Sleep Sounds Great

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, February 22nd, 2008

If people seem discontented by Tedford’s stand on Riley v. Longshore, they should be more pleased to hear what he’s learned from this year.

Tedford, who is notorious for setting up residence in his office during the season, worked even longer hours than usual in an attempt to solve his team’s riddle. And when he wasn’t working, he’d lay on his air mattress in his office trying fruitlessly to fall asleep. Some nights, sleep never came.

“I didn’t sleep very much,” Tedford said. “You go to bed at 1:30 and have so many things on your mind and just toss and turn. I think there’s a point of maybe just overexhaustion, where you’re spinning your wheels. I felt like that a couple of times this year.”

That led to one of Tedford’s revelations after the season — that not every problem is solved by simply putting in more hours; that at some point the long hours can become counterproductive. So one of Tedford’s new doctrines is to make sure he and his coaching staff get a little more sleep, with the hopes it will result in renewed energy and focus.

“Sometimes maybe there is such a thing as being overworked. I never really felt that way in the past,” Tedford said. “This year, I felt that way as far as having some nights I didn’t sleep at all. I think I need to do a better job as a head coach to make sure we manage our hours so that we can have the energy and the enthusiasm all the time to do what we need to do. I think at a certain point it’s really easy to let yourself get overworked in this deal.”

Let’s face it–America is the land of workaholics. Tedford’s background (to work hard to survive and provide for his family) certainly made it easier for him to fall into the classic trap of overworking and burning out before the season ended. Hence, I’m glad to hear he’s learning the difference between working hard and working smart. Being a tired

Not many people have learned it in the past–consider all the poor working stiffs who toil every day in hopes of retirement. (Thank God I read the 4-Hour Work Week and adjusted my paradigms as well). It’s good to know Tedford is a flexible coach and will hopefully remain so in the long-term.

Additionally, it’s nice to hear he’s channeling the art of delegation (another lesson preached by the 4-Hour Work Week).

Tedford said he didn’t really seek advice during the team’s slide (“I had plenty of people trying to give me some,” he said), that most of the reflection took place after the season. That soul-searching revealed another discovery — that his role as play caller was preventing him from being the best head coach he could be.

As human beings we tend to stretch ourselves too thin (I know I have and do). But when we get into a position where other people are available to lend a helping hand, we should seize on that opportunity and let others do what they’re good at before we bog ourselves down in more tasks than we’re capable of handling. This epidemic runs true especially in professional football, where coaches take too much control of personnel decisions and management (in the NFL, think Holmgren, think Parcells, think Belichick–who has burned out near the end of seasons; none could win Super Bowls the longer they held management and playcalling roles).

College coaches have different priorities. They have larger rosters, so player development is an underrated aspect of the game. Anyone notice how stagnant the players were–especially on defense–near the end of the year? Tedford just had too many tasks on his plate this year. Focusing on calling plays with that huge billboard, overcoming the hippies and pushing for the athletic center project, player development, recruiting, and reorienting himself to the losing streaks all at once took its toll.

So I think these adjustments are promising. Tedford can get back to what he’s been great at–player development, and hand the reins to a fairly good OC. I just hope Coach is sleeping as I write this–it’s late as I finish writing this up.

Any additional thoughts on Tedford’s workaholic nature and his adjustments? Other suggestions that might help our Coach get in proper mental shape?

Viva La Cascara de Rosa!

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, February 21st, 2008


(AP) HAVANA, CUBA–Now that Fidel Castro has finally relinquished power, he has also decided to reliniquish his hex on the Cal football program and their half-a-century shutout from the Rose Bowl. He officially removed the pins from a voodoo doll of Pappy Waldorf late last night.

The California Golden Bears have not been to a Rose bowl since January 1st, 1959. Fidel Castro entered Havana on the same day and took over power later that year. The Bears have not been back since, and only now has Castro began to reveal his power grudge against the powers that be in the UC flagship school.

