Academics: Bears’ football grad rates decline, basketball showing improvement

Bad news off the field for Cal coach Jeff Tedford’s football program.

The NCAA on Thursday released numbers on graduation rate among athletes at its member schools, and Cal’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 48 percent among students who entered school during the four-year period from 2002-05 was worst in the Pac-12 Conference.

Graduation rates are based on a six-year window following enrollment.

Cal’s Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) is 47 percent. The FGR differs from the GSR in that it does not give credit for incoming transfers who graduate and it penalizes schools for athletes who transfer to another school (or turn pro). GSR does not penalize schools for outgoing transfers, as long as they are in academic good standing when they depart.

Cal released this statement with a reaction from Tedford:

“This score is clearly unacceptable. While there is little a college coach can do to prevent players from entering the draft for professional leagues, we have an obligation and responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure our student-athletes succeed academically. We have many student-athletes who want to pursue NFL dreams, but it is essential that we emphasize the importance of them graduating in a timely fashion.

“I have made it absolutely clear to our coaches, players and staff that we must reverse this trend. In recent months, we have taken concerted action to improve the support provided through our Academic Game Plan and will continue to make sure this is a top priority in our program. We all share the responsibility to meet Cal’s academic standards.”

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Football: OSU’s Mannion to start vs. Huskies

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion (Foothill HS-Pleasanton) is scheduled to start on Saturday against Washington, less than three weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee.

The unbeaten and seventh-ranked Beavers (6-0) won twice behind backup Cody Vaz in Mannion’s absence, beating BYU on the road and Utah at home. But Mannion was averaging 339.5 passing yards per game before he was injured.

In other news . . .

Oregon and Ohio State have agreed to play a home-and-home, beginning in 2020.


Football: Rehashing Big Game defeat to Stanford not high on Tedford’s Tuesday agenda

Cal coach Jeff Tedford was all about looking forward to Utah during his weekly address to the media on Tuesday morning.

Talking about the Stanford loss was not what he had in mind.

But the Bears’ offensive woes in their 21-3 loss were an unavoidable topic. Here’s my Cal notebook.


    Here’s a synopsis of Cal’s red-zone play in their five defeats this season:

— Nevada: Cal had two RZ opportunities, cashing in one for a touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Zach Maynard to Chris Harper. The other one featured a 3-yard loss on a run and a 7-yard loss on a sack and yielded a missed field goal. Total in RZ: 4 plays, 3 yards, 7 points.

— Ohio State: Cal’s most efficient RZ performance among its five defeats. The Bears converted two of three chances for TDs, one on a 19-yard pass from Maynarad to Harper, the other on a 1-yard run by Maynard. A personal foul and holding penalty on the third possession led to a missed field goal. Total in RZ: 8 plays, 49 yards, 25 yards in penalties, 14 points.

— USC: Cal had five RZ opportunities, managing just three field goals by Vincenzo D’Amato. The Bears were 2 for 7 passing (one of those INC passes by running back C.J. Anderson) for 2 yards with an interception, and had seven rushes for 6 yards, including a sack. Total in RZ: 14 plays, 8 yards, 9 points.

— Arizona State: The Bears cracked the ASU 20-yard line just twice, getting a field goal and a touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Maynard to Keenan Allen. Total in RZ: 2 plays, 11 yards, 10 points.

— Stanford: Cal reached the RZ twice in the Big Game, emerging with just a field goal. The other drive ended with an interception. Total in RZ: 7 plays, minus-3 yards, 3 points.



Basketball: No timeline on UCLA freshmen

As college basketball teams begin their second full week of practice, there’s still no timetable on when UCLA’s vaunted freshmen, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, might get an eligibility answer from the NCAA.

The two are considered so good — both potential one-and-done prospects — that their availability will be the difference in whether the Bruins are perhaps Pac-12 favorites or a middle-of-the-pack squad.

Here’s the latest from the Los Angeles Times.


Women’s basketball: Bears picked 2nd in Pac-12

 Oh sure, the Giants are playing for a spot in the World Series.

The final presidential debate is set to begin.

Hey, we’ve got results of the Pac-12 women’s basketball coaches poll.

Twelve-time conference champion Stanford was picked to win the league for the 12th straight season. No surprise there.

Cal checks in second, including a first-place vote from Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who is not permitted to vote for her own team.

Team (First Place) Points
1. Stanford (11) 121
2. California (1) 109
3. UCLA 100
4. USC 91
5. Arizona State 67
Oregon State 67
7. Utah 56
8. Washington 54
9. Colorado 49
10. Washington State 40
11. Oregon 20
12. Arizona 18


Football: Oregon scores 43 points in 18+ minutes vs. ASU, then falls to No. 4 in BCS computer

What do you imagine Oregon feels like it has to do Saturday against Colorado to impress the BCS computer after the Ducks fell from No. 3 to 4 in this week’s ratings?

