Posted on: February 16, 2011 2:06 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Few elements in the world of modern-day college football are as controversial as the Internet's now-ubiquitous recruiting services and recruiting rankings. Some fans consider them an excellent gauge of a team's future talent; some consider their evaluations worthless. Some consider them a distracting blight that feeds the egos of young athletes and builds (or lowers) expectations for a program based on nothing more than wild guesses; some see them as a fun, engaging, necessary diversion that helps pass the offseason grind and makes fans more informed to boot.
But one of the biggest questions surrounding recruiting rankings (like those by our Maxpreps colleagues and Tom Lemming ) has been: do they matter to the people in college football who, you know, matter? Though it's only one very small response as part of a much larger Q&A, an answer given by Cal linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Kenwick Thompson at a recruiting-centric Bear fan gathering (as recorded by California Golden Blogs ) suggests that, yes, on some level they do.
According to Thompson , the recruiting process at Cal begins with the Bear coaches examining "data" from Rivals and Scout as well as a third (unnamed) recruiting service. It's that data which helps Thompson and the rest of the staff create a "dossier" of potential recruits which the Bears may or not pursue according to the team's needs.
Thompson's not the first coach to admit that he's aware of (or even using) the recruiting services. Larry Coker's Miami staff reportedly bypassed much of their own evaluative process in favor of simply using Rivals rankings. Auburn recruting coordinator Curtis Luper once said of the rankings that "if they're keeping the score, you want to win, right?" Penn State assistant Jay Paterno wrote himself only last week that some coaches have been so fixated on recruiting rankings that they've become willing to oversign to make sure they stay near the top of them.
This is not to say that Thompson's Bears or any staff are letting the recruiting services do their work for them. From the rest of Thompson's Q&A, it seems clear he and Jeff Tedford's staff are using the "data" collected there only as a starting point, with plenty of evaluative legwork still to do afterwards. But it also seems clear that the recruiting sites are very much on the minds of FBS coaches, and that yes, the information they provide --unless the Bears are the only ones, which seems highly unlikely -- is being put to some kind of use by programs at or near even the top of the college food chain.
Love them or hate them, what you can't say about the recruiting services is that they aren't having an impact on the landscape of college football.
HT: EDSBS .
Posted on: January 25, 2011 1:40 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Following a four-season stretch in which his Bears averaged 5.5 losses a year and finished no higher than fourth in the Pac-10, Jeff Tedford is entering what might be a true make-or-break year for his tenure in Berkeley. Given those stakes, you'd expect Tedford to either work hard to maintain some level of coaching continuity or break the bank in an effort to overhaul his staff with the very best coaches available.
Though things can still change, at this stage it looks like Tedford may do neither. Bears offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig became the fifth Cal assistant to leave this offseason Monday when he took the same position on Rocky Long's staff at San Diego State , ending his two-year stay with the Bears. If replacing more than half of his staff wasn't already enough of a shake-up for Cal, consider that the new offensive coordinator will be the team's fourth in five years after Jim Michalczik departed in 2007, Frank Cignetti lasted only one year in 2008, and Ludwig stayed for all of two seasons himself.
Then again, maybe it'll prove to be only three in five years since Michalczik is reportedly in line to return to the position he left three seasons ago. But according to the Mercury News, Tedford may be considering other options as well:
So, to recap, the three possibilities Tedford is weighing for the Bears' 2011 play-calling are:
1. An offensive line assistant who left Cal once already in 2007 and hasn't called plays for at least the last nine seasons
2. Himself, despite the fact that he hasn't called his own plays for three years and that the last time he did, his team finished 3-6 in the Pac-10 and a mediocre (by Bears standards) 50th in the country in scoring
3. The ex-Colorado assistant who helmed the nation's 104th- and 79th-ranked offenses the past two years.
Tedford's a smart coach who may be able to pull together something functional (or even better) despite what looks like a difficult situation on paper. But in being unwilling (or unable) to prevent Ludwig from taking what seems like a backwards step to the Aztecs, he's also made a huge roll of the dice in a season where he may not be able to afford coming up snake eyes.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 11:34 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 12:53 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
There was a whole lot of uproar and outrage coming from the Pacific Northwest following Oregon's win over Cal a few weeks ago, as there was plenty of evidence that Cal players were faking injuries on defense in an attempt to slow the Oregon offense down during the Ducks' 15-13 win on November 13. It was rather obvious in this video that a Cal defensive lineman wasn't really hurt when he went down, unless a sniper in the crowd shot him in the leg with a BB gun.
