Medicine and sports journalism makes for strange bedfellows. And so it is that I jump into the breach with "TheInsiders" and CyberBears founder Chris Avery (a.k.a. Greybear), whose many loyalists I have antagonized over the past five seasons of covering Cal football for the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers."> Medicine and sports journalism makes for strange bedfellows. And so it is that I jump into the breach with "TheInsiders" and CyberBears founder Chris Avery (a.k.a. Greybear), whose many loyalists I have antagonized over the past five seasons of covering Cal football for the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers.">

Cal Bears open a new era with Tedford at the helm

<font face="Verdana" size="2" color="#000080">Medicine and sports journalism makes for strange bedfellows. And so it is that I jump into the breach with "TheInsiders" and CyberBears founder Chris Avery (a.k.a. Greybear), whose many loyalists I have antagonized over the past five seasons of covering Cal football for the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers.</font>

What, you don't think I read the message boards?

GreyBear assures me that we're not going to get rich off this project, so rest assured that greed is not a motivating factor in forging this unusual alliance. But passion is. You, the die-hard fringe of Cal fans, possess an undying passion for information about your team. I have a passion for collecting and dispersing it.

It won't always be what you want to hear, but anyone who has followed my coverage of the team since 1997 already knows that. I'm well aware that my name been pursued by the virtual lynch mob on CyberBears on countless occasions. Color me flattered.

So you've been warned: if you prefer your reality tinted with rose, feel free to turn to the sports pages of the Bay Area's other newspapers. Although I have a deep and abiding respect for former coach Tom Holmoe, am genuinely impressed with his replacement, Jeff Tedford, and have forged many-a-relationship with players and their families over the years, my professional obligations don't permit me to be blind to the obvious: that Cal will be attempting to dig itself out of a long, dark hole in 2002.

As Aldus Huxley once said, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

Or, my personal favorite, courtesy of Harry Truman: "I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it is hell."

So, if you'd like to join me on a daring peak behind the curtain of Cal football, come on in ...

Random musings:

First-year athletic director Steve Gladstone has been called bold, and he's certainly that. He's been called a visionary, and he surely doesn't suffer from lack of imagination.

But his legacy as an AD may have been forged the night he agreed to take the job. Gladstone demanded the budget to treat the long-neglected football program like a first-class citizen, and chancellor Robert Berdahl agreed.

Aside from new coach Jeff Tedford making nearly twice as much as predecessor Tom Holmoe, the biggest sign that Cal is attempting to break free of its frugal reputation is the presence of Paul Shea - the director of football operations. That's a new position at Cal, one for which Holmoe pleaded for the better part of his five-season tenure. While the coaching offices at Memorial Stadium were being renovated and former coordinators Lyle Setencich and Al Borges were receiving hefty raises, Holmoe was saddled with his own operations work - bargaining with the bus companies, hotels and caterers, etc.

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Tedford will be constantly reminded of his progress by the albatross hanging above him on the west rim of Memorial Stadium.

Cal's three-story, two-level press box is being razed over the next 6-7 weeks, and executive associate athletic director Bob Rose has estimated that the "temporary" structure replacing it could remain for up to four years. Make no mistake: it's Tedford's job to induce Cal donors to cough up the as-yet undetermined funds for a permanent structure in considerably less time than that.

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Although Tedford spoke glowingly of quarterback Kyle Boller when he accepted the job in December, he's been a bit more blunt in his recent assessments.

"Kyle has some technique and fundamental flaws we need to work on," Tedford said in the days leading up to the opening of spring ball. "He needs to be more compact in everything - his delivery, his presence in the pocket ... (the quarterbacks) need to understand that you don't need to take sacks."

Although Boller was clearly passing better than his fellow QBs during Monday's inaugural spring practice, Tedford hadn't altered his opinion much after the session.

"Not great," Tedford said of Boller. "He looked just average today. As he experiments with fundamentals, sometimes the big picture will suffer."

Tedford, however, acknowledged Boller's willingness to be coached - one of his consistent virtues since arriving in 1999 among more hype and expectation than any QB recruit in Cal history.

Boller, a senior this fall, has come to the realization that he's arrived at the last roundup.

"I know if I bust my ass, I can't let myself get beat out," he said. "I'm living, eating and breathing football. ... My goal is to get to the NFL. I can't have a better coach to get me where I need to be, and get this team where it needs to be."

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Leaping into contention for NCAA Division I-A's Name of the Year: Adimchinobe Echemaandu. Pretty snazzy moniker for a guy named Joe.

Junior tailback Joseph Echema has re-adopted his Nigerian birth name, part of what he hopes will be a reinvention process. Echema was sidelined last season by the NCAA's "75/25 rule" for registering more than 25 percent of his sophomore credits in summer school.

"It's just all about what I went through last year," Echemaandu said of his name change following Monday's opening of spring ball. "I made a dedication with myself to put this program back on track. The name comes with the different mentality."

Discussion Forum Question of the Week:

With the return of senior tailback Joe Igber from a shoulder injury and junior tailback Adimchinoba Echemaandu (formerly Joseph Echema) from academic ineligibility, should sophomore Terrell Williams - Cal's leading rusher with 688 yards as a true freshman last season - redshirt in 2002?

(Ed. Note: Use the left menu item called "Insiders Boards" and go to the discussion board called "Responses to Brian Higgins")


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