How about a 70-0 win?

Think that’s far-fetched? The system has basically encouraged them to do just that.

All Oregon did this past week was roll up a 43-7 lead over Arizona State barely 3 1/2 minutes into the second quarter. Yet, the Ducks fell behind Kansas State in the latest BCS rankings, after the Wildcats routed West Virginia.

It was really no problem for the Ducks when Alabama and Florida both debuted ahead of Oregon in the BCS rankings because one of the two SEC schools eventually has to lose. Now there’s another variable involved. Now Oregon’s path to the national championship game is more complicated.

Of course, all this could have been avoided except that K-State backed out of a once-scheduled game this season against Oregon.

Here’s Oregon’s remaining regular-season schedule: vs. Colorado, at USC, at Cal, vs. Stanford, at Oregon State.

Here’s K-State’s remaining regular-season schedule: vs. Texas Tech, vs. Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, vs. Texas.


Football: Trying to weather a stormy season

Coach Jeff Tedford met with five reporters Sunday afternoon, as he always does. He was not a happy coach, but hardly resigned to more of what we all watched Saturday when the Bears lost 21-3 to Stanford in the 115th Big Game.

“We lost a tough game,” he said. “The only way we persevere through it is by preparation and the motivation to get better individually and collectively.”

Asked if he was unprepared to have his running game so totally shut down after two productive games, Tedford said, “I was surprised that we couldn’t run the ball better. We got beat. We got beat. They outplayed us. I don’t think we ever made a gain over 4 yards.”

Not the running backs, anyway.

So this was a case of one team being physically superior to the other?

 “From time to time, yeah,” he acknowledged.

Still, Tedford expressed confidence that the Bears (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12) will rebound from the loss when it takes the field Saturday at Utah (2-5, 0-4).

“I would be naive to say we didn’t talk about it. I wanted to make sure I’m not acting like my head is buried in the sand. We need to talk about it,” he said.  “The team was very attentive in the meeting. A lot of head nodding, a lot of focus and eyes.

“We’ve been through a lot this year and team has done a good job of maintaining their focus and work ethic and togetherness. I wouldn’t expect any differently this week.”

I asked Tedford how he deals with the criticism, especially on Twitter and social media, where the remarks of fans and detractors can be directed at him personally.

For now, he chooses to stay away from all that, except as it pertains to recruiting.

“Besides that, I’m not really interested,” he said. “I’m sure there’s critics. I’m absolutely positive there’s critics. That doesn’t motivate me, it doesn’t do anything for me at all.

“Not that I don’t care because I do. I care a lot, and maybe too much. Those type of things, I don’t want to spend time thinking about. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how mentally tough you think you are, if you read things like that, you’re going to spend a couple minutes thinking about it. And I don’t want to do that.

“I don’t want the distraction. I want to focus on our team, and that’s to prepare the team and motivate the team and the staff. I can’t control those other things, so I’m not going to get caught up in them.”




Football: Sunday injury update

Coach Jeff Tedford hopes most of his ailing players will be back on the field Saturday when Cal visits Utah.

Linebackers Brennan Scarlett (broken left hand) and Jalen Jefferson (concussion) both sat out the Bears’ 21-3 loss to Stanford in the 115th Big Game after sustaining injuries the week before at Washington State. Scarlett had surgery on his hand Wednesday after suffering his second break this fall.

“I would expect he could possibly be back this week,” Tedford said of Scarlett.

Tedford said Jefferson was making progress by the end of last week, but needs to be cleared by the training staff and pass a concussion test.

Linebacker Chris McCain, who was wearing a boot Sunday on his sprained left ankle, should be fine, Tedford said. Same for defensive lineman Viliami Moala (left foot).

Running back C.J. Anderson entered the Stanford game with a banged up left knee, then suffered a left shoulder sprain when Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov nailed him on a goal-line play. He said he expects to be ready for the Utes.

Coming off back-to-back 100-yard games entering Stanfor, admitted the knee injury left him feeling “a little timid” at the start of the game.

“After that I just had a quick talk with coach G (Ron Gould) and just sat down with myself and said, `It’s going to hold up.’ I just cleared my mind and tried to play the best I could.”

Then he took the shot from Skov.

“The shoulder thing happened before when I was at the juco. I’ve always played on it. It’s going to nag me.

“I’m feeling a little bit better,” he said. “I’m always ready play. Playing through injuries is something I can do.”


Swimming: Cal gets commit from Olympic star

Turns out Saturday wasn’t a total loss for Cal.

Olympic swim star Missy Franklin, who won five medals at the London Games, has committed to attend Cal next fall.

The U.S. women’s team was coached by Cal coach Teri McKeever, and the connection obviously paid off for the Bears.

Here’s the story, including details of Cal’s water polo win over Stanford in the Big Splash.