Well, head coach Jeff Tedford denied it at first, but now it seems that the head coach has changed his tune. Cal suspended defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi over the weekend for being the mastermind behind the evil plot.
"This is a young coach who made a mistake. We make mistakes in life a lot," said Cal AD Sandy Barbour in a statement. "He stood up and he accepted responsibility for it. The head coach accepted responsibility for it and I accepted responsibility for it. That's what we do as educators."
While Lupoi may have fallen on his sword, Tedford has no plans on firing him.
"I respect him a great deal," Tedford said. "In the heat of the battle and trying to get a substitution in, he used poor judgment. That's no reflection on his character whatsoever or his love for Cal and the program. ... He's a great football coach. A mistake was made. I'm sure we'll learn from it as a whole. We will make sure that we stand for the right things and move forward."
Yes, I'm sure Tedford and his coaching staff will learn from it in the future. Next year, they'll make sure that their players know to fake the injury before being sent out there, instead of waiting for a signal from a rogue coach on the sideline. Whom I'm sure was acting alone.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:57 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. The Ducks are who we thought they were. It's just not accurate to say we learned anything new about Oregon in their 48-29 Friday night win over Arizona . We knew already they were as dominant a second-half team as any in the country (save maybe their likely BCS title game foils at Auburn ), and that's how they played. We knew already with weapons like LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and even the ever-more-terrifying Josh Huff , the Ducks could put up nearly 50 points without even being particularly sharp in the first half, and that's what they did. We knew that playing in the comfort zone of Autzen Stadium, they were going to win and win comfortably when all was said and done, and in the end the Wildcats feel by nearly three touchdowns. (We also knew their defense could have the occasional
In short, we knew that Oregon was the 2010 Pac-10 champion and almost certainly on their way to the BCS championship game, and that's what we still know. If there was anything surprising about their dismantling of the Wildcats, it was the realization that by this point of the season, Oregon's championship-caliber excellence isn't even surprising any more.
2. And yeah, you can forget about them choking away that title berth in the Civil War. Mike Riley will almost certainly have his Oregon State team ready to play a competitive game against their archrivals at home in Corvallis, but it's hard to imagine that he has the horses to actually finish off the hypothetical shocker of the season, not when two of the Beavers' previous three results are a home loss to Washington State and today's hideous 38-0 whitewashing at the hands of Stanford . The Cardinal are legitimately playing as well as any team in the country right now, but still; fewer than 300 total yards an zero points doesn't exactly portend the kind of offensive explosion that will be necessary to stay with the Ducks.
3. USC is ready for its season to be over. The Oregon State result sandwiched between the aforementioned losses to Wazzu and Stanford? An inexplicable-looking 36-7 demolition of the Trojans that this space immediately chalked up to USC's longtime tendency to break into football hives upon crossing the Oregon border. But after watching USC's listless, often yawn-inducing performance in a 20-16 loss to a Notre Dame team that at times seemed determined to give the game away -- Irish quarterback Tommy Rees threw three interceptions, more than one of the highly charitable variety -- it may be time to wonder if Lane Kiffin is still able to get through to a team with nothing to play for other than pride.
Now, true, the Trojans still would have pulled out the victory if Ronald Johnson hadn't dropped a certain game-winning reception late, and the absence of Matt Barkley (coupled with a shaky-looking first start from Mitch Mustain , who averaged less than 5 yards an attempt and failed to throw a touchdown pass) no doubt didn't help USC's cause in the least, either. But for a team playing its oldest and arguably biggest rival, the spark needed to really get the Trojan blood pumping (and the crowd involved) seemed curiously absent. Maybe it was the rain. But maybe it's just Week 12 of a season whose self-described bowl game took place a month ago.
