Aug. 15, 2003
This Week's Game
In one of the country's premier early season games, the California Golden Bears travel to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium to play the nationally No. 5 ranked (ESPN/USA Today) Kansas State Wildcats in the 7th annual Black Coaches Association Classic this Saturday, Aug. 23. Proceeds from the game provide college scholarships for minority students throughout the United States.
This year's debut represents the earliest start for a season opener in Cal history. Prior to this season, California had opened its campaign on Aug. 31 on two occasions-1985 vs. San Jose State (a 48-21 Cal win) and last year vs. Baylor (a 70-22 Bear blowout victory).
Buoyed by one of its finest recruiting years in history, Cal looks to replenish a roster that lost 23 seniors and 15 starters from last year's 7-5 club, which finished tied for fourth place (4-4) in the Pac-10 standings. With first-year head coach Jeff Tedford earning Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors, the Bears posted their first winning season in nine years, upending such national programs as UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Michigan State in 2002.
Tedford, who preaches excellence and precision in offense, defense and special teams, will direct his 2003 forces into one of the toughest schedules in NCAA football this year. With Kansas State leading the way, no less than nine opponents on Cal's slate were 2002 bowl teams. On offense, Tedford will rely heavily on the senior leadership of tackle Mark Wilson (2002 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection) and wide receiver Jonathan Makonnen (team-leading 54 rec., 682 yds., 7 TDs). On defense, where nine starters have departed, the Bears' cornerstones will be junior tackle Lorenzo Alexander ('02 All-Pac-10 honorable mention) and sophomore rover Donnie McCleskey (top returning tackler with 45 stops). Junior Mike McGrath, an erstwhile walk-on who nabbed All-Pac-10 second team honors with 21 special team tackles, will once again ignite Cal's coverage teams.
Cal-Kansas State Series
This marks the first time Cal and Kansas State have met.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
With Bill Snyder at the helm, Kansas State has won 116 games in the past 14 years. In contrast, the Wildcats won only 119 games in the 49 seasons prior to Snyder's arrival in Manhattan, Kan. Last year was no different, as Snyder engineered an 11-2 season that culminated with a 34-27 victory over Arizona State in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Quarterback Ell Roberson and running back Darren Sproles, both returning 1,000-yard rushers and Heisman candidates, are back to lead a KSU offense that ranked No. 2 in scoring (44.8 ppg.) and No. 5 in rushing (264.1 ypg) among NCAA Division 1-A schools last year. Roberson jetted for 1,032 yards and 16 TDs on 202 carries-also passing for 1,580 yards and seven TDs-while Sproles uncorked the best rushing season in school history with 1,465 yards and 17 TDs. Roberson erupted for 228 yards on 29 carries-including a 91-yard TD run-in leading KSU to a 49-13 win over Nebraska last year. The Wildcats return five starters from a 2002 defensive unit that ranked first in points allowed (11.8 ppg) and second in both total defense (249.0) and rush defense (69.5) in the nation. Linebacker Andrew Shull, who posted the second- most sacks (9) and forced fumbles (4) in the Big 12 last fall, anchors the attack.
KSFO to Carry 2003 Opener
Due to a scheduling conflict involving the San Francisco 49ers, KGO Radio will not carry the Bears' season opener. Instead, sister station KSFO (560 AM, San Francisco), will serve as the flagship station for the Cal-Kansas State contest. Roxy Bernstein, voice of Cal basketball, will also replace Joe Starkey as play-by-play announcer for Saturday's game.
Cal Radio on the Internet
Cal football radio broadcasts can be heard live on the Internet for a nominal subscription charge. To listen, go to www.CalBears.com, click on the audio broadcast link and hear Joe Starkey and Lee Grosscup call the action.
Cal Sports TV Show
Cal Sports Magazine, a weekly TV show that showcases Cal football highlights and features on other Golden Bear sports, will once again air on FOX Sports Bay Area. Hosted by Mike Pawlawski, the half-hour program kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 4 p.m., airing again on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 8:30 p.m. Check your local listings for air times each week.
