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Football: McClure says he’ll be ready for Grambling

Senior safety Stefan McClure, who has been handled with kid gloves while coming back from spring surgery on his right quad, finally was out of his red jersey Tuesday at practice.

Still no contact, but coach Sonny Dykes said he expects McClure to get some live action early next week and is confident he could be ready to play Sept. 5 in the opener against Grambling State.

No doubt about it, McClure said.

“I’ll be ready for the first game,” he said. “If we had a game this weekend, I’d be ready to go.”

McClure said his quad feels great, but that he’s anxious to be freed up to practice full out.

“It is driving me crazy. I want to get back out there,” he said. “They’re still not letting me hit anybody – no contact. I’m doing everything that’s not live, so it’s good.”

Without McClure and Griffin Piatt – who is farther behind in his recovery from knee surgery – the Bears have experimented with a variety of players at safety. Quarterback Luke Rubenzer is getting first-team reps and Damariay Drew – back after a year away to resolve legal issues – was impressive early.

But Drew missed at least five straight practices and was wearing a red jersey Tuesday, limiting his activity. Dykes, who had been vague for several days about Drew’s situation, said, “We’re trying to limit his collisions right now. He’ll be fine.”

Sounded like code for a possible head injury.

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Football: The latest on safeties Piatt, McClure

Presumed starting safeties Stefan McClure (quad) and Griffin Piatt (knee) both are ahead of schedule in their recoveries, according to coach Sonny Dykes, who also conceded it’s not a sure thing either will be ready to play by the Sept. 5 opener against Grambling State.

“That’s the target. We’ll see where they are,” Dykes said at Monday’s Bay Area College Football Media Day.

Dykes and the Cal medical staff originally did not expect McClure to be sufficiently healthy to include him among the 105 players teams are allowed to invite to fall training camp. But McClure will participate at some level when practice begins Friday.

“We were going to let him rehab and bring somebody else in,” Dykes said. “We didn’t think he was going to be ready, and the good thing is he is. We’ll see what he can do.”

Piatt, a one-time wide receiver walkon from Moraga, was a revelation on defense last season. He led the team with three interceptions and shared the lead with six pass breakups.

Then he tore his right ACL against Washington on Oct. 11 and was done for the season.

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Football: Dykes likes D-line’s improved depth

Cal incorporated two sets of scrimmages into its fourth workout of the spring on Monday, and defensive tackles Mustafa Jalil and David Davis sat out, as they will every time the Bears go live.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said afterward. “I love the depth. I love the fact that we can play five or six defensive tackles and not make much of a difference. Couldn’t do that (last year) at any time.”

Senior Trevor Kelly, beginning his second season with the program, has dropped 30 pounds. “He’s moving around so much better,” Dykes said.

Dykes also said junior Marcus Manley and transfer James Looney are doing good things. Tony Mekari and Chris Palmer also are in the mix at defensive tackle.

Jalil, who has struggled with knee issues throughout his Cal career, is being held out purely for precautionary reasons, Dykes said. “We want him to get his snaps next fall,” Dykes said.

At defensive end, Dykes singled out senior Kyle Kragen, who transferred in from Diablo Valley College last season but had his own knee problems.

“He’s been really good. He’s strong, playing really hard. He’s been around, he’s mature. He knows how to play the position,” Dykes said. “He’s worked really hard to get himself into great shape and he’s playing hungry.”

*****

Reserve quarterback-turned-safety Luke Rubenzer had a big moment Monday, intercepting Jared Goff during scrimmage action.

“Every day he gets better. That’s what I like to see,” Dykes said. “Today I thought he’s starting to get a sense for things. There’s certain guys who are in the right place at the right time. You want those guys playing for you. I think he’s one of those kids.”

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Swimming: Olympic star Missy Franklin in final meet at Cal as Golden Bears host Stanford on Saturday

Courtesy of staff writer Elliott Almond, here is a preview of Olympian Missy Franklin’s farewell meet at Berkeley:

Swim star Missy Franklin will make her final appearance at Cal on Saturday when the third-ranked Golden Bears conclude the dual meet season against No. 2 Stanford at 11 a.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

“It’s always a tough meet,” said Franklin, who will turn pro after the NCAA championships in March. “We really get after each other.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.

TV: The meet will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with Olympian Amy Van Dyken on the broadcast team. The action begins at 11 a.m.

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Athletics: Five power conferences overwhelmingly approve NCAA autonomy, including stipends for athletes

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby called it “a big day for student-athletes.”

A panel of 15 student-athletes and representatives from the 65 schools in the five football power conferences voted 79-1 on Saturday to give those five leagues autonomy from the remainder of the NCAA. The legislation included a full cost-of-attendance measure added to athletes’ scholarships.

“The benefits now available to student-athletes are more significant,” said Bowlsby, the former Stanford athletic director, from Saturday’s NCAA convention near Washington D.C. “This is a big step forward and a response to a changing circumstance for the 21st century athlete.”

Cal interim athletic director Michael Williams called the changes “a huge milestone” for the schools involved and college sports in general.

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Football: Cal provides different salary figures

According to numbers provided to me by Cal athletics, the Golden Bears may not pay their football assistant coaches less than any school in the Pac-12 Conference.

Using figures obtained from the USA Today’s annual coaching salary database, I wrote earlier this week that Cal paid its nine assistant coaches, including coordinators, a total of $2,081,600 in 2014. According to the USA Today, that ranked the Bears last in the Pac-12 and second-to-last among all schools from the Power 5 leagues whose salary information was included in the survey.

Cal is now telling me those numbers are wrong. In the interest of getting this right, here are some of the numbers provided Cal:

— Rob Likens, who left to become offensive coordinator at Kansas, actually made $205,000 in total compensation in 2014, not $135,500, as USA Today reported.

