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Football: Pac-12 media day leftovers

A few more items from Pac-12 media day on Wednesday in Hollywood . . .

In all my running around Paramount Studios, never managed to post results of the annual media poll on BearTalk. Of course, you probably didn’t expect Cal to finish on top, anyway.

In fact, the Bears were picked last in the Pac-12 North, collecting 41 total points. That means only two of the 39 voters picked Cal as high as fifth place. Everyone else has them finishing sixth again.

Oregon received 37 first-place votes to easily outdistance Stanford for the top spot in the North, followed by Washington, Oregon State and Washington State.

UCLA got 37 first-place votes to top USC in the South division, followed by Arizona State, Arizona. Utah and Colorado.

Twenty-four voters picked Oregon to win the Pac-12 title game, with 13 votes going to UCLA. One voter each picked Stanford and USC.

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Cal coach Sonny Dykes said senior Chris Adcock, who missed the final eight games last season with a knee injury, likely will regain his starting center spot. Adcock is expected to be eased into workouts, beginning Aug. 4, but Dykes said he should be ready to play the Aug. 30 opener at Northwestern.

That will allow junior Jordan Rigsbee, who finished last season at center, to shift to right tackle, where no one has stepped forward to secure the position.

If everything falls into place, here is Cal’s projected O-line: LT Steven Moore, LG Chris Borrayo, C Chris Adcock, RG Alejandro Crosthwaite, RT Jordan Rigsbee.

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Dykes said there is no word still on whether James Looney will be granted the waiver he has requested to be immediately eligible after transferring last spring from Wake Forest.

A sophomore defensive tackle, Looney would be an impact player for the Bears, Dykes said, if available.

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Looney’s presence would be doubly important because, as I reported last week, Dykes confirmed that sophomore DT Jacobi Hunter has left Cal. Hunter was married earlier this year and will play at a small school in his home state of Texas.

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Pac-12 media day: No DirecTV deal near

There likely will be no agreement between the Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV for the third straight football season, conference commissioner Larry Scott said.

“There is no latest, unfortunately. It looks very unlikely under the present ownership of DirecTV that they’re going to carry us,” Scott during Wednesday’s Pac-12 football media day at Paramount Studios.

AT&T announced in May its intention to purchase DirecTV in a $48.5-billion deal that is not yet finalized.

“I’m much more hopeful that when AT&T buys DirecTV we’ll have different kinds of discussions and outcomes,” Scott said.

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Pac-12 media day: Commissioner Larry Scott optimistic about future of college athletics

Two days after Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby outlined a grim future for college athletics, his Pac-12 counterpart painted a very different picture.

“While we’ve heard some doomsday and some threats over the last week, I am very confident and optimistic about where college sports is going,” Pac-12 commission Larry Scott said Wednesday during the league’s football media day at Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

Scott touted the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 for advancing an agenda intended to “bring college sports into the modern era.” He said he embraces proposed reforms that include promoting student-athlete health and welfare, integrating them more broadly into campus life and providing them greater financial support.”

Bowlsby, the former Stanford athletic director, warned that the NCAA’s enforcement staff is toothless to halt cheating and that “a strange environment” featuring lawsuits by former athletes threatens college sports.

He argued against unionization of college athletics and said paying athletes could spell the end of many Olympic-sport programs.

Scott doesn’t envision such a bleak horizon.

“We know there are some significant challenges out there, and we know it’s time to make significant changes,” he said. “Today requires that we do more for student-athletes who work so hard to find balance for their passions for their sport while still wanting to get an education.”

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Women’s basketball: Visit by Louisville highlights Bears’ challenging nonconference schedule

The Cal women’s basketball team announced its nonconference schedule on Wednesday, a challenging 11-game set that includes a rematch of the Bears’ 2013 Final Four game against Louisville.

The Cardinals, Elite Eight participants at 33-5 last season, will visit Haas Pavilion on Sunday, Dec. 21. Louisville beat Cal 64-57 in the Final Four at New Orleans two seasons ago.

“Each and every year, we want to bring one of the nation’s top teams into Haas Pavilion, where we have one of the most exciting college basketball atmospheres you can find,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We are thrilled that Jeff Walz and Louisville will be coming to town, and I know our fans will be ready for a ‘Final 4 rematch.’

“Most importantly, it’s a game that will garner national attention and allow our players to play on the biggest stage.”

The Bears’ regular season opener is Sunday, November 16 at Stockton against Pacific. The home opener will be Tuesday, November 18 against Nevada.

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Football: Cal-Northwestern kickoff time set

Cal’s season opener Aug. 30 at Northwestern has been set for a 12:30 p.m. PT kickoff. The game will be shown on ABC and ESPN2.

The Bears and Wildcats opened the 2013 season in Berkeley with the visitors from the Big Ten topping Cal 44-30 in coach Sonny Dykes’ debut.

Northwestern went on to a 4-0 start, then lost seven straight games — albeit two of them by three points and two others in overtime — on the way to a 5-7 season. They were 1-7 in conference play.

Northwestern is projected as a forth-place finisher in the Big Ten West Division by Athlon Sports magazine and tied for sixth by Lindy’s.

The game is the fourth on the Bears’ schedule whose game time has been set.

Cal’s home opener Sept. 6 against Sacramento State will go off at noon.

Cal’s Oct. 24 game against Oregon at Levi’s Stadium will kick off at 7 p.m., and the Nov. 13 game at USC has a 6 p.m. start.

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Basketball: Cornell forward provides one-year boost

Dwight Tarwater, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward from Cornell, has enrolled in grad school at Cal and will play one season for the Golden Bears. As a grad student, Tarwater will be immediately eligible.