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83), the man who directed Cal to its first winning football season (7-5) in nine years and the nation's biggest one-year turnaround in the regular season in 2002, is in his second season as head coach of the Golden Bears. After taking over as the program's 32nd head coach in December 2001, he transformed Cal from a 1-10 team in 2001 to a 7-5 club last year. A vote of his fellow conference coaches awarded him the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year award. Tedford arrived at Cal after four highly successful seasons at Oregon, where he served as offensive coordinator and helped the Ducks to a combined 38-10 record, including an 11-1 mark last fall when Oregon won the Pac-10 championship and earned a No. 2 national ranking. Tedford began his coaching career in 1989 as an offensive assistant with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. In 1992, he returned to his alma mater, Fresno State, as quarterback coach. A year later, he was elevated to offensive coordinator, a position he held through 1997. A native of Downey, Calif., Tedford was a record-setting quarterback as a player at Fresno State, graduating with a degree in physical education in 1983.
Bill Snyder, Kansas State (William Jewell '63) enters his 15th season as head coach of the Wildcats with a 116-51-1 career record. Voted the 2002 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Snyder has led K-State to 10 straight bowl appearances and 11-win seasons in five of the past six years. He has been named National Coach of the Year on three occasions (1991, 1994 and 1998). During the past 10 years, he has guided the Wildcats to a 98-26-1 record. Snyder is a four-time Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year finalist, a three-time Big Eight Coach of the Year (1990-91-93) and two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year (1998, 2002).
Gameday Promotions (Next Week)
Cal Football and ANG Newspapers are hosting Youth Day for the Cal vs. Southern Mississippi game on Saturday, August 30 at 1 p.m. All fans 17 and under are invited to purchase reserved seats in advance for only $5 (regularly $27 & no coupon required). Before the game, fans are invited to attend FunZone, Cal's free tailgate experience at Maxwell Family Field, starting at 10:30 a.m. FunZone features great food and beverage options from local vendors, live music, interactive games, and the Kids' Zone area with fun-filled activities for youth fans.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2003 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2003 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game.
Cal Looks to Continue Winning Trend in Season Openers
Cal has enjoyed a measure of success in recent season openers, reeling off six opening wins in the past seven years. The Bears were victorious in curtain-raisers from 1996-2000 before the streak was snapped in 2001, when the Sugar Bowl-bound Illinois Fighting Illini walloped the home eleven, 44-17. Cal started the previous five-game winning string under then-head coach Steve Mariucci in 1996 with a 45-25 victory at San Jose State. Tom Holmoe continued that success with four straight triumphs-35-3 at Houston in 1997, followed by another win (14-10) over Houston the next season in Berkeley, and subsequent home victories over Rutgers (21-7) in 1999 and Utah (24-21) in 2000. First-year coach Jeff Tedford christened his maiden season in smashing fashion with a 70-22 rout of visiting Baylor last year in Memorial Stadium. Starting from the first play from scrimmage-a 71-yard TD pass from TB Terrell Williams to WR David Gray-Cal piled on the points. The Bears set a modern day school record with 35 points in the first quarter-more points than they tallied in any full game the previous season. Almost every area of the lineup contributed to the Baylor victory, with the defense returning two interceptions for touchdowns (LB Matt Nixon, 100 yards; CB Jemeel Powell, 26 yards), the offense compiling 460 total yards without a turnover, and special teams averaging better than 26 yards on kickoff returns. In the 120 previous seasons of Cal football, the Bears have chiseled out an all-time record of 75-41-5 (.640) in season openers. One daunting stat not in Cal's favor: Kansas State is one of only four schools in the nation to win each of its season-opening games since 1990.
Rebuilding or Reloading? Cal's Recruiting Class Must Help '03 Club
That Returns Only 9 Starters
It's not Jeff Tedford's style to lay awake at night worrying about his team's potential, but any way you slice it, the Bears suffered heavy losses from last season's 7-5 club. Tedford and his club were forced to say farewell to the school's No. 2 career passer (Kyle Boller), No. 2 all-time rusher (Joe Igber), No. 3 career sack leader (Tully Banta-Cain) and No. 5 career kickoff returner (LaShaun Ward), plus a cornerback in Nnamdi Asomugha who joined Boller as NFL first-round picks last spring. Yet, perhaps more importantly, Cal lost 23 seniors from last year's team, and returns only nine starters-a figure that ranks dead last (tied with Florida and South Carolina) among 117 NCAA Division 1-A schools. While those facts and figures may sound gloomy for the '03 Bears, there may be reason to believe another winning season may be in the cards. Why? Because Tedford and his Cal coaching staff enjoyed one of the finest recruiting years in school history. The Bears signed 28 players in February, including 11 who received All-American accolades. Virtually every recruiting publication and web site ranked Cal's incoming class among the nation's Top 20. In Rival.com's ranking of the state's Top 100 prep players, the Bears landed 14 from the list (only USC had more among NCAA schools). Cal also boasted six of the country's Top 125 junior college players, according to PrepStar magazine.