— Zach Yenser, who took the offensive line coach/run game coordinator position at KU, earned $180,000 at Cal, not $111,500.

All of Cal’s other non-coordinator assistants also earned more in 2014 than the newspaper’s database indicated.

According to Cal’s figures, coach Sonny Dykes’  staff earned a total of $2,445,000 in 2014 — which is $364,000 more than the USA Today’s salary total.

This would place the Bears ninth among Pac-12 schools — slightly ahead of Utah, Oregon State and Washington State — not last.

The caveat here, of course, is that if USA Today’s numbers on Cal were incorrect, can we trust that their figures for everyone are accurate?

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Football: Big Game facts and figures

STANFORD AT CAL

KICKOFF: 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

TV/RADIO: FoxSports1; 680-AM/810-AM.

RECORDS: Stanford 5-5, 3-4 in Pac-12; Cal 5-5, 3-5.

SERIES HISTORY: Stanford leads 59-46-11. The Cardinal won 63-13 last season and has won four straight.

STORYLINES: Both teams enter the 117th Big Game needing one win to become bowl eligible, in stark contrast to a year ago when Cal was on its way to a 1-11 season and Stanford headed toward a second straight Pac-12 title and fourth BCS bowl in a row … This marks the first time since 2003 that neither team has a winning record entering the Big Game and the first time in 35 seasons that both are exactly 5-5. . . . Cal, with just one player on its roster who has won The Axe, has been outscored 163-58 the past four seasons. . . . Stanford may need a victory Saturday more urgently than Cal in order to become bowl eligible. The Cardinal closes its regular season next Friday at No. 11 UCLA, while the Bears finish at home Saturday against a BYU team that is 2-4 since star quarterback Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending broken leg.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: LB Jake Kearney (abdomen) is doubtful; DT David Davis (knee) is out; Stanford: DL Aziz Shittu (knee) and FB Patrick Skov (undisclosed) are out. S Kyle Olugbode (undisclosed) is probable.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s defense vs. Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery. The Cardinal ranks just 10th in the conference in passing, which has diminished the numbers put up by its versatile and explosive wideout. But the Bears are last nationally in passing yards allowed, and were victimized last year by Montgomery, who caught five passes for 160 yards, including four touchdowns, and ran for a fifth score. Montgomery has added returning punts to his arsenal this season and has scored twice via that route.

STANFORD STATS THAT MATTER: Only one team, Oregon, has scored 30 or more points against Stanford this season … Stanford leads the Pac-12 in fewest points allowed (16.5 per game) but is last in points scored (23.9 per game) … Stanford has struggling with situational football, ranking 11th in the league in third-down conversions (37.8 percent) and last in red zone efficiency (66.7 percent) … Quarterback Kevin Hogan has six touchdowns passes and no interceptions in two Big Games … The Cardinal is 10-1 following a loss under coach David Shaw and 5-0 this season against unranked teams.

CAL STATS THAT MATTER: Cal has not won a game this season scoring fewer than 31 points . . . Jared Goff needs one touchdown pass to equal Pat Barnes’ 1996 single-season school record of 31. He has thrown 146 passes since his most recent interception, Oct. 18 against UCLA … Daniel Lasco is second in the Pac-12 with 13 touchdowns, including at least one in nine consecutive games. He needs 118 yards to become Cal’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2011. . . . A year after finishing last in the conference in red-zone efficiency (72.1 percent), the Bears rank second (90.5 percent).

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Football: BYU game to begin at either 1:30 or 3 p.m.

Cal’s regular-season finale against BYU on Nov. 29 at Memorial Stadium will kick off at either 1:30 or 3 p.m., and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks, the conference office announced.

The final start time will be announced either Saturday or Sunday, after the Big Game at Cal on Saturday afternoon.

Cal and BYU have met three times previously, with the Cougars winning twice. But the Bears prevailed in the most recent matchup, posting a 35-28 victory in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl.

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Athletics: Barbour lands on her feet

As you no doubt heard,former Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour was introduced Saturday as new AD at Penn State.

Barbour, who will receive a five-year contract worth $700,000 per year (plus up to $200,000 in incentives), achieved a lot at Cal. She said her problems in Berkeley were the result of her loyalty.

“What it really boils down to is I stayed too long,” Barbour was quoted saying the Associated Press story on her hiring. “Leading a program like Cal’s, like Penn State’s, in terms of a major conference and a lot of sports and a lot of moving parts, 10 years is a long time.

“If you look around the country, there are very few (athletic directors) that have that kind of length. Ultimately, it’s about having stayed a little too long, but it was about that I was loyal. I’m a loyalist.

“In the end, at some point, you stay too long.”

Here are stories on Barbour’s hiring from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Phildelphia Inquirer.

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H. Michael Williams is Cal’s interim athletic director

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is Jeff Faraudo’s breaking news story on Cal’s athletic director situation:

By Jeff Faraudo

H. Michael Williams, a former Cal wrestler with extensive financial and leadership experience, has been named the school’s interim athletic director while the university conducts a search to replace Sandy Barbour, a campus source said.

A 1982 graduate of Cal, Williams is a trustee with the U.C. Berkeley Foundation and serves on several university panels, including the recently formed Chancellor’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics. He is a former vice chairman, capital markets for Barclays Global Investors.

Williams’ appointment will be formally announced at a Friday news conference at Memorial Stadium. The source said Williams will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks will oversee the search to replace Barbour, who has served as athletic director since 2004 but will move a position on the academic side in a sports management program. Barbour’s last day as AD is July 15.