Football: Bartkowski enjoys Hall induction

Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski was inducted Wednesday night into the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, where he starred with the NFL’s Falcons.

“None of us played the game of college football thinking that we would be in the College Football Hall of Fame,” Bartkowski said. “It’s the icing on the cake. None of us could have done it on our own, so to our teammates, we say thanks… It’s an incredible honor and we are humbled by it.”

One of the great pure passers in Cal history, Bartkowski led the nation with 2,580 yards as a senior in 1974, when he was team MVP and a consensus All-America selection.

In 1975, he was the first and only Cal player selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, taken by the Falcons.


Swimming: Olympic star Missy Franklin ready to start classes, enjoying `totally crazy’ Berkeley

Olympic swim star Missy Franklin, perhaps the most decorated athlete ever to enroll at Cal, begins classes on Thursday.

On Wednesday she met the Bay Area media and talked about adjusting to life in Berkeley.

Click here to read staff writer Elliott Almond’s story.

Need a reminder of what Franklin already has achieved in the pool: Here are all the facts you need.


Football: Give me your predictions on Cal season

We’re in the final countdown to Saturday’s season opener and I want to hear from all of you on how you expect Sonny Dykes’ first season to unfold.

You’ve probably read my projections — a 6-6 season would be a remarkable achievement, given all the changes, the youth and the schedule.

But I’m not assuming everyone views this the same as I do, so here’s your chance to chime in:


Cal will . . .

1) beat Northwestern in Saturday’s opener

2) average at least 35 points this season

3) score at least 50 points in one game (not counting Portland State)

4) be held without an offensive touchdown in a game this season

5) change quarterbacks before season’s end for a reason other than injury

6) beat USC in Berkeley

7) beat Stanford on the road

8) win four games or fewer

9) win eight games or more

10) play in a bowl game

Send me your answers by Saturday morning and I’ll compile the results before kickoff that night.


Football: Dykes says WR Harper will play opener

The Bears held their second-to-last practice before Saturday’s season opener without starting receiver Chris Harper, who injured his left shoulder at practice the day before.

But coach Sonny Dykes said he expects the sophomore to practice Thursday and be ready to face No. 22 Northwestern. “We expect him to play Saturday,” Dykes said. “He basically sprained his shoulder.”


Kenny Lawler gets some love from Heisman Pundit


Elsewhere on the injury front:

— Defensive end Brennan Scarlett (hand) spent his second consecutive day without a red jersey. But Scarlett did very little in practice and still has not been cleared to play. Even so, Dykes said, “We’ll know tomorrow for sure.” Asked if Scarlett might still be able to play Saturday, Dykes said, “Maybe. There’s a chance.” Still, seemingly a long shot.

— Linebacker Nick Forbes (back) still isn’t practicing and won’t play Saturday.

— Strong safety Avery Sebastian, now 16 days removed from his concussion, practiced and should play Saturday. “I would expect him to start and play and be like anybody else,” Dykes said.


Wednesday’s practice was “a little sloppy,” but Dykes didn’t seem concerned or surprised.

Continue Reading


Football: Cal preview package

Here’s my package of stories previewing Cal’s season:

— The Bears are in a hurry to pop the lid on the Sonny Dykes era.

Cal notebook:  Ted Albrecht recalls ex-teammate Chuck Muncie.

Just the facts: Everything else you need to know.

— A position by position breakdown of the Bears’ roster.

— A week by week look at Cal’s schedule.

— Bonus: Columnist Mark Purdy’s look back at Pappy Waldorf.

That oughta keep you busy for a while.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.



Football: Dykes says MLB Forbes doubtful; Sebastian in pads, Scarlett still on hold

Middle linebacker Nick Forbes, struggling with a back injury for the past two weeks, is not likely to play in the Bears’ opener Saturday against No. 22 Northwestern.

“He feels good some days, doesn’t feel good other days,” coach Sonny Dykes said after Monday night’s practice in which Forbes did not participate. “I would expect him probably not to play, quite frankly.

“We’ll see how it plays out. He’s going to be more than likely doubtful.”

If Forbes cannot go, redshirt freshman Hardy Nickerson Jr. will make his debut.

The news was somewhat better regarding starting strong safety Avery Sebastian, who practiced in pads for the first time since sustaining a concussion during a scrimmage two weeks earlier.

