Archive for June, 2007

Big Game tickets purchased

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Today was the day that all us poor yet die-hard Cal fans were waiting for.  It was the day, after a month of rich donors getting their chance, for season ticket holders to purchase Big Game tickets.  Tickets went on sale at 8:30 AM.

Long story short… I got my order for 4 tickets (the maximum) processed at 9:05 AM.

And it’s a good thing too, the tickets sold out before 10:00 AM.  The Athletic office put up an announcement mid-day telling the world the same thing.  So sadly for all of you who are reading this before you put in your order… better luck next time.

Well not quite… There are still ways to get tickets (in order from cheapest to most expensive):

  1. Buy Big Game tickets from Stanford – $50 per seat (will there be any left when they go on sale August 1st?  And do you want to sit amongst people who can’t tell that a dormatory impostor is living on campus?)
  2. StubHub – $115 minimum (A number available right now, some in visitor section)
  3. E-Bay – unknown price (none available right now and might get pretty pricey before the game.  Plus it might be tough to know if you’re sitting in Bear Territory or Loser Land)
  4. Buy season tickets for Stanford football – minimum $185 per seat or $190 for family plan plus $50 a ticket for Big Game, up to 6 tickets (Pretty much a guaranteed ticket, probably even after August 1st when the single tickets go on sale, but you’ll be sitting amongst people who don’t mind a band that trashes their own building and you’ll be giving a bunch of money to the Evil Enemy!)

Other options anyone?

Depending on who you talk to, waiting until November to purchase from StubHub or E-Bay is either a good idea or a bad idea.  Some think that demand will only continue to rise as fewer and fewer tickets are available for bidding on and prices will rise.  Others think that when (not if) Stanford’s season goes into the tank, Stanford “fans” will be dumping their tickets like they’re going out of style.  My advice?  Generally I’m a fan of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”  I’d either get tickets on StubHub now or wait until August 1st to see if I could get single game tickets from Stanford then and buy on StubHub shortly there after if I couldn’t get single game tickets.

No GameDay – verified

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Well, the news broke today that ABC/ESPN will be sending their GameDay crew (not to be confused with TV coverage of the game), to Virginia Tech instead of Berkeley for week 1 of the season.  See the announcement from Virginia Tech here.  That’s what I suspected was going to happen all along but The Bear Insider article a couple months ago got everyone excited.  This is definitely a black eye for them because not only did they write the errant article, they also defended it in their message board long after it was clear that the decision had not been made.

Of course I’m disappointed, but at the same time, I understand ABC/ESPN’s motives.  Hopefully we’ll have GameDay in Berkeley for the USC game.

Louisiana Tech game to be televised on Comcast Sports Network

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The Cal Athletic Department has announced that a TV contract for the game vs. Louisiana Tech on Sept. 15th will be televised on the Comcast Sports Network.  Now all 3 of Cal’s non-conference games have TV contracts.  In addition to that being good news for the number of games televised, we also get a game time, set for 3:30 PM.

As a reminder, here’s the Cal TV schedule (all times Pacific):

  • 9/1 Tennessee, ABC 5:00 PM
  • 9/8 @Colorado St., CSTV 11:00 AM
  • 9/15 Louisiana Tech., CSN 3:30 PM
  • 10/27 @ASU, FSN 7:00 PM
  • 11/3 WSU, FSN 7:00 PM
  • 11/10 USC, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 5:00 PM
  • 12/1 @Stanford, Versus 4:00 PM

We can say with some confidence that there won’t be any more TV announcements between now and when the season starts.  Now that ABC/ESPN and FSN (and Versus by proxy) have made their pre-season selections (they make additional ones mid-season), the only thing left to wait on was non-conference games, which have more contractual scheduling flexibility to schedule outside of our Pac-10 contracts.  The Louisiana Tech. game was the last non-conference game to schedule so now we done until the mid-season selections.

Or at least that’s the way I understand it…

To understand those mid-season selections by ABC/ESPN and FSN/Versus, I went to the official Pac-10 TV schedule where they list the selections still to be made.  Here is a list of each game remaining and the mid-season selections to be made:

  • 9/22 Arizona: FSN and Versus (have a selection)
  • 9/29 @Oregon: ABC/ESPN and FSN
  • 10/13 OSU: ABC/ESPN, FSN and Versus
  • 10/20 @UCLA: ABC/ESPN
  • 11/17 @Washington: ABC/ESPN

To my eye, the week that is a big risk for not having a televised game is @Washington.  The 3 early games all have multiple television options and look like compelling enough games to get picked up by one of them (Arizona=revenge (I guess FSN), Oregon is always a big deal (ABC), OSU will likely be strong this year (ABC)).  Additionally, I’m pretty confident that SOMEBODY will televise the Cal vs. UCLA game and I think has the inside track on the ABC selection (the other options are Stanford at Arizona or Oregon at Washington).  That leaves Washington as the weak spot.  The good news for the Washington game is that, looking at the Pac-10 game schedule, there is only one competing game: Oregon St. at Washington St., a similarly unattractive game for a TV network.  Nevertheless, it’s a concerning week with few options on a game that is likely to have low amounts of hype.