Tedford Continues QB Tradition at Cal
Since the days of All-American John Meek, who passed Cal to an unbeaten season and Rose Bowl title in 1937, the Golden Bears have been a cradle for college quarterbacks. Twelve years later in 1949, Bob Celeri also earned All-American honors after guiding the Bears to a 10-1 mark and Rose Bowl appearance. In the past four decades, Cal has produced an extraordinary list of polished passers. They include such legends as Joe Kapp (1956-58), Craig Morton (1962-64), Steve Bartkowksi (1972-74), Joe Roth (1975-76), Rich Campbell (1977-80), Gale Gilbert (1980-84), Troy Taylor (1986-89), Mike Pawlawski (1988-91) and Pat Barnes (1993-96). Perhaps, the best is yet to come in Berkeley, thanks to the arrival of head coach Jeff Tedford last year. Tedford, himself a former All-American honorable mention QB at Fresno State, has recruited and/or developed five quarterbacks who have become high first-round draft choices in the NFL. As offensive coordinator at Fresno State, he worked his magic with Trent Dilfer (No. 6 pick by Tampa Bay, 1994) and David Carr (No. 1 by Houston, 2002). As offensive coordinator at Oregon, he transformed Akili Smith (No. 3 by Cincinnati, 1999) and Joey Harrington (No. 3 by Detroit, 2002) into college superstars. And last year at Cal, he inherited senior Kyle Boller, who after three previous seasons of frustration, blossomed into perhaps the nation's most improved quarterback. Boller, who later would become a first-round draft choice of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, finished his Cal career ranked first in TD passes (64) and second all-time in passing yards (7,980) in school history. Now, on the horizon, are four new faces on Tedford's QB assembly line. Returnees Reggie Robertson and Richard Schwartz, plus newcomers Aaron Rodgers (Butte JC) and Cary Dove (Taft HS), provide promising arms for the head coach. Robertson saw limited action as Boller's understudy the past two years, completing 30 of 67 passes for 362 yards and two TDs, while Rodgers was a JC third team All-American in throwing for 2,408 yards, 28 TDs and only four interceptions last year.
Gregory a Wizard in Molding Turnover-Minded Defenses
At age 40, Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory may be one of the top young defensive minds in all of college football. As defensive coordinator at Boise State two years ago, he molded that unit into the Western Athletic Conference's No. 2 ranked scoring defense. And inheriting a Cal defense that had surrendered a school-record 432 points (39.2 ppg) in 2001, he transformed virtually the same group of players into one of the Pac-10 most opportunistic defenses. The 2002 Bear defense yielded 26.5 points per contest-almost two touchdowns less per game than the year before-and ranked among the nation's best in many key statistical categories. Cal boasted a +18 turnover margin, which led the Pac-10 and ranked No. 7 nationally. Much of the credit for that wide differential must be given to Gregory's defense, which ranked second in the NCAA in fumble recoveries (21) and seventh in total takeaways (36). Last year's Bears also ranked fifth in the Pac-10 and 19th nationally in rushing defense (114.0). In fact, the Bears held their last three 2002 opponents to 87 combined rushing yards-vs. Arizona (-5), Arizona State (-2) and Stanford (94). Gregory heads a defensive coaching staff that features another former defensive coordinator (defensive line coach Ken Delgado at San Diego State), a former four-time Super Bowl starter (DB coach J.D. Williams at Buffalo), and the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Dave Wilcox (linebacker coach Justin Wilcox).
