Football: Dykes reaching out to Tedford

Among the resources new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes has tried to cultivate in his first eight months on the job is a relationship with his predecessor.

Dykes said during Monday’s Bay Area college football media day that he phoned ex-Cal coach Jeff Tedford about a week after he took the job in December, and intends to talk with him again during the upcoming season.

The purpose of the conversation, Dykes said, was “more just to let him know, `I know you recruited these guys and I’m going to do everything I can to put them in a situation to be successful,’ ” Dykes said. “Because he cares deeply about his players and wants them to do well.

“I wanted him to know I appreciated the job he did at Cal and appreciate the kind of players he recruited. We had a great conversation. Jeff was super, Jeff was awesome.

“He wants to see the players do well. He loves Cal and loves the players and wants to see everyone do well.”

Tedford, the winningest coach in Cal history, was fired after the Bears went 3-9 last season.

— Dykes said everything about the Bay Area so far has been “better than I anticipated,” and that even includes dealing with the media.

He joked during the well-attended local media day at a San Francisco hotel that he never got this level of attention while coaching at Louisiana Tech in rural Ruston, La.

“I was the only guy who covered my team,” Dykes said. “We had a beat writer who never came to practice. Literally never. He was a great guy, but he never came to practice the whole time I was there.

“I suppose this is a little different.”

— Senior offensive tackle Bill Tyndall, who broke an ankle during spring ball, should be ready for the Bears’ Aug. 31 opener vs. Northwestern, Dykes said.

A starter in five games last season, Tyndall is running and will practice on a limited basis at first when training camp begins next Monday, Dykes said.


Pac-12 media day: Bears’ tough opening stretch

First-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes said he’d like to eventually adopt an A-B-C system to nonconference scheduling.

The alphabet has been jumbled this season with a season-opening run of Northwestern, Portland State and Ohio State. That’s a three-week stretch involving two 10-win teams from the Big Ten Conference.

With a Pac-12 opener at Oregon looming, the Bears face the prospect of a 1-3 start if they don’t beat Northwestern in the Aug. 31 opener at Berkeley.

“You can’t really look at it that way, but realistically it’s got to be there in the back of your mind,” Dykes said Friday at Pac-12 media day at Sony Pictures Studios. “I’m sure when they scheduled Northwestern, they weren’t coming off a 10-win season.

“At the time, you could see how Northwestern might have been a B team. Obviously, they’re certainly not now.”

Noting that the Bears have contracted future games against Texas, Dykes said he’d like to maintain one high-profile game on the nonconference schedule each year.

“I think it’s good for college football, good for Cal,” he said.

But the arrangement also comes with the very real possibility of losing that game, adding importance to the other two to create a body of work that leads to bowl eligibility.

“Those other two games are really important,” Dykes said. “We hope we get to the point where we win all three of them every year, but you’ve got to give yourself an opportunity to be successful.

“You’ve got to win your nonconference games.”


Pac-12 media day: Dykes soaks it all in

Wherever he went Friday at Sony Pictures Studios, Cal coach Sonny Dykes was made to feel like a star. Certainly he was a center of attention at Pac-12 football media day.

“This is different for me,” said Dykes, who coached last season at Louisiana Tech. “I went to WAC media day last year and I interviewed myself. I asked some hard-hitting questions of myself.”
By comparison, there were hundreds of media members at Friday’s event in Culver City.
“It’s good to be in a conference that has exposure and has resources,” Dykes said. “This is why these guys work so hard to play at a level like this and why you coach at all the places you coach to get to a school like Cal and a league like the Pac-12 and the chance to go to the Rose Bowl. That’s the pinnacle of college football.”

Pac-12 media day: Bears feeling healthy

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said virtually all of the players who sat out spring ball with health issues will be at full strength with no limitations when the Bears begin practice Aug. 5.

That includes junior running back Brendan Bigelow, who had offseason surgery on his right knee. Bigelow is expected to be one of the Bears’ top offensive playmakers after averaging 9.8 yards per rush in limited action last season.

The exception could be TE/WR Spencer Hagan, still not fully cleared after surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“We anticipate him being back. But he had a pretty severe injury. Is he going to be 100 percent? We’ll see,” Dykes said Friday at Pac-12 media day at the Sony Pictures Studios. “We would anticipate he will be back, but can’t say without any doubt that he will be right now.

“He’s the one guy I have a question about.”

