Football: Cal’s bowl outlook and more

Just a few tidbits in the aftermath of Cal’s 47-38 victory over Arizona State …

–I talked to a few bowl officials from around the Pac-12 today and they all had really good things to say about Cal. I’ll have a story about that in tomorrow’s paper. The Bears could land in a game as high as the Alamo Bowl – the No. 2 Pac-12 bowl behind the Rose Bowl – although lots of factors come into play here. First, Stanford and Oregon would each have to get invited to Bowl Championship Series games, which boost other Pac-12 schools a little higher on the bowl ladder. The Alamo Bowl would then likely be choosing between Cal, Utah and Washington. The Holiday Bowl, which picks third, also likes Cal very much. And if the Bears slip past them, I’d be very surprised if they don’t get chosen by the Sun Bowl, in which Cal has never played. The Las Vegas Bowl is looking unlikely, and the chances of Cal playing in front of the local fans at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl appear pretty remote, though Gary Cavalli, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl executive director, is confident in landing a quality team from the conference.

A few factors to consider:
Cal has played very well late in the season and that makes a strong impression. Rick Hill, the Alamo Bowl’s director of marketing and communications, also noted that the Bears have been on ESPN the past two weeks against Stanford and Arizona State, so the San Antonio market (where the Alamo Bowl is played) has been exposed to Cal and the team has put up strong showings. But Hill also added that Washington has been televised in San Antonio even more this season.

Mark Neville, the Holiday Bowl’s director of communications, said his bowl places heavy emphasis on the “football” aspects for choosing a team – win/loss record and head-to-head matchups, as opposed to how many fans will travel, the potential for TV ratings, etc. Besides, Neville said Pac-12 (or Pac-10) schools traditionally travel well to the Holiday Bowl no matter who is chosen.

The Alamo Bowl, which pits a Big 12 school against a Pac-12 school, looks for a good built-in storyline when pairing up two teams. Since the Big 12 regular season doesn’t finish until next weekend, the Alamo Bowl won’t be extending any invites until then, which means other Pac-12 bowl selections also will have to wait in the trickle-down effect.

–Isi Sofele now ranks sixth on Cal’s single-season rushing list with 1,266 yards: The next back ahead of him is Marshawn Lynch, who gained 1,356 yards in 2006.

–No word yet on the seriousness of freshman cornerback Stefan McClure’s injury on Friday night. Obviously his health is pretty big for this team looking to the future.

–Friday’s late kickoff was absolutely brutal from a deadline standpoint, which is why I really didn’t get a chance to blog during or after the game. I was writing for our various print editions as the game was unfolding. Glad to see the spirited dialogue carried on regardless …

–Cal is taking most of next week off. We don’t know when they’ll resume practice just yet, so blogs may be light in the coming days.

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich