Football: Bay Area prep coach to join Bears’ staff

Brian Hamilton, who developed Concord High’s football team into a consistent winner, will join Cal coach Sonny Dykes’ staff as a quality control assistant, sources confirmed.

The position is part-time and is not included among Bears’ nine full-time assistant coaches. But it’s a step into major college football for Hamilton, who has served as the Minutemen’s coach the past 11 seasons.

Hamilton has a record of 81-48-1 at Concord, including 68-22-1 the past seven seasons. Concord won the North Coast Section Division 2 title in 2010, when Hamilton was voted East Bay Coach of the Year, and was the NCS runnerup in 2011 and 2014.

Cal has not announced the hiring and Hamilton could not be reached for comment.


Basketball: Jaylen Brown says Bears ‘can win it all’

Jaylen Brown realizes not everyone understood his decision to play basketball at Cal, but he is happy after six weeks of summer school and has big plans for this season.

“I have very high expectations. I think we can win it all,” Brown said Thursday in his first interaction with Bay Area media. “We have a lot of work to do, but we have very good pieces.”

A 6-foot-7 small forward and consensus top-five national recruit from Marietta, Georgia, Brown could have attended any school in the country. By picking Cal, he raised eyebrows in the college basketball community and even among some of those close to him.

“Some were very supportive and happy, and others were very . . . I wouldn’t say non-supportive, but they weren’t the happiest with my decision,” Brown explained.

“It wasn’t as typical as how a highly recruited athlete usually goes to a much bigger basketball university. I had to make the decision for me and I felt like this was clearly my best choice.”

Brown, attending Cal’s summer bridge program for incoming freshmen and preparing for the Bears’ Aug. 13-24 exhibition trip to Australia, said he “fell in love with the campus” when he made an unofficial visit to Berkeley before making his decision after the season last spring.

Academics, weather and location all played a role in his decision to pick Cal, Brown said.

His relationship with Cal coach Cuonzo Martin began when he was a freshman and Martin was coaching at Tennessee, and fellow prep star Ivan Rabb’s decision to attend Cal also influenced his thinking.

Former Cal and NBA star Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who attended Wheeler High in Marietta two decades before Brown arrived on the same campus, shared his experience at Berkeley with Brown.

“He said to dive into being here, focus on the now. He said it will be some of the best times you’ll ever have,” Brown said. “He was a mentor of mine, but my decision was my own.”

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Football: Bar raised as media pick Cal 3rd in North

Two years removed from a 1-11 season, the Bears were projected to finish third in the Pac-12 North on Thursday in a vote of 45 media members.

Cal got 174 votes to easily top Washington (129) for third.

USC was picked to win the Pac-12 South and was a slight favorite over projected North division winner Oregon to capture the conference title game.

Stanford was picked second in the Pac-12 North.

The media has correctly picked the conference champ 29 times in 54 years, including 12 of the past 15.

Pac-12 Football Media Poll


1. Oregon (37) ………….. 262 votes

2. Stanford (8) …………. 231

3. Cal ………………………. 174

4. Washington ………….. 129

5. Washington State …… 89

6. Oregon State …………. 60


1. USC (32) ………………… 254

2. Arizona State (7) …….. 200

3. UCLA (6) ……………….. 180

4. Arizona ………………….. 155

5. Utah ………………………. 105

6. Colorado …………………. 46

Pac-12 title game champion: USC (21 votes). Others receiving votes: Oregon (17), Arizona State (3), UCLA (2), Stanford (1).



Football: Projected starting center Matt Cochran no longer on team — and he’s not the only one who is gone

Junior Matt Cochran, who emerged from spring ball as the projected starter at center, no longer is on the Cal football, a spokesperson for the athletic department confirmed.

No reason was immediately provided. Cochran is still a student at Cal, the school said.

Cochran is among six players who were with the Bears in spring workouts but are no longer on the roster. An athletic department spokesman said coach Sonny Dykes would have to provide details Friday at Pac-12 Media Day in Burbank.

Obviously, this is not the kind of news the Bears need one week before the start of fall camp.

Also gone are sophomore offensive lineman Myles Bunte, sophomore cornerback Trey Cheek, junior linebacker Maximo Espitia, wide receiver Cameron Stevens and linebacker Arthur Wainwright.

Espitia (19 games), Wainwright (11) and Cheek (6) all had playing experience on defense, although none of them ever started a game for the Bears or was projected as a starter this fall.

A 6-foot-3, 295-pounder from Atwater, Cochran had played in 13 games with four starts in his first two seasons.

Cal’s current projected depth chart has redshirt freshmen Addison Ooms and Michael Trani listed Nos. 1 and 2 at center.

Redshirt sophomore Aaron Cochran, Matt’s younger brother, remains on the team.


Admissions: New standards to challenge Bears

To build a football contender in the Pac-12 Conference, Cal coach Sonny Dykes will need to deal with more than Oregon, Stanford and the Los Angeles schools. He also must contend with a new admission policy, implemented by the school.