Castro spoke through a translator privately to an unnamed representative of Jeff Tedford that the good times would soon be rolling in Strawberry Canyon.

“I was not a great fan of the institution of UC Berkeley, which has sold itself to the government in its production of nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer was the father of the Manhattan project that leaves my country helpless from attack. For all the liberal activism and socialist propaganda, they have reneged on the promises of communism by failing to embrace the city of Berkeley and instead touting their technocrats and their governmental enterprises. So it was easy to hate them.”

He smiled and glanced conspiratorially at the representative. “I clearly could not attack them directly, so I instead hit them in the part of themselves they cared most about. Football. Not family, not friends–no, football is what Americans care about the most. And I knew the longer they hurt, the longer I could keep the ideas of communism flowing in that city.”

“Plus their rival across the bay was adorned in red. It gave me a warm feeling inside.”

“I knew it all along.” Confidently stated conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone. “I was about to make another movie about the man, which also involved the real killers of JFK and the government officials behind 9/11. The connection between JFK and Cal football is pretty obvious if you connect the dots. I love him so much. My hero. My man.”

So with Castro removing himself from power, what made him decide to end his hex of the program?

“The city has let me down, especially in recent times. San Francisco even named a street after me in my honor! You’d expect the revolutionaries in Berkeley to proceed likewise. Plus I hear there are people living in trees in support of their so-called revolution. This doesn’t sound like a smart way to win anything. You need violence and action! I can’t support people who shit in a bucket. And people hit each other in football. That’s violent enough for me.”

“Plus I like watching this Riley kid. He has a nice arm. He reminds me of myself during my early revolutionary days, but I can see his Battle of Yaguajay coming.”

(Thanks to DrunkOski for the title and CalAaron (well, CalAaron’s girlfriend’s dad) from the Bear Insider for the idea.)

Combine/NFL Draft Links for Cal Prospects

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I know some of you are chomping at the bit for Cal NFL prospects–this is a very talented class we’re letting go of. We can look at the rankings from the two sites who spend the most time compiling this decorum of data, Rivals and Scout (just for fun, we’ll add in Frank Cooney too). Here are the tables of rankings:


I’ll be honest–I’d care more about the scouting process if I didn’t have to PAY for all the goddamned rankings and clips. ESPN Insider, Scouts player tapes, Rivals message boards–all closed and gated systems that I can only access by paid subscription. This works great for a newspaper. It NEVER works online. Thankfully, Cooney knows what he’s doing and provides the minimal amount of info I need.

–Jackson remains highly touted and ranked by ESPN (he was on the front page for most of Tuesday). Todd McShay’s mancrush is almost embarrassing; he’s written about Tha1 here (whoops, Insider!) and here (not Insider!). If anything, this shows how much DeSean has to prove to NFL scouts. In terms of draft contracts and signing bonuses, the difference in draft selection could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, this can be offset by onfield performance, but the future is always uncertain for NFL prospects.

Both Rivals and NFLDraftScout also have him placed near the top. If anything, it shows you how a small sample of Jackson’s work–his moves are always breathtaking–can completely counteract his physical shortcomings (his smaller frame and size, prone to rough contact, etc.). Scout is a little less generous with Jackson, but the Hawk is right behind his battery mate there.

–Speaking of the Hawk, he had a chat on ESPN yesterday. He’ll apparently miss his teammates, thought the Tennessee win was the most special during his time here, thinks he’s quicker (not faster, quicker) than Jahvid Best, and he’ll miss the blue and gold unis. Methinks he wasn’t a fan of the sunbeam jerseys.

–I usually agree with general draft analysis of our players, but huh?

Forsett is a patient runner. He waits for opportunities to come to him, and that’s just what today’s running back needs to have. If patience is a virtue, Forsett is a sure winner in that one. He can be practically invisible because one minute he can be behind blockers and the next second he is in the end zone pulling his best Ocho Cinco impression.

Um, Ocho Cinco impression?