Tarwater averaged 7.1 points and 5.5 rebounds last season while starting all 28 games for Cornell, so he won’t be a game-changer for the Bears. But, given their manpower issues up front, he may be just what they need for the one year he has to play.

The Bears had just nine healthy scholarship players entering the fall after a season-ending knee injury to sophomore center Kameron Rooks.

Tarwater joins senior starter David Kravish, junior reserve Christian Behrens and incoming freshman center Kingsley Okoroh as frontline players available to new coach Cuonzo Martin.

A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Tarwater was Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball for Class II-A in 2010. His uncle, Richmond Flowers, played for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in the NFL.

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Football: Ex-Cal star Marshawn Lynch encourages kids to ask for help and seek their own path

Marshawn Lynch’s white Lamborghini was parked well out of sight, but that was about the only thing the Seattle Seahawks running back and former Cal star held back from two dozen young teens during a motivational speaking appearance Tuesday.

Lynch’s contract status never was a topic of discussion, nor was his decision to skip the Super Bowl champions’ visit to the White House in May.

Lynch and fellow Oakland Tech High grad Josh Johnson, a backup quarterback with the 49ers, sat under the trees on a sunny day outside Pleasanton and encouraged East Bay youngsters to ask for help and seek their own path.

Dressed in a black “Beast Mode” sweat outfit, Lynch, 28, talked comfortably about his own childhood in Oakland, where he could have permanently taken a wrong turn. He explained how he went to Piedmont to steal bicycles and shoplifted from grocery stores as a grammar-school kid.

“I was doing bad things,” he said.

Then things got serious.

“The people I was out there doing bad stuff with, they started dropping off,” Lynch said.

After attending a funeral for a neighborhood friend slain at the age of seven, Lynch told himself, “I don’t want that to be me.”

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Basketball: Bird tests himself at Durant camp

Cal sophomore wing Jabari Bird got the chance to play against some of the nation’s top wing players and measure his talents against the NBA’s MVP at the recent Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington D.C.

“Overall, it was a great experience,” Bird said. “I got the opportunity to play against some of the top college players in the country and really got after it. I felt like I represented the University of California well with the best of my ability.”

Bird and 14 other top college wing players spent three days in D.C. learning techniques from Durant and participating in drills that focused on ball handling, spot shooting and fast breaks among other skill work. The sessions also included one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three full-court competitions.

At the end of each session, participants played a game with a squad selected by Durant that also included the Oklahoma City Thunder star.

“It was fun to play against the MVP himself,” Bird said. “He was really competitive. He wasn’t taking it easy on us because we were in college. He was real tough to guard.”

Bird, who averaged 8.3 points for Cal as a freshman last season, said Durant had plenty of useful advice to share. “He explained how we all have a lot of potential and that many of us could be playing with him in the NBA one day. “That was very inspiring to hear from the MVP himself.

“I need to continue to get strong, continue to work on my shot, my handle, and my defensive intensity,” Bird said. “I came away with a lot of confidence in my overall game, but I also know I need to get better for my sophomore year.”

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Football: Cal legend Joe Roth’s courageous story traced in new documentary — `Don’t Quit’

Former Cal football coach Mike White called it, “the biggest secret in the history of college athletics.”

Even White didn’t know during the fall of 1976 that Joe Roth, his All-America quarterback, was playing out his senior season while battling an aggressive strain of malignant melanoma. By February 1977, just 21 years old, Roth was dead.

Roth’s remarkable tale — the way he lived and the way he died — unfolds in “Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story,” a documentary film five years in the making by Cal grads Phil Schaaf and Bob Rider.

The 85-minute film, which made its debut in April at the Newport Film Festival, had its first Bay Area showing Wednesday night in front of about 300 Cal fans at Memorial Stadium.

The home crowd — including his former coach and a handful of ex-teammates — watched as Roth arrived in Berkeley from Grossmont junior college, became almost an overnight star who won friends with his low-key charm, then silently labored through his final painful months.

“In the end it has nothing to do with the sport,” Schaaf said. “Instead, it’s about humam elegance in the face of unfathomable adversity. In Joe’s case, it’s against this backdrop of athletic greatness.”

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Football: Bears land 4-star quarterback

The Bears missed out on two Bay Area prospects they were pursuing, but landed a verbal commit Tuesday from quarterback Ross Bowers of Bothell, Washington.

Cal whiffed on four-star cornerback/athlete Isaiah Langley of Foothill-Pleasanton, who chose USC, and three-star athlete Stephen Johnson of San Leandro, who said he will attend UCLA.

All three players made their announcements at The Opening, a prestigious camp held at Nike headquarters in Oregon.

The 6-foot-1, Bowers, rated as a four-star quarterback. by espn.com, is a pro-style quarterback according to rivals.com. He chose Cal over Colorado State, the school he was favoring until recently.

“I’ve always considered myself the underdog,” he said on ESPNU. “That’s how I work out, that’s how I train.”

Scout.com rates Bowers as a three-star player and the No. 58 QB prospect in the country. Rivals also rates him as a three-star prospect.

Bowers, whose father coaches at James Madison University, visited the Berkeley campus a couple weeks ago and was taken by Cal’s coaching staff and sophomore quarterback Jared Goff.

“I got to talk with (Jared Goff) on my visit and I realized he’s such a good dude and definitely be a guy I can look up to and definitely help me on my way,” Bowers said. “Being under him coming in as a freshman and trying to learn and soak up as much as I can from him. He’s a great guy and just try to be the best I can be in that program.”