The week of 11/17 might be a good time to make a trip to Washington…

Looking back on 2006: The Minnesota Game

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

(Note to readers: Today we continue in our look back at the games in the 2006 season with Minnesota.  Here are links to our past look backs: Tennessee) 

The storyline:
All eyes were on Cal and whether they could rebound from the disaster in Tennessee.  In their way was a Minnesota team which seemed to be on the rise after a 1st week blowout over Kent State.  Cal more than rebounded by lighting up the Minnesota defense for 42 points and 557 yards.  Cal QB Longshore displayed why he won the starting job over Joe Ayoob with his ability to throw the long ball with good touch.

The reality:
While it was true that the passing game of Cal came to life in this game, it was the running game that setup the victory.  By pounding away at Minnesota with the one-two punch of Lynch and Forsett, Cal was able to open up the passing game.  Additionally, the defense, which held Minnesota to 10 points (the remaining 7 came off a kickoff return), was able to shutdown the powerful Big-10 run offense of Minnesota.

The forgotten:
Forgotten in this game was that it didn’t start out as a Cal blowout.  Cal went 3 and out on it’s first possession and Minnesota responded with a touchdown drive made up of a long misdirection pass play and the power running game.  While Cal was able to rebound on their second possession and tie the score at 7, the score remained 7-7 until the 2nd quarter.

The 2006 learnings:
The big learning from this game was that DeSean Jackson had arrived as Cal’s premier wide receiver.  The Longshore to Jackson connection was in full force starting with the Minnesota game.  Another learning was that Syd’Quan Thompson was able to rebound from his poor performance at Tennessee and was going to be at a minimum a serviceable cornerback.  Finally, it was learned that Cal could play a physical run defense.  While this should have been clear from the Tennessee game, the blowout hid this fact.  The Minnesota game re-confirmed that the Cal run defense would be strong.

The 2007 implications:
Without Minnesota on the schedule for 2007, nor a team with a similar style of play, the implications are limited to general team performance.  For one, it was Tedford’s 5h consecutive win in their home opener.  Hopefully that bodes well for the Tennessee game to open the season.  On the flip side, it shows just how resilient Cal can be after a big loss and that there is reason to believe that even if Cal gets blown out by Tennessee twice, that there is still hope for the rest of the season.  Finally, Cal’s defensive line got some time to play backups at the end of this game, specifically Tyson Alualu, and there is reason to be hopeful.

The Conclusion:
The Minnesota game was the beginning of a long run of wins for Cal.  How much would we love to see that run start with the opening game of 2007?

Looking back on 2006: Tennessee game

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

(Note to readers: There are less than 7 weeks left until fall practice starts.  At a rate of two games a week I’ll be able to review each of the 2006 games between now and the start of fall practice.  We start today with Tennessee.)

The storyline:
Cal went to Tennessee highly ranked with high expectations.  The Bears got their lunches handed to them in a blowout where Tennessee looked faster, stronger, better prepared and ready with a better game plan.  Tennessee scored 35 unanswered points in the first 40 minutes of the game.  Cal was able to save some face at the end of the game by closing the score to 35-18, but that rebound was generally discarded in the analysis of the game because of the 35-0 3rd quarter score.

The reality:
While there is no debating the blowout, the disparity between the two teams was not as great as the score suggested.  The reality is that a handful of big plays in the 3rd quarter is what put the game away.  Cal was only down 7-0 with 4 minutes left in the first half, and while the Tennessee offense was definitely performing better than Cal’s, Cal had shown signs of life at times and there was reason to be hopeful.  Along the same lines, much of the Cal offensive struggles were self-inflicted.  Penalties, dropped balls, gitters in Longshore and missed blocking assignments slowed the offense as much if not more than Tennessee’s defense.  That said, there is no debating that starting with the first of the big plays at the end of the 1st half, both Cal’s offense and defense fell apart for about a quarter of the game.  By the time they recovered, the game was long over.

