where even he knew he had to quit. This could have gone either way, and he knew it was happening on Monday Night. You could just tell looking at him and at the team. I wonder if the team knew then, or if they just could sense it. Either way, they played like crap. But I think that was the wake. The murder happened when only 1900 folks showed up to see the Bears play in the NIT opener.

Golden Blogs

Ray Ratto seems to think the odds of Cal landing such a person are not good, calling Cal “a school with a largely mid-major profile.” OK, leaving aside the major media market and the new facilities and the local recruiting talent and the major conference exposure and the sterling academic reputation, he’s got a point (don’t tell Kevin over at TheBand that). Still, Ratto could’ve written (and probably did) the same article following Tom Holmoe’s resignation in 2001. I think that coaching search turned out OK.

The Bear Insider

Boykin noted that Braun took things in stride as he met with the players midday. “He pretty much just said that he wishes us the best of luck in the future, that he’s proud of what we accomplished and that he wants us to stick together and work hard in the off-season and take care of ourselves,” said Boykin.

“He was calm. He’s always handled things like this well. He’s been dealing with it all year. It was just hard to see him go through that because I think it was kind of unexpected, especially this early. It was really unexpected by a lot of people.”

“I know a lot of guys were really appreciative of things that Coach Braun brought to the team,” said Robertson. “He gave us an opportunity to play at this level and gave us a place to play and receive a top-flight education. But as for the overall feel of the day, I think a lot of guys right now are a little unsettled about what happened. It was such a quick turnaround with us just getting back. But as Jamal was saying, it’s a business and not just basketball –the game we love and play. I think from that standpoint, everyone understands the decision.”

The Band is Out On The Field

The best part about being a writer for the Daily Cal wasn’t the tickets, the thrill of following the best Cal football season ever, or having a prime voice among a massive student body.

It was the food.

Free food. Salmon, sandwiches and big cookies at football press conferences. Boxed lunches at games. The occasional random free pizzas from the athletic department. When you are a college student working for $15 per story, free food is good.

Ben Braun took advantage of this – and I love him for it. Before the 2004-2005 season, Braun had me and another writer into his office. We ate sandwiches and talked about basketball and about his girlfriend and about our majors. We did this again a couple times later in the season. People were jealous – the paper thought we were giving up our integrity. I didn’t care. Instead, I taunted other writers with the fact that I had Braun’s cell phone number (I still have it too).

Braun always sincerely answered my questions, always took time for whatever I wanted to talk about, and always made sure players talked. Sure, he probably did this with some self-interest (Haas was just losing its homecourt advantage and we had direct access to students), but he always made me feel honest about what I was writing.

Finally, The Play in CA is utterly joyous, and I think you should just read the whole post. When I lose our brackets despite their worst efforts at bracketology, you’ll get to enjoy posts like these for a week.

Site Upgrades Expected Today

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Technical difficulties expected this afternoon, so just hang in there while you keep on clicking that Allison Stokke post through the roof.

Turf Wars: How Much Does the Surface Affect Cal?

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, March 28th, 2008

natefurd

I conclude this week by talking about grass. No, I’m not talking about the bums on Telegraph, although that would make for great interviewing. Is there something in the grass fields of college football stadiums that slows our players down and eventually knocks our team out?

I bring this up because Cal football is a mysterious and painful 0-6 on grass the past two years during the regular season. I repeat: WE HAVEN’T WON A SINGLE GAME ON GRASS THE PAST TWO REGULAR SEASONS. Arizona, Tennessee, USC, UCLA, ASU, Stanford. Three of these teams were good, one was so-so, the other two flat-out stunk. We’ve managed to win our last two bowl games on grass, but it was not typical Cal football in those two games–we utilized a great power run game to throttle A&M and needed a miraculous comeback speared by Kevin Riley to take down Air Force. Neither of those games was decided until the 4th quarter (and yes, Cal won the Holiday Bowl by 35). So it’s safe to say we’ve been struggling on turf.