Chad Johnson’s celebrations: “river dance”, proposing to a cheerleader, a plea to the NFL not to fine him (and they did), Irish jig, chicken dance, jumping into the Dawg Pound, taking a camerman’s camera and pretending to film players, etc.
Forsett’s celebrations: Kneel to the ground in prayer, kneel to the ground in prayer, kneel to the ground…I don’t think he’s about to be strutting and posing anytime soon.

Here are some favorable reports on Forsett and Hawkins from the Senior Bowl a few weeks back.

Justin Forsett, RB, California: Forsett started the week on fire and just got hotter every practice. His speed, quickness and ability to create yardage was eye catching. Forsett does not possess the size to be a feature runner at the next level, but he displayed enough versatility as a ball carrier and pass catcher to secure a spot in the third round.

Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California: Hawkins was the best receiver in Mobile, bar none. He showcased natural skills and athletic ability all week, consistently making the easy reception as well as the acrobatic deep catch. Hawkins is being compared to former USC receiver Steve Smith, and like the Giants rookie, he looks like a solid choice in round two.

Hopefully this also ends with the Hawk catching crucial passes in 4th quarter drives in the Super Bowl.

Robert Jordan might have actually had an easier route to the NFL if he had declared last year, but now he might even have trouble getting picked up in the later rounds. Jordan acquitted himself admirably in Jackson’s absence and was a pretty good third option, but he is not high enough on anyone’s radar (and it’s hard playing third fiddle to Jackson and Hawk).

Thomas DeCoud, as expected, looks to be in good shape. It’s a weak year at safeties and he’s one of the hardest hitters available. Look for a top tier NFL team to go after him in the third/fourth rounds. Craig Stevens might have a puncher’s chance, although his rank at tight end is fairly low. Mike Gibson is only liked by Cooney at the moment–I don’t see him on Scout or Rivals.

Any thoughts on Cal players or the NFL draft? And who do you think is most likely to succeed in the NFL? Vote in the sidebar and comment away.

Beginning of the End?

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

reportertreesWhile the slow, slowwww judicial process of stadium renovation continues, at least the disgusting sideshow seems to be dying down. Unfortunately, the pain itself is not completely over.

In what they said was an effort to clean up, police officials began removing some of the tree-sitters’ belongings from the Oak Grove at Memorial Stadium this morning.

At 6 a.m., a tree climber began removing equipment left in the trees by protesters.

About 30 tree-sit supporters had congregated in the area as of 8 a.m.

Despite rumors, a police official said there are no plan to remove the protesters today, only their excess belongings.

So basically the treesitters are down to ropes and platforms. We can rename it the treehouse protest, methinks. Certainly would sound a lot less formal and gratuitous, and the Berkeley police could just say it was just kids up there playing tricks on them.

Naturally, I expect this farce to go on as long as the lawyers of the Berkeley City Council twiddle their thumbs in court. Until the UC knows for certain they have precedence to start the renovation process, Cal fans will have to deal with the shameful remnants of this city’s ignominious past.

There is an excessive amount of bureaucratic waste in this city that smells just as bad as the feces those cops had to dig out of the area. And they’re probably going to have to do it again in three months when the judge will likely delay judgment.

Any thoughts on when and how the treesitters might be forced to leave?

Nate vs. Riley, Part I

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, February 18th, 2008

People have heard Coach Tedford speak about many important issues this offseason. Certainly for most Cal fans, the most important aspect of the future is the QB debate.

On the down side the general impression in the room was that he is sticking with Longshore, saying that he was unfairly criticized, and that other than the rollout plays, Longshore could have done everything Riley did in the Air Force game. He felt fans need to stand behind Nate and help build his confidence back up. He did, however, confirm that the QB spot will be open in the Spring.

Not terribly surprised. Longshore is a senior, and I’d assume Nate would get the nod despite Riley’s incredible bowl performance. The same thing occurred with Reggie Robertson in early 2003 when Aaron Rodgers was still struggling to establish himself, although it can be argued Riley is WAY ahead of where Rodgers was at this point in his career. That being said, the contest is open, so we’ll see in the spring if Tedford finds his young gun worthy of assuming the mantle, or perhaps even consider the platoon model.
Personally, I think that if he has the right attitude, Riley will learn to work even harder and develop his game more thoroughly to assume the mantle no later than 2009. There is also the wild card of Brock Mansion, who is waiting in the wings for his turn. No doubt there would be great anxiety in Bear Territory if Nate returned to the huddle in August, but I don’t think Tedford’s leash will be as long as it was this year. (Of course, the contention that college football fans should support their QB at all costs is silly–this isn’t the Olympics).

Of course, there’s always the bright side.

Tedford said that he feels the team chemistry is the best he has ever witnessed, that the young guys really want to step up, that we may see freshmen playing wide receiver this year and that Best’s hip seems to be progressing well. He also said that Schneider probably won’t be granted another year of eligibility, that Boateng will play in the Spring and that he really wants to concentrate more on being a head coach who deals with all the units rather than just the offense.

He also indicated that the Bears might utilize a 3-4 defense, that the delay in the Stadium project is bad and that it is beginning to erode credibility during recruiting. The poster felt that Tedford seems to be excited about the current team and coaching it.

Completely forgot about the stadium project hampering local recruiting. It seems that this might have exerted more influence on the decline in our current class more than any on-the-field performance. Good to hear about Jahvid and Boateng’s progress as well.

The interesting point is the switch to the 3-4, which has been long overdue. If Gregory is returning, that extra linebacker could be used for more effective shadowing or blitzing manuevers, as well as preventing that maddening ten yard, over-the-middle route that opponents of Cal thrived upon. And no one’s going to argue that our D-line is stronger than our linebacking corps.

EDIT: As usual, Hydrotech is far more on top of things than me. Looks like 3-4 won’t become a standard formation and he explains why it isn’t such a bad thing.

Thoughts on Tedford’s talk? Please respond in the comments.

Recruiting Maps for Cal, Tedford Era

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, February 17th, 2008

After drawing conclusions about the entire Pac-10 recruiting efforts (and one of my commenters has provided a similar 2008 Big Ten map, kudos to him), it’s time to take a historical perspective of Coach Tedford’s impact on the program (labels: blue dot-2002, yellow dot-2003, blue pin-2004, yellow pin-2005, blue no dot-2006, yellow no dot-2007, sky blue-2008). If everything isn’t showing up correctly, click here and navigate accordingly.

Bay Area map

You’ll see that other than the first year (2002, coming off the Holmoe era) and the last (now), Cal’s presence in the Bay was fairly dominant. Throughout the middle, Cal was able to land JCs from the local community colleges (including The Hawk and Desmond Bishop), and gain the inside track on highly touted recruits like Jahvid Best and Marshawn Lynch. This year didn’t land any big local names, but we came out okay.

Los Angeles map

Yeah, this year sucked here. Almost inevitable that UCLA, ASU and USC would dominate this landscape. But you can see that in the past, whenever Cal makes a huge jump (2002 & 2004 in particular, 2006 less so), the result is big reapings from La-La land (DeSean, Stevens, Mebane, Hughes all landed at Cal during those years). However, we have an inordinate amount of talent from 2006 raring to go next year from the LA area, including corner Chris Conte. So hopefully that’ll offset this year’s losses and turn the ship around in SoCal.

Here’s what I found.

The I-5 California corridor still provides a steady influx, although the Bears have only exerted minimal influence on Sacramento (the three big recruits from the area–Worrell Williams, Syd’Quan Thompson, and James Montgomery–will fill big roles next year). You can see the inordinate numbers from Fresno–Tedford’s roots in action. Unfortunately those Fresno roots have insofar only produced Zack Follett as bona fide. But Aaron Rodgers also originated from the corridor, so that makes up for everything else.