Most Cal athletes going forward will be required to have a 3.0 grade-point average in high school. That’s substantially lower than the general student body at Cal, but it’s higher than any Pac-12 school except Stanford. The new standards begin to go into effect this fall, when 40 percent of the incoming athletes must have a 3.0 GPA or better. That number climbs to 60 percent next year and to 80 percent in 2017.

Can Cal thrive on the sports field — particularly in football and men’s basketball — facing those demands in the classroom in the ferocious modern landscape of intercollegiate sports?

Dykes said he is confident the Bears can win games and graduate players. “I believe that more strongly today than I did when I took the job,” said Dykes, who was hired in December 2012.

Basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, coming off his first season at Cal, is just as optimistic as Dykes that the higher academic standards won’t impact the won-lost record. “You understand it’s a tremendous institution when you take over the job. You know what you’re getting into.”

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Football: Veteran defensive coach John Lovett hired to handle cornerbacks, completing Bears’ staff

Cal coach Sonny Dykes completed his football staff Monday with the hiring of John Lovett, who has more than four decades of experience in college and the NFL. Lovett, 64, will coach the Bears’ cornerbacks.

Lovett has coached in 10 bowls games and for seven seasons in the NFL, including the 2013 and ’14 seasons working with defensive backs for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We are thrilled to be able to add someone with John’s level of experience and expertise to our coaching staff,” Dykes said in a statement. “He is a proven coach who has had success at the highest level of football.”

Lovett’s hiring allows Cal to have five full-time coaches on its defensive staff, with Greg Burns now handling strictly safeties. Dykes will take on the assignment of coaching wide receivers.

Lovett fills the coaching spot that opened when receivers coach Pierre Ingram was fired after an April 16 arrest for suspicion of misdemeanor solicitation.

Lovett’s previous college coaching jobs include Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Texas Tech.

Lovett worked previously with Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman at both Texas Tech and Ole Miss and said the chance to reunite was a factor in his decision to accept Cal’s job offer.

“I’m excited to be joining a Cal program on the rise and a tremendous coaching staff led by Sonny Dykes,” Lovett said. “I’m also looking forward to working with Art Kaufman again.”

The Bears begin practice Aug. 7.


Football: Goff on Maxwell Award watch list

Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff was named to the preseason watch list for the 79th annual Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s top college football player.

Goff already holds 19 Cal school records and enters the 2015 season having passed for 7,481 yards and 53 touchdowns in his career.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced Nov. 2, with the three finalists unveiled Nov. 23.

Returning Maxwell Award semifinalists include Florida State transfer quarterback Everett Golson, who is looking to replace Jameis Winston, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Pittsburgh running back James Conner, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and returning Maxwell Award finalist Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

Defending national champion Ohio State has four players on the list, including running back Ezekiel Elliott and three accomplished quarterbacks, Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller.

Goff is among 13 Pac-12 players on the preseason watch list, also including Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and USC quarterback Cody Kessler.


Basketball: Roman Davis signs with Bears

Small forward Roman Davis, who gave Cal an oral commitment late last week, has signed with the Bears and will enroll in summer bridge classes, coach Cuonzo Martin announced.

“I want to welcome Roman to the family,” Martin said. “His athleticism and toughness will allow him to do a lot of things in our program. Defensively, I think he has the capability to guard all five positions. He comes from one of the finest academic high schools in California. We are excited he chose to be a Golden Bear.”

The 6-foot-7, 200-pound Davis played at the Windward School in Los Angeles, where he averaged 9.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game as a senior this past year for the Wildcats. Davis helped Windward to a 22-11 overall record.

Davis record the game-winning bucket in the final seconds in back-to-back games for the Wildcats this past January. He posted seven blocks in a game during Windward’s Division 5AA playoff run in February.

Davis was selected to the 2015 Division 5AA All-California Interscholastic Federation Boys Basketball Team, as voted by the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association.



Football: Bears add three recruits

So I take a little vacation, and Cal responds with a busy recruiting week.

The Bears got their third oral commitment of the week on Friday when Chris Yaghi, a defensive tackle from Foothill-Santa Ana, made his announcement on Twitter.

Rivals reports that Yaghi picked Cal over the likes of Oregon, Boise State and Utah, among others, in part because of the school’s strong engineer program. The 6-foot-3 1/2, 265-pounder is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout.

Earlier, Cal got commitments from cornerback Camryn Bynum of Centennial-Corona and offensive lineman Francisco Perez of Baldwin Park.

Bynum, at 5-11, 160, is rated three stars by Rivals and Scout. His other offers included Boston College, San Diego State, Boise State and Washington State.

Perez, a 6-5, 301-pounder, is projected as a guard Rivals, which gives him three stars. Scout also rates Perez as a three-star prospect. Perez had offers from four other Pac-12 schools, including Arizona State and Oregon State.

Cal’s 2016 recruiting class now numbers 16 prospects. Scout and Rivals both rank the Bears’ class at No. 28 nationally, fifth-best in the Pac-12. Cal is