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Football: Director says Lynch photo was staged

NFL star Marshawn Lynch of Oakland is being lampooned on the internet and TV for a photo showing his parked white Lamborghini protected by velvet ropes.

His people want to set the record straight.

The scene was staged, according to Mario Bobino, the director of “Family First — The Marshawn Lynch Story,” which concluded filming in Oakland last weekend.

“It was a prop for the movie,” Bobino said Thursday. “We did that.”

Lynch’s representatives reached out to this newspaper to “set the record straight” about the photo, which was taken from an upstairs apartment window across the street from where the car was parked Sunday.

Since then, the photo has gone viral on social media, and has been shared by websites including CBS Sports, Deadspin, Washington Post and NFL.com. Bobino said two Bay Area news stations showed it.

Click here to see the photo and the rest of this story.

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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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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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Football: Stefan McClure embraces safety role, but Bears need others to develop at cornerback

It says a lot about Cal’s troubles in the defensive secondary that a player who missed half of last season due to injury and now is playing a new position is the unit’s key man.

Junior Stefan McClure, who played five games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, has been shifted from cornerback to safety in a position group with lots of moving parts.

Whether the Bears can afford to keep McClure there depends on how others develop at corner.

“I like the depth on our football team,” coach Sonny Dykes said Wednesday during Pac-12 media day at Paramount Studios. “But the secondary is still one part of our team that we still don’t have as many bodies that are ready to play as we need to.”

McClure had sufficiently recovered from surgery to repair a torn meniscus that he was able to participate in spring ball. That allowed him to learn a new system under first-year defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and new defensive backs coach Greg Burns.

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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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Football: Bears’ No. 1 priority — red-zone efficiency

The No. 1 priority of the Cal offense this season is to transform opportunity into points.

The Golden Bears piled up gaudy yardage totals during their 1-11 season in 2013, but it didn’t translate into touchdowns.

More often than not, the red-zone became a dead zone for the Bears.

“It’s definitely frustrating, getting down there so many times and not being able to punch it in,” Goff said Wednesday during Pac-12 media day at Paramount Studios. “Getting that ball from the 20 to the goal line is the whole game, really.”

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Football: Bears excited to start anew

No one is more excited than Cal that a new college football season is at hand.

“I can’t stress how happy we are to have last year in the past and to be where we are now,” sophomore quarterback Jared Goff said Wednesday at Pac-12 media day. “We can see the growth — mentally, physically. It’s a different team. It’s not even remotely the same team as last year.”

Coming off a 1-11 season, the Bears open Aug. 30 at Northwestern. Coach Sonny Dykes said fans will have no trouble seeing the difference in his squad.

“We were so bad last year, I think the improvement’s going to be pretty obvious,” Dykes said. “We weren’t very competitive last year in a lot of games. That’s going to be the biggest difference, competing in games, giving ourselves an opportunity to win.

“What happened so often last year is midway through the first quarter you’d look up and we were down by 21 points. I think it’s going to be obvious to everybody — our fans, our opponents — that we’re going to be a much-improved football team.”

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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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Athletics: Williams calls interim AD a `dream job’

During his days as a student at Cal, Michael Williams considered it a special coup that he knew someone with keys to old Harmon Gym, allowing him and his friends to play late-night pickup basketball.

As interim athletic director at Cal, Williams, 53, is now that guy.

“When I went up to Memorial Stadium and I had a pass that opened the football offices, it was unbelievable,” Williams said Wednesday during his first media interview since being given the keys to operate Cal’s entire athletic department.

“There are elements of this that are just a dream job,” said Williams, a former Cal wrestler now retired from a successful career in investment management. “When you think about it as a fan, I get to talk to all the coaches whenever I want. And I get to interact with the student-athletes.”

A resident of Lafayette, married with three children, Williams officially began his job Wednesday as interim replacement for Sandy Barbour, moved to a different position on campus by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

But Williams actually has been at work for about three weeks now, not counting volunteer assignments that include serving as a trustee for the U.C. Berkeley Foundation, working on the chancellor’s Task Force for Academic and Athletics and on the search committee for a new provost.

Dirks said Williams was the only person he asked to take this assignment, which could last close to a year. “He’s somebody for whom it was a natural,” said Dirks, explaining that he will rely on Williams’ input as he conducts the search for Cal’s next permanent athletic director.

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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.