Cal had the biggest reach in 2007 when they came one win away from the Rose Bowl, nabbing recruits from New Jersey and Illinois. The reach is still substantial enough in 2008, leading us to believe Tedford’s national status remains fairly credible.

Despite the lesser amount of coveted four/five star recruits, Cal continues to find new places to expand. Phoenix, Houston and Kansas City provided the inroads for the new Golden Bear athletes of ’08. And the steady foothold Tedford is establishing in Texas (first Forsett, then Mansion, now Hill and Payne) could be a good sign for the long-term.

All in all, there’s a relative consistency between performance in the regular season and the subsequent star level of the coming offseason recruits; when the team sinks, so does the supposed guaranteed talent (like Joe Ayoob–yes, a five star). Most importantly, Cal would need to suffer several bad campaigns for the Bears to fall off the map in the Pac-10; the recruiting classes have been that deep the last several years, and you’d expect at least a return to form in 2008 (nothing terribly wrong with an eight-nine win season), if correlation between recruiting class and onfield performance holds up.

There are a few big high schools I’ve noticed that churned out great talent for the Bears–Crenshaw HS in LA provided Daymeion Hughes and Brendan Mebane, Hayward HS Robert Jordan and Phillip Mbakogu (a powerful force in 2005 before a knee injury derailed his career), Bernard Hicks and Robert Peele from Edison High as well. But it’s the continuing domination of the JCs (which provided Rulon Davis, Nuu Tafisi, Andrew Larson, Mickey Pimentel, Mike Gibson along with Bishop and Hawkins) that has provided the bulwark of talent Cal has needed. As long as Tedford can recruit well among the JCs, there should be relative stability in Strawberry Canyon.

As usual, I encourage blogs of other teams to try documenting the growth of their recruiting development. It’s a lot of fun, and not terribly difficult (only takes a few hours and can be finished in a week or so). You’ll probably learn a little bit about how recruiting on the macro scale certainly adds up.

Any differing or new thoughts on the state of Cal recruiting (plus spot the errors)? Provide your insight in the comments.

Retrospection Evaluation–Stanford

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, February 15th, 2008

Stanford USC Football

They beat USC. They didn’t accomplish anything else. They lost to Notre Dame. The only other three wins came against Arizona, San Jose State and…

You know what, we’re done here. I can’t rationally discuss this team without making me angry. YOU HEAR ME?

(And now that we’re done with the unsuccessful teams, we’ll move onto teams that made it to bowl games. We’ll go a little bit more indepth into winning strategies of these teams. Game theory, starting next week!)

Pac-10 Recruiting Maps, Part II

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Read Part I (Northwest/Northern California) here.

Going again through the super awesome MapGameday, we see how important it is for the Pac-10 to defend their home turf from intruders. Cal did a so-so job, Washington a superb job. How would the southern schools fare?


Bob Stoops gets another year, and Arizona gets another subpar recruiting class in-state. Dennis Erickson and Arizona State pretty much beat up in the local markets, and you can expect them to be USC’s biggest challenge next year with a strong class returning and the rest of the Pac-10 floundering. But this is Sun Devil country.

The out-of-state state schools (Wazzu and OSU) took their lone recruits in the outskirts. I think we’re noticing a trend with these schools.

If we look even closer…


Bob Stoops went toe-to-toe with Dennis Erickson in every major region (including the hotbed of recruiting in Chandler. He did nothing but manage a split, although I believe the more highly touted high schools ended up in Arizona State (and who wouldn’t? Tucson is El Dumpville). But ASU is a junior college, right Bobby boy? All the more reason I remain mystified you’ll be coaching next year.

Oregon, the Pac-10’s Visigoths, again continued its southern raids. Cal, UW and UCLA made some inroads but not many.