Tight End Plays Featured Role in Cal Offense
Since head coach Jeff Tedford and offensive coordinator George Cortez arrived in Berkeley last year, the tight end position has played a much more prominent role in the Cal offense. Under a previous coaching regime in 2001, the Bear tight ends only mustered 18 receptions as an entire unit. But last year, under the direction of Tedford and Cortez, the tight end corps produced 50 catches. In fact, senior Tom Swoboda-who had managed only eight grabs the previous season-exploded for 42 receptions for 451 yards and seven touchdowns in 2002. Swoboda's seven TDs led all Pac-10 tight ends and his catch total tied him for the league lead last year. While Swoboda has graduated, the Bears again figure to dissect opposing defenses with sure-handed tight ends this fall. There are five quality players at the position who figure to make an impact in 2003. They include senior Brandon Hall (8 rec., 79 yds.), juniors Jordon Hunter and Garrett Cross, sophomore Eric Beegun, and true freshman Craig Stevens. Hall, fully recovered from last year's ankle injury, hopes to return to his 2001 form when he snatched 26 passes for 295 yards and two TDs at Orange Coast College and was one of the nation's prized JC recruits. Hunter, a former Pac-10 All-Freshman first team selection, and Beegun, are game-experienced players, while Cross may be the cream of the crop. A first team JC All-American, Cross hauled in 39 passes for 590 yards as a teammate of QB Aaron Rodgers at Butte College last year. Cross' 10 touchdown grabs last year led all JC tight ends in the state.
Kansas State No Stranger to Big Turnarounds
While Tedford and the Golden Bears certainly should be credited for an amazing one-year turnaround, perhaps no college football program has produced the about-face that Kansas State has over the past quarter century. It started in 1990, when second-year head coach Bill Snyder produced a 5-6 season, which represented a five-win improvement over his 1-10 club in 1989. Snyder's success in Manhattan has become legendary since that season. The Wildcats, who were 1-36-1 to close the 1980's, stormed to an 87-30-1 mark in the 1990's. What's more, K-State has earned 10 consecutive bowl berths and owns the nation's fifth-best winning percentage (.794) over the last 10 seasons-trailing only Nebraska (.852), Florida State (.844), Florida (.807) and Tennessee (.798). In fact, Kansas State is one of only three schools in college football history to win 11 games five times over a six-year period (1997 to the present).
Somewhere, Pappy Waldorf Will Be Watching
The legend of Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf continues to live on the campuses of both Cal and Kansas State. And it would seem only appropriate that somewhere, the College Football Hall of Fame coach will be watching the first-ever meeting between the Golden Bears and Wildcats. After all, Pappy's magic touch has left an indelible mark on the football history of both schools. While his stay in Manhattan, Kansas lasted only one season, Waldorf guided KSU to its only conference championship (the Big Six) in 1934. The Wildcats started slowly that year, etching a 2-2-1 mark after five games. But Waldorf's Wildcats reeled off five consecutive wins-including road victories at Oklahoma (8-7) and Nebraska (19-7), to claim the Big Six Conference championship and the national title with a 7-2-1 record. The next season, Waldorf departed for Northwestern, where he spent 12 seasons (1935-46) before he was hired in Berkeley. Under his direction, Cal enjoyed one of its finest eras in school history. He posted a 67-32-4 record during his 10-year reign (1947-56), leading the Bears to three straight Rose Bowl appearances from 1948-50, a period in which Cal spliced together a 38-game regular season unbeaten streak. Following his stint in Berkeley, Waldorf served as player personnel director for the San Francisco 49ers during the final 20 years of his remarkable football career.
Wildcats, Bears Both Boast Strong NFL Presence
Both Kansas State and California rank among the nation's Top 20 in former players currently in the NFL. As of June 30, Cal had 29 alumni on NFL rosters, tied for second most in the Pac-10 and tied for the 17th highest total in the country. Kansas State, meanwhile, boasted 31 former players in the NFL to rank 13th among NCAA schools.
Cal Has Produced 20 1st Round Draft Picks
With QB Kyle Boller (19th, Baltimore) and CB Nnamdi Asomugha (31st, Oakland) both selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, the University of California has now produced 20 first-round picks in its history. The Bears also can claim eight NFL first-rounders in the past eight years-Regan Upshaw (12th, Tampa Bay) and Duane Clemons (16th, Minnesota) in 1996, Tony Gonzalez (13th, Kansas City) and Tarik Glenn (19th, Indianapolis) in 1997, Deltha O'Neal (15th, Denver) in 2000, Andre Carter (7th, San Francisco) in 2001, and Boller and Asomugha in 2003.
