Football: Center Brian Schwenke wants a piece of Memorial Stadium history — the first TD

Senior center Brian Schwenke, talking with reporters after practice on Wednesday, said he sees no reason why he cannot daydream about being the first player to score a touchdown.

We think it’s a fine idea, too.

Frankly, there’s little chance he will follow in the footsteps of former Cal All-America center Edwin “Babe” Horrell, who scored the first touchdown in Memorial Stadium’s 1923 debut game.

(Click here for 10 pieces of trivia about the first game played at Memorial Stadium).

So who do you think will crack the end zone for the first time Saturday?

Isi Sofele?

Keenan Allen?

C.J. Anderson?

Someone from Nevada?

Let me know, and I’ll tally up your votes.





Football: Still not a sellout, but getting closer

We got this sort of vague answer Wednesday from Cal when we inquired about ticket sales for Saturday’s Memorial Stadium re-opening vs. Nevada: The ticket office reports having sold in the “high 50,000s” for the game, and expects a sellout.

Not sure why the numbers aren’t a bit more precise, but you have to imagine they’ll get there if they’re only 5,000 or 6,000 away from a full house.

Even three empty seats would be a little embarrassing considering the builup, the historic nature of the occasion, the expected delightful weather, etc.

Anyway, if you haven’t purchased a ticket and want to attend, probably need to get to it.



Football: ESPN ranks Bears’ schedule as 10th toughest in the country; Notre Dame is No. 1

ESPN.com gives Cal’s schedule a nod as the 10th-toughest in the land. But the Bears have just the second-most challenging schedule among teams in the Pac-12, with Washington checking in at No. 3 on the list.

Notre Dame, whose schedule includes road games against Michigan State, Oklahoma and USC, home games against Michigan and Stanford, and a matchup vs. Miami at Chicago’s Soldier Field, sits atop the list. Yeah, no kidding.

Elsewhere . . .

 — The Reno Gazette-Journal profiles San Leandro High grad Lenny Jones, who will make his college debut as a starting defensive end for the Wolf  Pack at Cal on Saturday.

A billboard near the UCLA campus promoting USC quarterback Matt Barkley was stripped or blacked out — and no one is taking responsibility for it.


Football: Cecil Whiteside academically ineligible

Cal sophomore outside linebacker Cecil Whiteside has been ruled academically ineligible and will not play the 2012 season.

Whiteside previously was dismissed from the team by coach Jeff Tedford on May 24 for unspecified violation of team rules, then reinstated before the start of fall camp. Tedford said Tuesday that Whiteside was academically ineligible after the spring semester, and he did not rectify that situation during summer school.

“Cecil really hasn’t been practicing with the first group at all,” Tedford said. “All the other guys have had an opportunity to play in there. Brennan Scarlett is doing a great job, Chris McCain . . . we feel good about those two guys in the outside.”

Whiteside was not on the Bears’ two-deep chart entering Saturday’s season opener at Memorial Stadium against Nevada.


Football season preview: Memorial Stadium raises expectations and Bears welcome the pressure

With the arrival of renovated Memorial Stadium comes pressure to win, and the Golden Bears say they are OK with that. Here’s my season preview story that will appear in Tuesday’s editions.

Here’s more to our season preview package: Predictions on how 2012 could unfold, a look inside the team at difference-makers and fresh faces, a glimpse of three key games on the Bears’ schedule, and facts and figures.


Football: Nevada’s woes in openers vs. BCS foes

If recent history is any indication, Nevada could have a rough time of it Saturday against Cal at Memorial Stadium.

According to a blog item from Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Wolfpack is 0-10 in season openers against teams from BCS conferences (plus Notre Dame), dating back to 1992, when it became an FBS team.

Nevada has lost those games by an average margin of 30.2 points, and its offense has produced a paltry 13.1 points per game in those outings. None of the 10 games was closer than 14 points.

The Wolfpack is 4-23 overall vs. BCS teams in its FBS era, although one of the four victories was a 52-31 rout of Cal (in a non-opening game) two seasons ago.

Here are scores from those 10 openers:

2011: Oregon, 69, Nevada 20
2009: Notre Dame 35, Nevada 0
2007: Nebraska 52, Nevada 10
2005: Washington 55, Nevada 21*
2002: Washington State 31, Nevada 7
2000: Oregon 36, Nevada 7
1999: Oregon State 28, Nevada 13*
1998: Oregon State 48, Nevada 6
1996: Oregon 44, Nevada 30
1993: Wisconsin 35, Nevada 17
* – indicates a home game



Football: Memorial Stadium one week from liftoff and the the word you’re looking for: Wow!

I got my third tour of Memorial Stadium today and I can confidently report to Cal fans: You’re gonna love it.

I first was taken through the facility in April, when the project was taking shape but had much left to do. Then in early July, I got another tour, which reflected substantial progress but still a long list of unfinished work.

On Friday, although not entirely finished, the place looked gorgeous.

Click here for a photo slide show courtesy of Anda Chu

The university’s objective was to take a facility that generations of Cal fans love, make it safe, modernize it, provide the small touches that give it style, yet maintain the character and feel of the 1923 structure.

They have succeeded.

There were few bad seats in the house in the past, and there are perhaps none now. By lowering the field four feet, those low-row seats no longer have their view blocked a curtain of 6-foot-5 football players wearing cleats and helmets along the sidelines.

Sad to report that those of you who enjoyed plucking splinters out of your backside after a game are out of luck. The old wooden bleachers are gone.

Those of you lucky (and wealthy) enough to have seats in the eighth-level presidents box on the west side of the stadium will enjoy spectacular views of the field while seated in perhaps the most comfortable chairs I have ever settled into. I considered spending the night.

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