The forgotten:
Forgotten in this game was how competitive Cal was in the 1st half.  High expectations and total Tennessee homers announcing the game on TV helped exacerbate the problem.  Also forgotten was that Lynch only had 12 carries but managed 76 yards and that when Cal was in running downs and running formations (as opposed to the “Dunbar spread”), Cal was able to run against Tennessee.  Unfortunately for Lynch, between penalties, dropped balls and a poor game plan, there weren’t many power running opportunities for him to work his magic.  Another forgotten factor was that this was really Longshore’s first start and his jitters had a larger impact on the game than remembered.  Finally forgotten was the success Cal’s run defense had in slowing Tennessee in the first half.

The 2006 learnings:
This might sound odd since it was Longshore who was unable to score, the number one learning from this game for the 2006 season was that Ayoob was not improved from 2005 and didn’t deserve a second shot as being the starter QB.  While Ayoob was able to generate some offense, much of it was against the 2nd string Tennessee defense, he still made a number of mind-numbingly bad decisions of the type that plagued his 2005 season.  Another learning was that the Tedford-Dunbar combined offense still had some kinks to be worked out.  A number of the failed plays in the 1st half for the Cal offense were clearly poorly designed plays that were not seen often after the opener.  While it wasn’t time to write a eulogy, there were reasons to be concerned.  Finally, we learned that Cal was definitely hurt by the loss of Tim Mixon and was going to have to give Syd Thompson some safety help while he developed as a corner.

The 2007 implications:
Seeing as how Cal gets a re-match at home against Tennessee in the 1st game of the season, there are more implications from this game than I could list.  Speaking generically, Cal will have to play a lot more polished game to have a hope of beating Tennessee this year.  Tennessee clearly came into the game well prepared and ready to strike.  While the home-field advantage helps, it’s still clear that they were ready to play.  Additionally, it’s pretty clear that for Cal to be able to run the football, they’re going to have to play some power football.  Tennessee is too fast and too strong for “cute” run plays to work or for running out of a spread formation to be successful.  Hopefully the return to the traditional Tedford offense will serve us better than the experimental Dunbar-Tedford hybrid spread did against Tennessee in 2006.

The Conclusion:
In many ways, the emotion of the 2006 Tennessee game made the black eye that it was look worse than it was.  In reality, while the game will always remain painful, there is reason to hope that the 2007 game will have a different outcome.  Cal, contrary to popular opinion, was talented enough to beat Tennessee.  Poor play, inexperience, a weak game plan, a huge home field advantage for Tennessee and some big plays turned a game between two fairly comparable programs into a forgettable blowout.

Barbour writes letter to Cal supporters

Monday, June 18th, 2007

No need to comment on it, just wanted to share:

Father’s day column

Friday, June 15th, 2007

This is a hilarious column about how Dad’s get the shaft compared to Mom’s and mother’s day.

While the column is entirely light hearted and not intended to be any treatise on being a good father, the comments on the article at got surprisingly nasty.  Comments about how “too bad you’re kids suck” or whining from fathers about what they did or didn’t get that just isn’t funny.  But one comment struck me as true, although way too negative for such a light-hearted column:

Dads are for giving not getting… I don’t need from the kids I give to the kids. Someday they’ll know this and appreciate it. Hallmark moments are for the ladies…

While I think mothers also get great joy in giving to their children and the “Hallmark moment” statement is over the top, I think it is very different for fathers than mothers.  For mothers, I think providing has a much more emotional aspect to it and a more protective manifestation.  For fathers, providing is much more material and concrete.  Men really do like to provide for the family.  I’ve found it to be true myself.  In fact, it’s surprised me just how important it is to me to be able to provide for my family and the offense I take when I find myself unable to provide or I get criticism of what I provide.  Said another way, I take great pride in it.

Before my favorite blog critics jump in and call me sexist, I’m not at all saying that a woman isn’t capable of materially providing for a family.  Nor am I saying that it is wrong for a woman to work or for her to make more than her husband.  Nor am I saying that it is intrinsically wrong for a man to stay home and take care of the kids.

What I am saying is that I think men are “wired” in such a way that they take great pleasure in providing both the material and moral foundation for their family.  When I think of what I most appreciate about my dad and what I goal for in being a dad it always comes back to the lessons I learned from him (moral foundation) and the sacrifices he made to make sure that I always had a roof over my head (material foundation) until I graduated from college, debt free I might add.  Those foundations made me into the man and father I am and I pray that I can continue good a father and husband for the rest of my days.

What do I want for father’s day?  I don’t want a gift or a bad golfer card (an aspect of the column I found particuarly funny), I want the satisfaction of watching my children play freely in the backyard knowing they are safe and provided for, knowing that I gave that to them.

What’s wrong with reproductive cloning?

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I was thinking over the various issues associated to ESCR (Embryonic Stem Cell Research) when a thought occured to me: everyone always recoils over the issue of cloning, but why is that?  I mean, I know why I’m against it.  It’s contrary to God’s design of how we are conceived, which is naturally through sexual intercourse.  But most of society doesn’t agree with me about that being at all important as can be seen by the vast support for test tube babies and the such.

Is there are argument against reproductive cloning that doesn’t hinge on natural conception?

I’m not talking about arguments against killing embryos/babies like ESCR or organ farming would do.  I’m talking about arguments against creating a cloned embryo, implanting that embryo in a woman and raising it as if it were a regular son or daughter, particularly arguments that don’t also apply to non-eugenic (i.e. sex selection, disability filtering, etc.) artificial implantation.

Anyone have any ideas?

Trial date set for Cal vs. the world lawsuit

Friday, June 15th, 2007

A trial date has finally been set for the Cal High Performance Center (HPC) lawsuits.  Just to recap, the City of Berkeley, the Panaramic Hills Association (a home owners association) and some tree-sitters have all sued Cal to block construction of the HPC.  The 3 separate suits were joined into one and then a preliminary hearing was heard in late Janaury at which a temporary injunction was granted to stop construction until a trial could be held.  The driver for the injunction was that the earthquake fault data was potentially incomplete.  The trial was to be held in June or July.

Since that time, the University has expanded their earthquake testing and everything has come out in favor of the University.  That was a necessary first step to getting the trial under way and since that data wasn’t released until late May, it slowed the trial a bit.

The new trial date is September 19th.  The same judge who granted the preliminary injunction, judge Barbara Miller, will be handling the actual case.

Overall this is good news.  It’s good news because the trial will be happening early enough, albeit later than originally hopeed, that construction can begin immediately after the season ends (the last home game is November 10th) if Cal wins the case.  While others may disagree, I think having judge Miller preside over the case is also a good thing.  Her preliminary ruling, although not what Bear fans wanted to hear, was a reasonable decision under the circumstances.  I don’t see her as an activist judge.  Also, since her injunction was in regards to one specific issue and not a plethora of issues, it seems to follow that since that issue has been resolved, that she is likely to rule in Cal’s favor.

The final reason this is good news is that it lights a fire under the 3 plaintiffs regarding any desire they may have to settle.  Particulary now that we have a fixed date for a trial with a judge who made it clear what needed to happen for Cal to win, and Cal has satisfied that requirement, the plaintiffs should have a strong desire to settle to get concessions instead of losing outright in court.  It’s one thing to talk settlement when neither the trial date nor the judge has been set.  There’s a new urgency once the clock officially starts ticking.

Big Game to be televised on “Versus” TV station

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Man, this MUST be the year that Cal got the short straw in TV coverage.  Not only will the road game versus Colorado St. be on CSTV, the Big Game will be on Versus.  It’s hard to say which is a worse TV package.  I know for me, I get Versus but will have to pay a package upgrade fee to get CSTV.  From the sounds of it, Versus is included in a lot more cable packages that CSTV.  On the other hand, if you’ve been reading my Americas Cup blog entries you’d know that Versus gets extra points from me for covering my beloved sailing events.  At the same time, CSTV at least is a channel that focuses on college sports unlike Versus which covers everything from sailing to the Premier Darts League and in fairness to Versus, playoff NHL hockey.

Speaking of which, every Cal fan really needs to read SFGate’s editorial about the Big Game TV deal.  Here are a couple of the highlights from it:

  • “It televises the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is either a yacht race or a competition among airport baggage handlers.”  (Of course all my readers know it is the lead-up to the Americas Cup.)
  • “The Versus series “Holy @#%*!” is not a religious program but rather a roundup of “snowmobile crashes, rodeo wrecks, bungee-jumping disasters and skydiving mishaps.” Stanford football highlights could be added to that mix, depending.”  (A well played shot if there ever was one)
  • “Cal supporters should remember that the Big Game isn’t exactly a dream matchup for much of America, although some viewers might be drawn in by the Stanford Band’s halftime ‘Salute to Bungee Jumping Disasters.'” (Another good shot!)

Finally, although the Versus/Big Game deal makes the headlines, two other games got standard issue TV deals announced.  The game at ASU will be on FSN at 7:00 PM and the WSU game in Berkeley will also be on FSN at 7:00 PM.  Personally, I think I might revise my ASU game prediction with the new late start time… I think that works in Cal’s favor.

So, to sumerize, here is the current list of Cal Bear games on TV:

  • Tennessee – 9/1 @ 5:00 PM on ABC
  • @Colorado St. – 9/8 @ 11:00 AM on CSTV
  • @ASU – 10/27 @ 7:00 PM on FSN
  • WSU – 11/3 @ 7:00 PM on FSN
  • USC – 11/10 @ 5:00 PM on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
  • @Stanford – 12/1 @ 4:00 PM on Versus