Football: Bears legend Russell White named commissioner of the Oakland Athletic League

Ex-Cal star running back Russell White just took on a very tough job: He is the new commissioner of the Oakland Athletic League.

The OAL is one of the nation’s most storied public high school leagues, with alums that include Bill Russell, Frank Robinson, Curt Flood, Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson and Gary Payton.

But the six-team league struggles with finances and dwindling enrollments. Private schools take many of Oakland’s elite student-athletes these days, coaches come and go and facilities are sub-par.

In White, who coached football the past two seasons at Castlemont High in the OAL, the league got a man who has faced challenges and overcome obstacles.

One of the nation’s elite high school running back prospects, White was a non-academic qualifier out of Crespi-Encino. Cal, to its credit, took a chance on him. White sat out his freshman season to focus on academics, then stunned everyone by graduating in four years.

He did so perhaps to his own detriment, as his NFL draft stock slipped by his senior season. But White was determined to show he belonged at one of the nation’s top public universities, so he made graduating his No. 1 priority.

“Hopefully people will know that Russell White wasn’t the smartest guy in high school, but he figured it out,” White told our Jimmy Durkin.

And White more than lived up to his reputation on the field, too. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all three of his seasons, and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Miami the first time he touched the football in Memorial Stadium.

He still holds Cal’s career records with 3,367 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns.

Jeff Faraudo

  • milo

    Right on Russell White. That man is a true Golden Bear, and he has the freakin’ degree and guts to back it up.

  • rob bear

    Heck of a college running back. One of our best, EVER! Proud of you Mr. White! Best of luck in the new job and send some of those special ones to CAL!

  • Juancho

    Any relation to jamarcus russell ?

  • rollonubears

    photo gallery on the cal site from yesterday’s practice is AWESOME! just the one shot of kline dropping back for a pass looks amazing. they guy’s gonna be a star. i’m pumped for this season. right now, i’m pretending we had a game last night on espn, a big road win to kick off the season. we’ve got a bye next week, then it’s back to the field for the home opener against nevada. go bears!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Juancho Says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 11:53 pm
    Any relation to jamarcus russell ?

    HAHAHAHA…good one.

  • Juancho

    Rollon im just as excited. Especially because im taking my two best kids from the 14 and under baseball team i coach to opening day. I cant wait to hear the fight song in there. I cant wait for hear “hey alumni…..go….bears….go…”

    I always remember the first game someone took me to at Cal. And how much that meant to me. Hopefully it helps drive these guys to want to be students and baseball players there.

    by Juancho on Aug 17, 2012 at 9:17 am

  • Steve W

    Been watching Cal football for 27 years. Russell White Was the most exciting player during that period, more fun to watch than Best, Vereen, Arrington, Chapman, or anybody else I can’t name at the moment. Why he didn’t stay in shape during his short stint in the NFL is still a mystery to me.