You’re going to hear a lot of this nauseating talk about who wins the recruiting battle of LA now that Rick Neuheisel’s in town, but from taking a look at the maps you can see some very interesting data. ASU made huge inroads into SoCal with his impressive 2nd place Pac-10 finish, and in some areas split or did better than USC and UCLA, especially in the Eastern regions. Mike Stoops also seemed to recruit very well here.

The West side of LA is a hodgepodge–lots of Bruin blue, and some Trojan red, and plenty of others. Neither team seemed to win outright in the area, but considering how clustered the region appears, the Bruins seemed to retain the upper hand locally. USC comes in a contested 2nd, with Arizona State and Arizona 3rd and 4th.

You can also see that the Northwestern state schools and Stanford tended to be clustered around the suburbs and outskirts of the city. Cal didn’t have much success in LA, finishing near the bottom of the Pac-10 overall in this region.

The rest of the country

Didn’t color in a map for this one, but there were some interesting notes. Because of its inability to fawn local talent, guess who had the longest reach? It wasn’t just USC who managed to claw their way West. Due to diminishing marginal returns in their home area, the Cardinal had to look elsewhere. Stanford picked six recruits from the East (Michigan, Cincinnati, DC, Georgia, and even two from Florida), plucked a few from Texas, and went along its way.

USC did not do much out of state this year (only four recruits east of the Rockies signed with the Trojans in 08), possibly caused by fallout from the Stanford debacle and the rise to prominence of several rivals in their conference. Oregon interestingly is gaining prominence in SEC country and the Big 12, taking seven from that area–oh, what being sponsored by the CEO of Nike will do for you!

Arizona does atone for its weakness in its own state by pillaging Texas (has Mike Stoops really done anything but live off the successes of his big bro?). The state schools (ASU, Wazzu, OSU) barely made a dent outside of their region, although Jack Elway is heading to the House of Heat. UCLA and Washington only had one recruit outside the West Coast, but their regional success seemed to be more than enough. As for Cal? Two from Texas, one from Missouri, one from Hawaii.


The current big Pac-10 powerhouses (USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Cal) dominated the cities, while state schools like Oregon State and Washington State foraged the small towns to find what they needed (Wazzu with a higher degree of success). Arizona State scoured the Southwest, especially in Arizona, Vegas and the outskirts of LA. Stanford apparently cares about GPA, so they actually recruited nationwide for academics who would succeed outside of sports–dorks.

In terms of owning their territory, I’d say Washington did the best, ASU holds a substantial edge over Arizona in Phoenix, USC and UCLA expectedly split LA with the Arizona schools not far behind, Cal did OK in the Bay Area, and Stanford got smacked around. Oregon and the Northwest state schools played Carthage and scoured the backwaters of America for recruits. I’m not exactly sure how much Cal actually recruits Bay-Area wise–I’ll try to do some research over the Tedford era concerning how well this team did.

Some trends I encourage fellow sports bloggers to examine for their respective conferences (hopefully with prettier maps):

Readers, please point out what I’m probably missing. Any additional insight or maps you’d like to see?

Pac-10 Recruiting Maps, Part I

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

While I’m not so hot on breaking down recruiting by stars, recruiting by location always intrigues me. It gives you an idea of a program’s reach, how well the team is recruiting in the local area, how many incursions a team is making on certain programs. And more importantly, you can dirty up Google Maps. I’m going to focus solely on the Pac-10 to avoid the upcoming maps devolving into an incomprehensible wasteland.

The excellent has some interesting breakdowns by location of where high school recruits originate. It only has data for the last two years, so for now I’ll just break down the progress Pac-10 schools have made from year to year. Given how much I love maps, I consider this a treat.

Let’s start up North and move down. Apologies for the unprofessional look of the maps, I’m no graphic designer. Gritty designer is more like it.

The Northwest


Ty Willingham knows this is the eleventh hour, and he went for broke. Nearly all the Seattle recruits ended up at UW, meaning there will be a fine specimen of talent for Willingham’s successor to choose from, since Ty will be fired long before he can utilize this class. Shameful, but reality bites. However, Ty did his best to keep Seattle, and for the most part it remained impervious to anyone else. Not even Dennis Erickson did as good a job holding Phoenix–over 80% of Pac-10 recruits in the Seattle area committed to Husky Nation.

Washington dominated Seattle, so Wazzu had to go to the outlying counties. You’ll see this trend throughout Wazzu’s recruiting, bypassing major cities and concentrated its recruiting efforts on the more sparsely populated/less desirable areas of Washington/Oregon/California/Arizona.

The Oregon schools, by contrast, got practically nothing from the Northwest. Their class was diffused throughout the nation, so neither side really made any inroads in the area. The Beavers did surprisingly little to capitalize off of a solid 8-4 season in general. Oregon would look elsewhere for powering its Nike-facility pleasure palaces.

Northern California.


Anarchy reigns. What a mess. Good luck trying to figure out the Bay Area on that map (don’t worry, we’ll get to it in a bit). You can see that Cal moved back inland again to find recruits, because attracting talent by proximity sure didn’t work. Tedford is a Fresno man, and the Central Valley is still his to pick from–Chico, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, Merced landed him six recruits. Everyone else kind of split the difference, although you’ll notice plenty of Oregon raids from the north and USC taking from the south.

One thing this notes is that no matter how hard Cal drops (and I’ll assume it won’t get much worse than this year), there will still be enough players willing to stick with Tedford over Harbaugh. Stanford had zero recruits in Northern California. None.

The Bay Area


Cal’s collapse provided opportunity for the northern schools to raid into the Bay as the Visigoths had once sacked Rome. UW, Oregon, Wazzu all landed good recruits from the area, and even USC and Arizona. The Ducks came out the big winner in this area, tying Cal for four recruits each.

Of course, Bay Area recruiting is always a little lax–football is not a heavy coastal sport and more confined to the inlands (where high school football is a big deal). But this is Cal’s smallest haul in the Bay Area in quite some time, signifying that a program’s performance does indeed influence who gets in where. Add in Stanford’s inability to make inroads in its own backyard and the diaspora to the other Pac-10 schools and Cal fans have to hope that this year remains an aberration. Otherwise, expect a descent into average talent as schools from North and South pillage the Bay.

(Then again, Justin Forsett was a two-star…)

Next: Yo home to Bel-Air! (SoCal and Arizona)

Any thoughts, corrections on the recruiting maps? Please comment.

Saying Goodbye–The Hawk

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, February 8th, 2008

After a dreadful game against Arizona last year, I was a little weary of Lavelle taking the big snaps. That was dumb of me. Hawkins has made great strides since then, his work ethic carrying him to a higher plateau I’d never thought he’d reach. If he can keep at it (and it appears he has in his post-Cal career), he is going to shine in the NFL.

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Strengths: Great adjustment player. If the quarterback underthrew a ball, he repositioned himself to find the ball (like with Henne on the Senior Bowl TD); if he overthrew it, he found a way to catch it (like on Longshore’s errant throw/Hawk’s brilliant adjustment in the USC game). He has pretty great leaping ability on the fade route. He runs great routes. Versatile seems like the proper word to describe his play.

Weaknesses: Sadly, the Hawk doesn’t sound like it’ll catch on in NFL stadiums. But if he manages to do it, good for him. He does still try to chest-catch rather than use his hands though (resulting in some dropped balls), so that might require some tinkering. Plus he’s not as quick as Jackson or Jordan. These seem like minor deficiencies though.

Signature moment: That catch in the USC game was phenomenal (skip to 5:17 to avoid the pain before that).

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Pro outlook: Pretty good I’d say–Hawkins has been fairly consistent with either quarterback throwing to him. He’s played second fiddle to DeSean when necessary (Oregon and UCLA in particular), but he’s also shined on his own when Jackson drew double teams and heavy coverage. He has a great chance to shine as a starting receiver–not necessarily the star, but definitely a powerful second option.