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Football: Top of the morning to you

Cal coach Jeff Tedford talked after last season about examining everything that goes on his program. After doing so, one major change he is implementing next season is his players’ daily routine.


The Bears will now practice in the morning, leaving players the afternoons to go to class and work on their academics. That will also give players more free time in the evening.

Tedford said the main reason he made the switch is so players could maximize their days. He said most players were sleeping in and not starting their day of classes until later in the day. In the new arrangement, players are getting an earlier start to their day and being more efficient with their time.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays during the season, Cal will practice around 8:30 a.m. They will start at around 9:30 on Wednesdays. But the players’ football duties will commence much earlier than when they actually hit the field for practice. They will lift weights and have position meetings earlier in the morning, meaning an early wake-up call will be in order. That will be a substantial change from what players are used to.

“Waking up early is going to be tough, but once we get started I think guys will get adjusted,” Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said. “I think the day will go more smoothly.”

Tedford said he hopes players maximize their time so they are done with their academic stuff by evening. He wants them to have time to “decompress” and have time to themselves, while still getting to bed at a reasonable hour for the next morning’s practice.

One other change: Players will now have Sundays off instead of Monday. In the past, the Bears held a short conditioning practice on Sunday nights to get stretched out the day after a game. That practice will now take place Mondays instead of Sundays, with normal practices still being held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • David

    GOOD. To my understanding, they were practicing afternoons/evenings when everyone else is practicing at first day’s light.

  • milo

    Agreed, it sounds like a good if obvious move. I never really thought about practice time but there’s no logic (to me) for having in the afternoon except as a hold over from high school.

    I think the early starts on away games also become less of an issue. Remember Maryland? A 9:30 start is even more of a hassle if you’re use to practicing in the evening.

  • abe

    ’bout freakin’ time, i might add. the best time for any type of discipline based activity is at day break for nothing else teaches discipline more than waking up early in the morning itself. air is crisp so is the mind and the necessary focus for a more efficient absorption of the days lesson(s)is easier to achieve. moreover nice to see Tedford continuing to refine his method of running a college football program. after all lets not forget that this is his first head coaching job period, bcs or no bcs. despite the tremendous success he has had already, testament to this talent, he is clearly working himself into that elite bcs HC level.

  • GC

    Sounds good to me.

  • Bears

    Love it.
    Practicing early and taking Sunday off is good for our players.
    This is a smart move. As long as the players are disciplined so they get to bed early enough to recharge their batteries. No drinking/late nights during season. For the best teams college football is a lifestyle because they place ball and class as priority #1.
    This move makes it essential that the right priorities are being followed by the team. Guys who go out and party late night instead of sleeping and recovering will be easily picked out and won’t make it. They won’t be able to function/compete in the moring, they will be weeded out fast.
    The program will be very different, efficient and better because of these moves.
    Go Bears!

  • Dan

    Very good idea conceptually- many of the potential benefits are spelled out here in earlier posts. But, and there is always a but, we’ll see how the players respond.

    Kids tend toIf they think they are immortal, and could be tempted to burn the candle at both ends. Let’s hope that this is not the case, that they will become very mature and disciplined about this. If they do, there could be tremendous benefits from this. Even a team leader like Mike Mohamed sounds less than enthusiastic.

    One retort to Milo- it is very rare we have an early start, i.e., the Maryland game 2 seasons ago- in fact, when is there another one of those on the schedule? What is way more common are night games out west- are we tired late in night games here, as the game conclude near the players bedtime? Something to consider.

    Also, I wonder if this becomes a recruiting deterrent. Getting up that early is not very desireable to high school kids. Perhaps this will appeal to the right kind of recruit we want in hear at Cal.

    Overall, this is not common at other Pac 10/college football programs. It is more common in college basketball programs.

    JO- can you give us a recap of which Pac 10 teams practice in the AM in season? Thanks…Go Bears!

  • rollonubears

    dan, my thoughts exactly. these are college kids. also, some of them may not have come here if they knew this is how it would be. my thought is that overall this will be a good thing, but we’re probably going to end up with some suspensions internally for “violating team rules” or maybe even a transfer or 2 as a result of this. kids gotta have fun and party a little. and sleep is so important for athletes. additionally, they may be so tired after practice, that they blow off their studies in favor of “me time.” this is not the army.

  • milo

    @Dan, sure there’s rarely an early start like Maryland but there’s often 12:30 p.m. (PT) games so I still see morning practice as beneficial.

    From a time management perspective I think Tedford is right…more time to take care of business. Example: if a kid is lagging in school, he has the afternoon and evenings to catch up uninterrupted by practice.

    I don’t think there will be much drop off in recruits or increase in late night partying. Tedford’s academic game plan has been very successful and he runs not only a clean and responsible program. The APR ratings show this.

    Go Bears!

  • Dan

    To Milo- You kind of make my point. Tedford is already running a clean and tight ship, and the APR rating have been steadily improving. It seems he’s already done a great job in this area, the Cal players seem to be pretty solid and mature guys already in this sense. This seems a bit drastic and risky – maybe not warranted. Again, we’ll see. There are certainly some potential risks, and time, not speculation, will tell.

    I could see Chip Kelly doing something like this at Oregon given all the problems going on there but it’s not what jumps out to me at Cal to move the program ahead. It almost smacks of treating the players more like children.

    I still think the biggest thing Tedford can do is on him- don’t play so predictably and conservatively. Our Pac 10 oppponents that have good coaching staffs now gameplan and execute very well against ours. I think, in my opinion, is that he should open things up, play faster and more aggressively in all 3 phases of the game, and the players will rise up and respond. That’s on Tedford.

    Clancy Pendergrast has talked a good game so far, we’ll see if he opens it up. I think he will, at least more than what we saw last year. We’ll see if Tedford has Ludwig do the same with the offense. For all the changes I hear him talk about and implement the past few years, none have seemed to make a major difference. The performance has been pretty flat the past 3 seasons. We beat the bad teams, go .500 against the pretty good teams, and get HAMMERED by the top teams.

    The more I think about it, I am very cautiously hoping for the best case scenario.

  • DesertBear

    I’m flummoxed by these comments.

    Practicing in the mornings has NOTHING to do with preparing for comparable game situations. Read JO’s post where he says, “The Bears will now practice in the morning, leaving players the afternoons to go to class and work on their academics. That will also give players more free time in the evening.” This is the reason, and the sole reason, Tedford has made this change. Stop the over-analysis!

    This is teaching these kids to manage their time and become responsible adults. Heck, I wake up at 6am every morning to work out before school (or work) and I’m just motivated to stay in shape…not to proudly represent Cal in its quest to end a significant Rose Bowl drought.

    Good on Tedford for this decision.

  • rollonubears

    i admire that optimism

  • Daniel

    I woke up at 5 am to condition for wrestling even thought I hate mornings because the sport required it. Would I have gone to wrestle at a different high school if they offered evening practice?
    Sure if I had the option. Once I got to Cal & had the option, I scheduled exactly 1 class earler than 9 AM in 4 years. I only made it to that class because the gorgeous blonde prof talked about sex and god all morning.

    Recruits have the option.