At least we’re partly able to explain two stats that must continually bite at Coach Tedford:
Rose Bowl: 0-3
LA Memorial Coliseum: 0-3

Perhaps this LA curse now has a partial explanation. Both the Rose Bowl and Coliseum are grass surfaces.

The 2006 season looks a little disconcerting in retrospect. Cal on turf? 9-0. Cal on grass? 0-3. The terrible Oregon State loss was compounded more by the fact that we had to go to the Rose Bowl and Sun Devil Stadium and lose two more–both grass fields. The Bears this season on the natural stuff were 0-3, stagnating on offense late in each of the three games. Since Tedford arrived at Cal, in the Pac-10, here are his records on turf and grass.

2002: 6-4 on turf, 0-2 on grass
2003: 5-5 on turf, 3-1 on grass
2004: 8-0 on turf, 2-2 on grass
2005: 6-3 on turf, 2-1 on grass
2006: 9-0 on turf, 1-3 on grass
2007: 6-3 on turf, 1-3 on grass

Note that in 2003 and 2005 (offensively sluggish, defensively solid years for the Bears) were the only years Cal football teams finished with winning records.

After the jump, a possible explanation of the disparity between the two surfaces.

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BREAKING: Ben Braun Out

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

benbraun

In sad developments in Cal sports, Ben Braun could not capture his second coveted “national championship”. So close to being 66th. So damn close!

Unfortunately, that was the cutoff-line for Sandy Barbour.

Cal fired men’s basketball coach Ben Braun Wednesday after 12 seasons, citing lack of NCAA tournament appearances over the last five years.

Braun had a 219-154 record and guided the team to five NCAA tournament berths and three National Invitation Tournaments. In 1996-97, Cal reached the Sweet 16 and Braun earned Pac-10 coach of the year honors. He guided the 1998-99 team to the NIT championship.

The Bears finished ninth in the Pac-10 this season going 6-12, 17-16 overall. A year ago, Cal finished 16-17, 6-12 for eighth place in the conference. Two seasons ago, the Bears finished 13-16, 6-12 in the Pac-10 — also for eighth place. Cal last made the NCAA tournament in 2003.

I feel a little bad–well, actually, I feel nothing–but I have to be happy to see Cal basketball given the chance to restore itself past semi-competence. Too much has been said about Braun that I can’t really add much. Let’s boil it down.

Underdeveloped big men, nondeveloped point guards, overdeveloped defense, subdeveloped ball movement, superdeveloped character. Character wins heart wins love wins Berkeley. Loses Pac-10 college basketball games by six to ten points.

Not bad. Some of those weren’t even words.

So Bears Necessity will be tracking all developments (and by tracking I mean reading the Golden Blogs and the Bear Insider religiously and waiting for them to report on the story). I will assemble a dossier ASAP of the most promising candidates. And then I will wait for the AD to hire Steve Lavin so I can go back to not caring about Cal basketball.

But there is promise again for the other big Cal sport. Thank God.

Tha1 Plays Decoy (Robert Jordan TD versus TN)

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

This weekend I went about twelve rounds with Hydrotech from the California Golden Blogs over my playcalling posts (Part I & Part II of his ripostes are here). We both had errors in our logic (I think I said USC was in a 5-2 when it was clearly a 4-2 on the Forsett TD, he said that playcalls can be considered good regardless of the result, which is a logical fallacy of some sort) and met halfway, but I think we still left disagreeing with one another about something important. Oh well, that just means more posts about it until I go utterly crazy.

To shift gears on the game film (and avoid another crazy debate for at least a week), we’ll try a more lighthearted review of tape. I was pretty serious about my USC posts, but here is something lighter from a lighter time, our glorious Tennessee victory and good ol’ reliable Robert Jordan.

robertjordanTN

Very fun call by Tedford on 3rd and goal against Tennessee with five wide receiver spread, game tied at 21–in this case, two tight ends (Morrah and Stevens lined out, Forsett far out, the two wide receivers Jackson and Jordan lined inside). Instead of aiming for the end zone though, Cal will choose the indirect route and go for some vertical misdirection.

However, there will be one pressing question after this one: What the hell was the defender thinking? Although you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ll see what I mean in a minute.

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