California Defense to Face 4 of Nation's Top 10 QBs, Says The Sporting News
California's defense, which returns only two starters (tackle Lorenzo Alexander and rover Donnie McCleskey) from last year's unit, will square off against four of the NCAA's Top 10 quarterbacks, according to The Sporting News' pre-season magazine. They are Washington's Cody Pickett (4,458 yards, 28 TDs), Kansas State's Eli Roberson (1,032 yards and 16 TDs rushing, 1,580 yards and 7 TDs passing), Arizona State's Andrew Walter (3,877 yards and 28 TDs) and Colorado State's Bradlee Van Pelt (2,073 yards and 10 TDs passing, 819 yards and 11 TDs rushing).
Bears Play One of Nation's Toughest Schedules in 2003
The California Golden Bears have traditionally played one of the nation's most challenging schedules, and 2003 is no exception. Of their 13 opponents, nine were bowl teams in 2002-USC (Orange), Washington (Sun), UCLA (Las Vegas), Arizona State (Holiday Bowl), Oregon State (Insight), Oregon (Seattle), Kansas State (Holiday), Southern Mississippi (Houston) and Colorado State (Liberty). What's more, three other 2003 foes were bowl bound two years ago-Illinois (Sugar), Stanford (Seattle) and Utah (Las Vegas).
Arrowhead Stadium the Home of 4 Former Golden Bears
Four former Cal football players are currently members of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs: All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, wide receivers Dameane Douglas (Cal's all-time reception leader with 195 rec.) and LaShaun Ward, and linebacker Scott Fujita.
Tedford Already Tied for 5th in Pac-10 for Seniority
Just how unstable is it to be a Pac-10 head football coach? Well, consider this: Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, who enters only his second year at the helm, is already tied for fifth in seniority among conference head coaches. Tedford, named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year after transforming Cal from a 1-10 team in 2001 to 7-5 in 2002 in his first season, trails only Oregon's Mike Bellotti, Arizona's John Mackovic, Arizona State's Dick Koetter and USC's Pete Carroll in consecutive years of service.
Cal, KSU Have Produced Notable NFL Quarterbacks
Some of the finest quarterbacks in NFL history cut their passing teeth at Cal and Kansas State. Kyle Boller, who passed for more than 2,800 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, is the latest in a long line of California QBs who have gone on to pro football. Boller, the Baltimore Ravens' second first-round pick at No. 19 overall, followed in the footsteps of such hallowed names as Craig Morton (Broncos and Cowboys), Joe Kapp (Vikings), Steve Bartkowski (Falcons) and Vince Ferragamo (Rams). Although the Wildcats have primarily been a run-oriented team under Bill Snyder in recent years, Kansas State once produced two bona fide NFL passers within a seven-year span from 1968-74. Lynn Dickey, who played at K-State from 1968-70, later passed for more than 21,000 yards with the Green Bay Packers. And Steve Grogan, who wore the Wildcat purple uniforms from 1972-74, threw for 26,886 yards during his NFL tenure, as he led the New England Patriots to their first-ever Super Bowl in 1986.
Cal Adds Serious Speed to 2003 Team Roster
One of Cal's recruiting priorities was speed, and the incoming 2003 Bear class may be one of the swiftest in recent school history. No less than nine recruits have been clocked in 4.5 seconds or faster in the 40-yard dash. Headed by mercurial wide receiver Noah Smith of Taft High School (Woodland Hills, Calif.), who has blazed to a 4.29 time, the group includes six players with 4.4 times on their resumes. The Torrid Nine also includes wide receivers Devin Stearns (Serra HS), Sam DeSa (Monte Vista HS) and Sean Young (Berkeley HS), running back J.J. Arrington (College of the Canyons), linebacker Francis Blay-Miezah (Mt. San Antonio College), defensive backs Brandon Sanders (Oakland Skyline HS), Kenny Frank (Cerritos HS) and Daymeion Hughes (Crenshaw HS).
