Basketball: Imagine, a break from football

 In the wake of their first defeat of the season — an 81-56 thrashing at the hands of host Wisconsin — coach Mike Montgomery is expecting more from his team.

Not just Sunday, when the Bears face No. 21 UNLV at Haas Pavilion.

But all week in practice.

“It’s one game,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve got some underlying issues weve got to solve. We’ve got to play harder in practice. We’ve got hold ourselves accountable. We’ve got to want to try to improve and find ways to do that.

“We didn’t have a good week of practice. Guys didn’t push themselves. I knew that we were going to be in for it there.”

Wisconsin has lost just 16 games at home since the start of the 2001-02 season, and Montgomery understands that winning in Madison was going to be difficult under any circumstances.

“We go back to Wisconsin at our best, doesn’t mean we’re going to win there,” he said. “There were 17,000 people there. Then the (Big Ten champion) football team showed up — that changed the energy level in the building a little bit.”

The game started poorly for the Bears, then got worse.

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Football: What they’re saying about Dykes

What others are saying about Cal’s hiring of Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes:

“Cal landed a great coach in Sonny Dykes. He has always been on the cutting edge offensively and is now a proven head coach. They are lucky to have him.” — Texas head coach Mack Brown

“He’s outstanding … and he’s got a great offensive mind. He knows how to go out and put points on the board. With his pedigree and his background, I think he would be an outstanding coach no matter where he is.” — ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit

“Sonny Dykes is an absolute home run hire for Cal and the Pac-12. I spent 25 years in that league as an AD and he is as prepared as anybody I have seen. Congratulations to Sandy Barbour and the entire Cal administration. He is a great coach, a great person and a phenomenal recruiter. This is as good a hire as you will see in college football this year.” — Jim Livengood, former Arizona AD and current AD at UNLV

“If you have not seen or read Sonny Dykes’ name by now, it might be time for familiarization. Dykes is quickly becoming one of the more buzzed-about names for open or soon-to-be-open coaching jobs. Yes, the college football hot stove season has arrived. I’d venture to say that Dykes is the No. 1 name to watch in this cycle of the carousel.” — Travis Haney, ESPN.com


Football: Cal makes it official — Dykes

As expected, Cal made an official announcement Wednesday evening that it has hired Sonny Dykes as football coach.

Cal will introduce Dykes at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

“Sonny Dykes is one of the brightest offensive minds in the country, running a high-octane style of football, one that I’m certain will allow our student-athletes to thrive and that our community will love on gameday,” Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said.

“However, it was far more than his history of a top-ranked offense and his proven success on the football field that solidified my decision; it was the way he described his responsibility to the university at large and his commitment to creating a climate of comprehensive excellence and success for his student-athletes.

“We discussed the unique place that Berkeley and Cal Athletics occupy in higher education, standing for both academic and athletic excellence. Above all, Sonny values the opportunity to develop relationships with and have an impact on his student-athletes, staff and community.”

Dykes, whose Louisiana Tech team led the nation in scoring this season, said,  “I’m looking forward to bringing our exciting and enthusiastic brand of football to Berkeley. Our objectives are numerous. In addition to winning football games, we will strive to develop the total student-athlete in the classroom, on the field of play and in the campus and local communities. We want a win-everywhere mentality.”

Here is Cal’s news release: http://www.calbears.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120512aaj.html

Click here for my story.


Football: Sonny Dykes lands the job


Just hours ago, Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour told me, “We’re real close. Real close”

Barbour got her man Wednesday, with the news that Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes will be hired as Cal’s new football coach.

A source very close to Dykes confirmed to me he is coming to Cal.

“I did talk to him and he did confirm to me he was going to take the job,” the source said in a phone interview. “The reports are correct.”
Asked about Dykes’ demeanor just before going into a meeting with his players, the source said, “He seemed a little conflicted, but I think he’s excited. This place will be dear to him because it was his first head coaching job. One of his children was born here. I think (Cal) is going to get a real good coach.”
Click here for this developing story.

While Dykes operates a prolific offense that led the nation in scoring this season, a key for him will be assembling a strong defensive staff. La Tech was last in the nation in total defense this season.

There was no immediate player confirmation of the hire, and Cal officials were mum.

Cal defensive back Avery Sebastian tweeted, “Sonny dykes ok let’s ride.” But two other players said they hadn’t yet been told anything.

I talked with Cal associate head coach and running backs coach Ron Gould, who was in Los Angeles recruiting Wednesday, and he said he got the news from a couple coaches down there.

Gould had been told nothing officially about a new coach, but was instructed to cut his recruiting trip short and return to campus.


