Football: Chris Petersen’s college mentor says timing could be right for Cal to lure Boise coach

While ex-Raiders coach Hue Jackson labeled the vacancy at Cal “a golden opportunity” on Tuesday, UC Davis coaching legend Jim Sochor believes the timing could be right for the Golden Bears to lure Chris Petersen from Boise State.

Sochor, who coached Petersen at Davis and gave him his first coaching job, said the changing landscape at Boise could be a factor that tempts Petersen to make a move after years of resisting big offers.

“A lot of changes have taken place there,” said Sochor, referring to the Broncos’ scheduled move to the Big East Conference in 2014 and the arrival of a new athletic director last year. “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he’s had maybe some change of heart. At some point I do believe he will go elsewhere.”

Sochor hopes that place is Cal.

“He’d be great at Cal. He has all the requisites that Cal would be looking,” Sochor said. “He’s a great football coach and really good person and good ambassador.

“He would be one of the best people they have brought on board ever.”

Click here to read the rest of my story.


Basketball: X-rays show no damage with Kreklow

Sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow, who missed all three games in the DirecTV Classic last week in Anaheim after feeling pain in his surgically repaired right foot, showed no structural damage in X-rays.

Still, Kreklow is listed as doubtful to play Sunday when the Bears (6-0) visit Wisconsin (4-2).

This is good news for the Bears, who survived using a seven-man rotation last week. Kreklow was projected as a starter before the season and showed glimpses of good potential in two games he played before the Anaheim trip.

The Bears need him healthy for the long run, so this is a smart, cautious move.


Football: Even without a coach, Bears get commitment from significant recruit

One week after firing Jeff Tedford, Cal got an oral commitment Tuesday from Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks standout Khalfani Muhammad, according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Rivals rates him as a four-star prospect, Scout gives him three stars.

Running backs coach Ron Gould is getting credit for landing Muhammad, who rushed for 1,420 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior last fall.

Muhammad is an undersized prospect who is listed as an “athlete” by Rivals, a running back by Scout. The former puts him at 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, the latter at 5-7, 160. Either way, he’s not big. But he runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and competes in track and field.

Muhammad had offers from a variety of schools, including Pac-12 rivals Washington, UCLA, Oregon State and Utah.


Football: Ex-Cal star DeSean Jackson out for year

Former Cal star wideout DeSean Jackson was placed on injured reserve with fractured ribs on Tuesday, ending his season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Given the sorry state of the team, a long rest might be welcome.

From 2005 through ’07, Jackson caught 162 passes for 2,423 yards and 22 touchdowns at Cal. In five NFL seasons, all with the Eagles, Jackson has caught 275 passes for 4,796 yards and 23 TDs. He also has returned four punts for touchdowns.


Basketball: Bears prep for tough 3-game stretch

Now 6-0 for the first time in five seasons under coach Mike Montgomery, the Cal basketball team is about to find out how good it can be.

Here’s the stretch of games directly in front of the Bears:

— Sunday: At Wisconsin

— Dec. 9: vs. UNLV

— Dec. 15: vs. Creighton

Those three teams have a combined record of 13-3, and that includes Creighton beating Wisconsin.

Looks to me like each succcessive game will be tougher than the one before, but Wisconsin on the road will be plenty challenging enough. Creighton (6-0) likely will be 10-0 by the time it visits, and features preseason national player of the year candidate Doug McDermott (21.0 ppg).

There was no update Monday on the status of Cal sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow, who sat out the three games in Anaheim after feeling a twinge in his foot during warmups before the Drake game. The Bears are playing it safe with Kreklow, as they should, because they want him healthy when the Pac-12 schedule begins in January.

Montgomery used a seven-man rotation at the DirecTV Classic, and the Bears got by. But Drake, Georgia Tech and Pacific don’t stand up to Cal’s next three opponents or Pac-12 level competition.

Continue Reading


Football: Is Boise State’s Chris Petersen leaving the door open? Depends what you want to hear

Boise State’s Chris Petersen, the subject of constant coaching job talk, addressed the latest round of rumors Monday during his weekly press conference with local media.

The 20th-ranked Broncos (9-2) close their regular season Saturday against Nevada.

Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman, here is what Petersen had to say related to the coaching rumors, late in his weekly address:

“Twenty-two minutes,” he said, looking at his watch. “That’s better than I thought.”

Asked if it was a distraction, he said, “It is not even kind of. It’s just rumors. That’s all I want really to say about this and I say it every year. It’s just rumors. I don’t even think half the time it’s reporters. Everybody’s a reporter these days. Everybody’s got an opinion on a blog, so they throw it out and oh, it’s going to happen.”

Petersen referenced the Mississippi State rumors from a few years ago, when a television station was reporting the details of his new contract with the Bulldogs.

“It was so far from false. It is what it is, you guys love it. I know it’s great and it sells whatever. It means zero here. We don’t even pay attention to it.”

Asked if there was a downside to his name being mentioned all the time, Petersen said, “The only trouble is in recruiting — 99.9 percent is always completely false, the problem is .1. But there hasn’t even been .1.”

Cal fans will cling to that .1 percent — and perhaps they should. Petersen is as good a candidate as the Bears could covet.

But he’s said no to UCLA and Stanford in recent years, and he won’t be an easy sell. Can Sandy Barbour turn those long-shot odds into something real?

Stay tuned.



Football: Spartans’ MacIntyre says no contact from Cal so far; Hue Jackson sounds interested

Here are some updates on the Cal coaching search:

— San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre, who has guided the Spartans to a 10-2 record, told beat writer Jimmy Durkin from our staff that he has not been offered a job by Kentucky and has had no contact with Cal. I covered the Spartans in 2011 and I know MacIntyre a little bit, so I believe him. I’ll also tell you this: It’s early in the process. Don’t scratch him from your list yet.

— BANG columnist Monte Poole talked briefly Sunday with Hue Jackson, currently DBs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, who told him he had not heard from Cal, but hopes he does. In other words, he sounds interested. Jackson, who coached the Raiders to an 8-8 record last season (sounds pretty good about now), spent the 1996 season as offensive coordinator at Cal. The belief is that money isn’t as much the issue as Jackson’s determination to get another head coaching job — either in the NFL or in college. I’m waiting to hear back from Jackson’s agent.

— Western Kentucky’s Willie Taggart, a former assistant at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh, said he has had no contact at this point from any school, presumably including Cal. During his Monday weekly press briefing he said, “We’re grinding. We’re out recruiting. I work for WKU — that’s what this is all about.” The Hilltoppers are 7-5 and awaiting a long-shot bowl bid. They are 14-10 the past two seasons under Taggart. 

— Vanderbilt coach James Franklin does not appear to be a viable candidate. I spoke with  beat reporter Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean, who told me that he believes Franklin is happy at Vandy and about to get a new contract. The Commodores are 8-4 and riding a six-game win streak. Already, Franklin earns close to $3 million a year (an unofficial estimate because Vandy does not release contract figures) on a seven-year deal. The school is building an indoor practice facility and has nearly tripled Franklin’s recruiting budget, to the point that he’s able to fly into high school games via helicopter. He turned away inquiries from N.C. State and isn’t considered a candidate at Kentucky, because Vandy is now a better job.


Football: Schwenke, D’Amato all-Pac-12

Cal’s 3-9 season earned the Golden Bears just two spots on the all-Pac-12 first team, chosen by the coaches and announced Monday.

Center Brian Schwenke and placekicker Vincenzo D’Amato landed first-team spots. Cal had no one on the team team.

Schwenke exceled on an erratic Cal offensive line after being moved from guard to center. D’Amato struggled early as replacement for Giorgio Tavecchio, then finished as the conference leader with 16 field goals (in 23 tries).

USC wideout Marqise Lee won Offensive Player of the Year honors and Arizona State defensive end Will Sutton was Defensive Player of the Year.

A couple of preseason sure things — USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Cal WR Keenan Allen — were relegated to honorable mention status.

Here are Cal’s other HM picks: RS Brendan Bigelow, So.; DB Josh Hill, Sr.; LB Chris McCain, So; ST Avery Sebastian, So.; DB Steve Williams, Jr.

Click here to view the entire all-Pac-12 team.