Three-Headed Tailback to Replace Igber in 2003
It will be rushing by committee in 2003, as Cal running back coach Ron Gould fields three quality ball-carriers who will replace the departed Joe Igber, who zoomed for 1,130 yards on 241 carries last year to become the first Bear thousand-yard rusher since 1993. Igber, who capped his Berkeley tenure with a career-best 226 yards vs. Stanford in his final game, claimed the No. 2 spot behind Chuck Muncie on Cal's career rushing list with 3,124 yards. While the diminutive back will be missed, the Bears may actually be deeper and better on the ground this fall. Senior Adimchinobe Echemandu (formerly Joe Echema), a former prep All-American who has risen above personal adversity to claim the starting tailback position this year, is a strong (6-0, 225 pounds), versatile back that Coach Tedford compares favorably to his former Oregon star Onterrio Smith. As a sophomore in 2000, the Lagos, Nigeria native was the Bears' third-leading rusher with 215 yards. He will be backed up by two quality runners in redshirt freshman Marcus O'Keith, a former prep All-American who was one of the surprises of camp, and JC transfer J.J. Arrington, who barreled for 769 yards and 19 TDs on only 135 carries for College of the Canyon's high-octane offense that averaged 54.5 points per game last season.
Unheralded Makonnen Could be One of Pac-10's Best
One of the Pac-10's most underrated receivers resides in Strawberry Canyon. In a conference bloated with superstar pass-catchers, it's easy to overlook Cal's senior wideout Jonathan Makonnen. A transfer from City College of San Francisco's national championship team last year, the 6-0, 175-pound Makonnen has overcome the critics who said he was too small or lacked breakaway speed. He may very well lead all Pac-10 receivers in toughness and consistency. Missing no practices despite suffering a broken finger in early pre-season 2002 camp, Makonnen went on to snare 54 passes for 682 yards and seven TDs as the conference's ninth-leading receiver. The Menlo Park product-who works out with future Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice during the off-season-was the acme of consistency, catching three passes or more in 11 of Cal's 12 games last year.
Cal Rover McCleskey Among Nation's Premier Sophs
How many college football teams can say that their top returning tackler is a sophomore? And how many of those teams can say that their sophomore didn't even crack the starting lineup until midway through his freshman season? Well, Cal's rover Donnie McCleskey fits the bill. Making a remarkable transformation from high school running back to the college secondary, McCleskey averaged 5.4 tackles in starting the Bears' final seven games. A member of The Sporting News' Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, he finished the season with 45 tackles, five pass break-ups and one interception. He figures to be one of this year's team leaders on a defense that returns only two starters from 2002.
All-Pac-10 2nd Teamer McGrath Leads Special Teams
Junior Mike McGrath came to Cal as a walk-on from nearby Watsonville. As far as special teams players are concerned, he may be one the best tacklers in college football. Unleashing one of the finest seasons by a special teams player in recent history last year, he drilled opponents for 21 tackles (17 solo) and forced one fumble-exclusively on special teams. For his efforts, he was named second team All-Pac-10 last season. And perhaps more importantly, he was awarded a football scholarship by head coach Jeff Tedford during the off-season.
California's 6-Win Increase in 2002 Tied Nation's Lead,
Ranked 2nd Best Ever in School History
With their impressive 7-5 mark last season, the 2002 Golden Bears produced one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in college football history. They bettered the previous year's mark by six wins, which tied for the biggest increase among NCAA Division 1-A teams last year (regular season games only). And their 5.5-game improvement (margin of wins and losses divided by two) equals the second best one-year turnaround in Cal history. The greatest one-year flip by a Cal team came in 1947, when first-year coach Pappy Waldorf led his Golden Bears to a 9-1 record-a six-and-a-half game improvement from the previous season (2-7 in '46 under Frank Wickhorst).
Cal Posted First Winning Season in Nine Years in '02
Not only did Cal rebound dramatically from its 1-10 debacle the previous year, the 7-5 Bears established themselves as a nationally respected program almost overnight. The 30-7 Big Game victory over Stanford Nov. 23 clinched Cal's first winning season since 1993, when Keith Gilbertson's club etched a 9-4 mark. By shredding No. 25 Arizona State, 55-38, in Tempe Nov. 9, the 2002 Bears became the first Cal team in history to score three road wins against nationally ranked opponents in the same season. The Bears also defeated No. 15 Michigan State (46-22) and No. 12 Washington (34-27). In fact, it had been 52 years since a Cal team had simply beaten three nationally ranked teams in the same campaign period. And national media began to take notice of last year's upstart team. In the Associated Press poll, the Bears were ranked 23rd on Sept. 15, and received 80 votes-29th most in the nation-Oct. 6. To add further credibility, the New York Times' Computer Rankings rated Cal 12th in the country as the Pac-10's highest-rated school on Oct. 6.