“He was moving fine, told me he felt great, and looking forward to him having a good week of practice,” Dykes said. “We’re going to continue to progress him. He’s full contact right now. I would expect him to play.”

Sebastian confirmed that he felt great, but couldn’t commit that he will be ready to play Saturday.

Talking about the importance of rehabbing the injury thoroughly, Sebastian said, “Missing one game is not really going to mean anything. I have a whole life after football.”

Told that Dykes believes he might play, Sebastian added, “Right now it’s really on me and how I feel throughout this week. That’s why they’re letting me do more and more each day. I’m just going to see how I feel and we’ll go from there.”

As usual, there was no real news on the status of defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who continued to be on the field but wearing a no-contact red jersey. Dykes said Scarlett, who broke his left hand twice last season, still is awaiting clearance from his doctor, whom he will see once more this week.

Dykes characterized Scarlett’s chances of playing as being better than Forbes, but said he won’t even be able to play with his hand heavily wrapped like a club until he gets medical approval.

“It’s the same old deal, we want him to get healthy,” Dykes said. “He could go out there and play with a club and risk injury and be ineffective or we could try to get him healthy.”


Football: Cal gets commit from Texas DB

Cal got a commitment Monday from cornerback Jeremy Winchester of Klein Collins HS in Spring, Texas, according to Scout.com.

The 6-foot, 170-pounder is unrated by Scout but ranked as a 2-star prospect by Rivals.com.

Winchester is the Bears’ 11th commitment to the class of 2014, the third specifically designated as a defensive back.


Football: Cal, BYU to start home and home in ’14

Cal announced a home-and-home football series against BYU, beginning with a Nov. 29 matchup two days after Thanksgiving in Berkeley next season.

The Bears then will visit the Cougars in Provo, Utah, on Sept. 16, 2017.

Cal’s complete nonconference schedule for 2014 is set: at Northwestern on Aug. 30, vs. Sacramento State on Sept. 6 and vs. BYU on Nov. 29.

The Bears and Cougars have met three times, with BYU holding a 2-1 series edge. Cal won the most recent matchup, 35-28 in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl. Running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns to earn game MVP honors.


Football: Mixon includes Cal among final 5

Courtesy of Phil Jensen on our staff . . .

Freedom High running back Joe Mixon, one of the most recruited East Bay high school football players ever, announced his top five schools on Twitter Monday afternoon.

On his Twitter account, Mixon said the list was in no particular order, then he said Florida, Cal, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Oregon.

The schools from his top 10 list that missed the cut were Tennessee, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Oregon State and Washington.

On Aug. 21, Mixon announced on Twitter that he had canceled a scheduled official visit to Texas A & M and will be taking an official visit to Cal for the Bears’ home game against No. 2 Ohio State.

Mixon narrowed his choices from 50 to 10 on Aug. 2. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has a five-star (out of a possible five) ranking by Rivals.com. He is ranked as the No. 3 running back in the nation and the top running back in the state in the Rivals100. He is also the No. 10 overall prospect in that ranking.

In the 2012 season, Mixon had 201 carries for 1,443 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 383 yards and seven touchdowns.


Football: Fitzgerald calls Cal `great challenge’

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said he will have no trouble motivating his 22nd ranked Wildcats for Saturday night’s season opener at Cal.

“I’m thankful that we’ve got a great opponent, thankful that we’ve got a great challenge. All these things make it very easy to movitate our football team,” Fitzgerald said Monday at his weekly news conference.

“It’s a huge challenge for us, probably one of the biggest challenges (this week) of any top-25 team. We’re going to know more about our football team probably than any other team in the Big Ten after the first week.”

Former Cal All-America offensive tackle Ted Albrecht, beginning his 20th season as radio analyst for Northwestern, said there is “no way” the Wildcats look past a Cal team that was 3-9 last season.

“That’s not the way they perceive Cal at all,”  Albrecht told me this morning. “They know they’ve got some speed and that Cal’s trying to find some rhythm early in the season to get some confidence. Once you have success it becomes confidence.”

In preparation for the two-hour time zone difference and 7:30 p.m. PDT kickoff, Northwestern is starting practices this week at 9:30 p.m. CDT.

“The big talk at the news conference today was about the 7:30 kickoff, which on our clocks is 9:30,”  said Albrecht, who explained that experts on campus are working with players to adjust their sleep patterns. “They don’t want the players to go to sleep until at least midnight. Everything is pretty scientific.”