Also cleared to practice after sitting out the spring are RB Daniel Lasco (shoulder), TE/WR Richard Rodgers (shoulder), DE Chris McCain (shoulder), DE Brennan Scarlett (hand), CB Stefan McClure (knee), DL Sione Sina (knee), WR Chris Harper (shoulder) and OL Chris Adcock (shoulder).


Pac-12 media day: Tak McKinley won’t join Bears

Freshman defensive end Takkarist McKinley of Richmond won’t be with the Cal football team this season, coach Sonny Dykes said at Pac-12 Conference football media day on Friday.

McKinley did not qualify academically to enroll at Cal and will attend a Bay Area junior college, Dykes said.

“I’m disappointed for Tak,” Dykes said. “He worked hard and did everything he could to get eligible. He had some room to make up when we signed him and we knew this was a potential issue.

“He put the work in and we wanted to support him and give him every opportunity to get it done. And he will.”

McKinley, from Kennedy High, will become a “free agent” on the recruiting front, with anyone able to pursue his talents. He signed a national letter-of-intent with Cal last February, but the Bears will have to re-recruit him at this point.

Fellow would-be freshman defensive end Garrett Hughes of Centennial-Corona also won’t be with the Bears this season, but is expected to enroll for the spring semester in January.

“Bottom line, just kind of came down to numbers — that was something that communicated during the process,” Dykes said of Hughes. “He had more (academic work) to get done and (there were) some scholarship numbers as well.”

Cal will miss the two young defensive ends, expected to compete for playing time in the Bears’ new 4-3 defensive alignment. But Dykes said linebacker is an area of depth and that outside linebackers such as Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain will be used at the end spots.


Pac-12 media day: Cal picked 5th in North

Not surprisingly, Cal was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 North in the media poll released Friday at media day at Sony Pictures Studios.

“I’m not surprised,” linebacker Nick Forbes said. “We lost a couple key guys and we were 3-9 so we’re going to get dumped. We’ve been working tremendously hard in the offseason and we’re coming together as a team.

“Nobody expects or dreams to be bottom of the Pac. We’re doing the things it’s going to take for us to be successful.”

Oregon was tabbed first in the North, earning 14 first-place votes and 139 total votes. The Ducks edged defending Rose Bowl champion Stanford, which was picked second in the North with 11 first-place votes and 134 total points.

The Ducks also were projected to win the Pac-12 title game.

UCLA won a close vote for the South title over Arizona State. The Bruins earned 12 first-place votes and 130 total points, with ASU securing nine first-place ballots and 124 points.

Here’s the poll:

Pac-12 Football Media Poll

NORTH: 1. Oregon (14) 139 points; 2. Stanford (11) 134; 3. Oregon State 91; 4. Washington 81; 5. Cal 45; 6. Washington State (32).

SOUTH: 1. UCLA (12) 130; 2. Arizona State (9) 124; 3. USC (4) 113; 4. Arizona 73; 5. Utah 58; 6. Colorado 27.


Football: Dykes chats with fans on ESPN.com

This is a big media week for Pac-12 football coaches, and Cal’s Sonny Dykes was in the spotlight on Wednesday morning as half of the league’s coaches participated in a live chat on ESPN.com.

I’ll be in Los Angeles Friday for the annual Pac-12 media day, where Dykes and Cal players Bryce Treggs and Nick Forbes will talk about the upcoming season.

Here’s Dykes’ conversation with fans on ESPN.com:

Ken (CA): What was the best surprise you discovered about the Cal program/the Cal players?

Sonny Dykes: The biggest positive surprise was I think a little bit more of a willingness to buy in faster than I expected. Positive attitude. Good work ethic. The negative would be we don’t have a lot of depth in some key spots. But overall, more talent than I expected.

bob (CA): You going to soundly defeat Ohio State?

Sonny Dykes: We have a couple of tough ones before we play those guys! I know our players are excited about playing a marquee opponent like that, but we’re getting ready for Northwestern in the first game.

Davidson (Bear Territory): When will you like to have a starting QB in place?

Sonny Dykes: Well, certainly we’d like to by practice 10 or 12. Maybe faster than that. As we enter the third week, we need to have a starter in order, if we can.

Tim B. (Los Angeles): Hi Coach. Cal fans were mostly disappointed with Jeff Tedford’s ultra-conservative play calling last season; what can we expect from the “Bear Raid” this year?