4. The end to one team's bowl streak is just the start of someone else's. Or so it would appear after Washington edged Cal 16-13 to pull within a game of bowl eligibility at 5-6, with only the feeble specter of Washington State (surely not due for two major upsets this season) standing in the way of the Huskies' first postseason appearance since 2002. Steve Sarkisian 's second season in charge hasn't always lived up to the outsized expectations of the preseason, but at least he can point towards some concrete progress.
Unfortunately for Jeff Tedford , unless you count the upcoming long-since-overdue renovations to the Bears' Memorial Stadium, "concrete progress" seems further away than ever. Kevin Riley 's career-ending injury a few weeks back appears to have been a fatal dagger for Cal's bowl hopes, which finally dissolved in the loss and resulting final record of 5-7. The record is the worst of Tedford's nine-year Cal tenure, with the Bears missing the postseason for the first time since -- whaddya know -- 2002. Tedford's not in any kind of trouble just yet (don't forget that Cal was hands-down the worst program in the Pac-10 when he took over), but the heady mid-aughts days when the Bears were serious Rose Bowl and BCS contenders have never seemed further away than they did on Saturday.
5. Rick Neuheisel had better have something more up his sleeve this offseason than just canning Norm Chow. Because when you give up 55 points to Arizona State 's backup quarterback , your offensive coordinator is pretty obviously not the only thing wrong with your football team.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 12:40 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Score one for the Eugene-based conspiracy theorists? A source within the Cal program has admitted to the Oregonian that the Bears' plans for slowing down Oregon 's ludicrous-speed attack encompassed more than just X's and O's:
"I know any time anybody goes down against Oregon, (Duck fans) always think that's the case, but it's not the case,'' Cal coach Jeff Tedford said when asked if the injuries were faked.Oh, well if only some of them were, Tedford's in the clear.
Quite frankly, it didn't take a Berkeley Deep Throat spilling the beans to ferret out Cal's less-than-sportsmanlike plans, as this widely-posted (and pleasantly soundtracked) video illustrates:
If there's any good news here for Ducks fans, it's that with so much focus on the Bears' tactics, now the officials will be empowered to step in and put a stop to these shenanigans, right? Not so much :
With the officials' hands tied, it would seem the only method of enforcement would be for the league office to review film like that posted above and come down on offenders like the Bears after the fact. But unless the problem becomes epidemic, it's unlikely the Pac-10 will act; for now, the Ducks will just have to hope their future opponents show more scruples than Tedford and his charges.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:21 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
You would think that a 41-0 loss to Stanford and a 35-7 loss to Oregon State would be enough bad news for one Saturday for Washington and Cal . Unfortunately for both teams, injuries to their starting quarterbacks mean that you'd think wrong.
For the Huskies' Jake Locker , the problem is a cracked rib that had already suffered a hairline fracture before being further exacerbated by the rough treatment from the Cardinal. Though the oft-injured Locker should be able to return before missing too much action -- the early indications seem to be that he could return for the Nov. 18 meeting with UCLA , meaning he'd sit out only one game -- the timing for Washington truly could not be worse, as this week's schedule sends the Huskies to Eugene to take on No. 1 Oregon .
Taking Locker's place will be redshirt freshman Keith Price , who'll be making his first career start at Autzen Stadium and will likely triple his 9 career passing attempts. Best of luck, Keith.
Things could be so much worse for Washington, though, as the knee injury suffered by Cal's Kevin Riley early in the Bears' loss in Corvallis illustrates. When even your head coach isn't really holding out hope for your return ...
Tedford acknowledged that the injury was serious, saying, "Right now, it looks a little bit more serious than just your everyday sprained knee" ...... things are not looking good. An MRI today should confirm the extent of Riley's injury, but if he's torn a ligament, the fifth-year senior's career at Cal will be over.
Replacing Riley will be junior Brock Mansion , who completed 14 of his 24 passes against the Beavers (including a late touchdown) but for only 5.8 yards an attempt. Mansion's a seasoned veteran compared to Price; he has 32 total career attempts.
The good news for the Bears is that Jeff Tedford has a strong track record of developing college quarterbacks, and that Mansion will have at least a week to get his feet underneath him against hapless Washington State . But unless Mansion is a stunningly quick learner (or Riley ends up OK), any hope of the Bears scoring the upset of the season when Oregon visits Nov. 13 has probably gone out the window.