Football: Sandy Barbour — `We’re close’

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour returned my call a few minutes ago and said the wait is nearly over: “We’re getting real close,” she said of the search to replace football coach Jeff Tedford. “Real close.”

Via Twitter, from Football Scoop: “Sources tell us that Sonny Dykes will be named head coach at Cal.” Same source says announcement will come “within 24 hours.”

Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports tweeted earlier that Barbour told him she expected to have a coach hired by next week. She explained Feldman passed her in the hallway at an event Wednesday and asked, “Do you expect to have a coach by next week?”

She said yes.


Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.


Football: No surprise — Keenan Allen to NFL draft

A week after tweeting “Decision made!” Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen officially announced he intends to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Allen, projected as a high first-round draft choice, said he is grateful for his experience at Cal.
“I have always dreamed of having an opportunity to play in the NFL, and my time at Cal has helped me get to the point in my career where I believe I am ready to take that next step,” he said in a statement. “I am thankful for my experience at Cal and am excited about what the future holds.”
Allen is Cal’s career leader with 205 receptions. He ranks third in Cal history with 2,570 receiving yards and caught 17 touchdown passes.
Allen caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards as a sophomore in 2011. He had 61 catches for 737 yards and six TDs this season when he suffered a knee injury in Cal’s ninth game. The injury was not considered serious and is not expected to have an impact on his draft status.
Although Allen is one of the great wideouts in Cal history, the Bears should move forward easily without him. Wide receiver is one of the team’s deepest positions.
Back for their sophomore seasons will be: Chris Harper (41 receptions-544 yards-2 TDs), Bryce Treggs (21-216-1) and Darius Powe (12-134-1). Treggs missed Cal’s final three games with a nagging ankle sprain and Powe emerged late while he was sidelined.
Cal’s biggest position questions for next season are quarterback, offensive line and safety.
And, of course, head coach.
I’m assuming they will have one by then.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.


Football: Figuring out what is true

Day 22 of the Cal football coaching search and pieces of “information” are flying.


— Late morning, a website called OwlScoop — a Temple fan site — reported via Twitter that San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre will interview this week with the Philly school. Mac spent the 1997-98 seasons as an assistant coach at Temple.

— I called MacIntyre to ask him about our report Tuesday night that he had interviewed Friday with Cal, and he said he will not talk about jobs. He is headed to Washington D.C. today to participate in pre-Military Bowl events, but laughed at notion he’s talking with Temple — said he hasn’t spoken to anyone from there.

— Barely an hour later, Jon Wilner of our staff hears from a source at SJSU that MacIntyre no longer is involved with the Cal situation. Is that true? Probably. But maybe MacIntyre wants to cool the talk.  

— Contact in Boise says everything they hear is Chris Petersen is staying put. Well, imagine he is staying . . . at least until he isn’t.

— Early afternoon, Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports tweets he just talked to Sandy Barbour, who said she expects to have a coach in place by next week. Two questions: How and why is she talking to Bruce Feldman, when she isn’t talking to anyone else? And does “by next week” mean it won’t be until then or still could be anytime?

— I leave a message on Barbour’s voicemail. Hard to believe she didn’t return my call immediately. Right.

— Barbour calls back within an hour. “We’re getting real close,” she said. “Real close.” That doesn’t sound like next week to me.

— UPDATE: Talked to LaTech AD Bruce Van De Velde at 2:20 p.m., and he said, “I can’t comment on any coaching speculation.” Geez, he was plenty talkative on Monday. Makes me wonder: If Dykes were staying at LaTech, wouldn’t his boss be thrilled to tell everyone?


— Do we assume MacIntyre is out of the picture? Maybe, but I’m not 100 percent convinced.

— Is Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes the frontrunner? That may have been the case for several days now, but until the case is completely zipped closed on Chris Petersen, hard to consider anyone else the frontrunner. But we all know Petersen is — always has been — a very longshot.

— Is there someone else — a mystery candidate — that Barbour is quietly courting? I’m having reporter nightmares about that one.

Stay tuned.


Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.


Football: Ex-Cal great Steve Bartkowski inducted into National Football Foundation Hall of Fame

Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday during the NFF’s 55th Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

“This is an incredible honor, I’m overwhelmed by it,” Bartkowski said during a press conference  earlier Tuesday. “It’s an elite group of guys who played college athletics. I’m proud for my university, the University of California Berkeley … When an award like this comes along this late in life I think you have a tendency to appreciate it a lot more than if it happened five, six, eight, 10 years out of the game. I am thrilled to be here and amongst this elite group of athletes.”

Click here for more on Bartkowski’s big night.