Sonny Dykes: I think our philosophy lends itself to being aggressive. We go for it on fourth down probably more than most teams. We’re pretty aggressive on playcalling. The thing that we have to make sure is being able to make first downs. If you play with a fast tempo and you make those first downs, then the defense is at a big disadvantage.

Jordan Brenner (Los Angeles ): Coach Dykes, how long do you think it will take for Cal to be in the mix for a Rose Bowl?

Sonny Dykes: Shoot, I want them to be in the mix from Day 1. I think that I don’t know that this is a complete rebuilding job. That’s not our philosophy. Our philosophy is to win now. I think that we have enough pieces in place. We’re still trying to navigate where people go. There are enough pieces here for us to be successful. Stay healthy, be confident.

Phillip (A stadium near you): Coach Dykes, what was it about this program and university that attracted you to this job?

Sonny Dykes: Just potential. The program has tremendous potential. Great resources. Great place to live. Great recruiting. Strong commitment to being successful. That’s what you can ask for. I felt Cal checked off all of those boxes.

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Basketball: Bay Area previews

Bay Area News Group’s Jon Wilner provides this overview of the six local men’s Division I programs, with four of them led by coaches facing pressure to ratchet things up. Needless to say, Cal coach Mike Montgomery is not among that group.

Here’s my Cal season capsule, and a team schedule.

Click here for a rundown of the best college games on this year’s local calendar.

And a look at approaching milestones for Bay Area players and coaches.




Basketball: Bears set for exhibition opener

Cal opens its season Tuesday night with an exhibition game against San Francisco State. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

The Bears figure to start David Kravish and Richard Solomon up front, with Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs and Brandon Smith in the backcourt.

It will be intriguing to watch how the Bears’ freshmen fare in their first games against college opposition. Tyrone Wallace is expected to be the first guard off the bench — at least until Ricky Kreklow recovers from foot surgery in a few weeks.

Forward Kaileb Rodriguez is a work in progress, not expected to contribute too heavily this season. Garrett Galvin and Geoffrey Frid are walk-ons, although Frid is 7-foot-1 and may turn himself into a player in a couple years.

The X-factor among the freshmen is 6-7 forward Kahlil Johnson, who comes to Cal from Price HS in Los Angeles, the alma mater of Crabbe and Solomon. Johnson transferred in to Price as a senior, so he never played alongside his two new Cal teammates.

The Bears are hoping Johnson gives them something at either the small or power forward spot. Coach Mike Montgomery said Johnson has potential, but lots to learn to learn.

“He’s got a long ways to go from the standpoint that it’s just so different, all the things that are being thrown at him right now,” Montgomery said. “He’s trying to figure out when he has to make a cut, where he’s going, why he’s going there.

“Like a lot of high school kids, he’s never had to do all that stuff. He’s shown some signs of being able to do some things that are very encouraging. But he has a ways to go to put it all together.

“I hope he can get more aggressive and not get discouraged like most freshmen do. They kind of hit a wall, go to the bottom of the barrel before they start climbing their way out. He’s got some ability.”

Johnson showed a nice 3-point stroke during the team’s intra-squad scrimmage last week.

“He’ll shoot it. He’s not afraid to do that,” Montgomery said. “It’s just a question of does he recognize what a good shot is, what a bad shot is? `What do I do from there? How do I make the next guy a good player?’

“And that’s hard for these guys because we run a lot of stuff and takes a lot of execution.”

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Basketball: Hoops practice gets under way and Montgomery feeling good after 2011 scare

It was just about one year ago when Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery shared that he’d been diagnosed with bladder cancer, underwent surgery and was declared healthy.

I talked with him about the ordeal and how he views life and coaching as he begins his fifth season in Berkeley.

Click here for capsules on all 12 Bay Area men’s and women’s Division I programs.

Here are links to stories of possible interest:

— Deer Valley-Antioch forward Marcus Lee is at Kentucky on Friday night for Big Blue Madness. Lee will visit Cal a week from now — and take in the Big Game — before deciding between the Wildcats and Bears. Here’s more on Lee’s trip to Lexington.

— Mitty-San Jose star Aaron Gordon, who took an unofficial visit to Cal last month, is at Kansas tonight for the Jayhawks’ Late Night in the Phog.

UCLA held media day with a campus official monitoring questions about an NCAA inquiry into the eligibility of key freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.

— At Arizona, coach Sean Miller expects “great things.”