Total Transformation: Cal Made Dramatic Upgrade in '02
Very few college football programs underwent such a positive one-year transformation as the likes of last year's California team. In their 11-game schedule in 2001, the Bears were saddled with an 1-10 record and were outdistanced by an average score of 39.2 points to 18.3 points. A year later, a revitalized Cal club carved out its best record (7-5) since 1994 and outscored its opponents by a margin of 9.1 points (35.6 to 26.5).
Led by Special Teams, Bears Rip off Big Plays in '02
Another contributing factor to Cal's comeback season was the big play. In their 12 games last year, the Bears unleashed no less than 22 plays that measured 50 yards and beyond. Cal ranked first in kickoff return average (24.5) and third in punt return average (12.80) in the Pac-10. However, gone is kick returner LaShaun Ward, who averaged 28.9 yards per attempt as a senior last year to rank first in the conference and fifth nationally. Cal's coverage units were also very respectable last year, limiting their foes to a 17.4-yard kickoff return average (1st in Pac-10) and 11.2 punt return figure. What's more, Cal special teams blocked four punts and three kicks last season.
'02 Bears Outscored Foes, 244-127, in 1st Halves
Roaring out of the gates like few others, Cal feasted on 2002 opponents in the first half last year. The Bears, who trailed at halftime only twice in 2002, outscored their foes by a whopping 244-127 margin. That was a complete reversal from the previous season, when California was outscored by a 231-105 count in first halves. Cal was particularly lethal in first quarters last year, outscoring its opponents, 116-43.
Bears Ranked Among 2002 NCAA Leaders in TO Margin
The Bears were one of the nation's best in the all-important turnover department in 2002. During the year, Cal forced 36 turnovers and committed only 18 for a conference-leading TO margin of +18-the nation's third-best figure (+1.50 per game). In fact, that +18 figure was the school's best turnover margin since 1951, when Pappy Waldorf's 8-2 Bears finished with a +21 differential. The Bears lived on the other side of the turnover ledger in 2001, finishing 114th out of 115 Division I-A schools with a woeful -17 margin. The club's 36 takeaways (tied for 7th in the NCAA) last fall were 18 more than Cal managed in an 11-game slate the previous season. Included in that total were 21 fumble recoveries, second most in the nation. What's more, Cal scored no less than 121 points off turnovers last season.
Three Negative Streaks Came Crashing Down in 2002
Coach Tedford put an axe to more than the 2002 Big Game vs. Stanford. He led his Golden Bears to three victories last year that mercifully ended long losing streaks. The first win came in Seattle Oct. 5, as the Bears beat the Huskies, 34-27, to halt a 19-game losing streak to Washington that had spanned 26 years. Then on Nov. 9, Cal exorcised another demon when it snapped a 12-year victory drought in Tempe, Ariz. by thumping the Arizona State Sun Devils, 55-38. The Bears had previously dropped five straight at Sun Devil Stadium, all by blowout scores. And then in the 2002 season finale, Tedford's troops capped their remarkable turnaround season by scoring their first Big Game win (30-7) over Stanford in eight years.
'02 Bears Set Modern Day Mark with 427 Points Scored
Spewing out 35.6 points per game, Cal ranked second in scoring offense among Pac-10 teams - just behind USC's 35.8 ppg-and rated 10th nationally. Remarkably, Cal outscored its 2001 counterpart by 226 points, cashing in 53 touchdowns and 427 points in its 12 games. In comparison, the previous season's Cal squad tallied 24 TDs and 201 points total over an 11-game schedule and ranked 104th nationally in scoring average (18.3 ppg). The 427 points set the school's modern day record, eclipsing the 1991 club that tallied 406 points in 11 games. The Bears' 55-point outburst at Arizona State in Week 10 marked the first time Cal had scored 55 points or more twice in a season since 1922 (also 70 vs. Baylor).
Momentum Turf Installed in California Memorial Stadium
California Memorial Stadium celebrates its 81st season as Cal's home venue this fall. And the venerable old stadium will be featuring new playing surface, as Sportexe's Momentum Turf was installed this summer to replace natural grass. This marks the second time that Memorial Stadium has featured synthetic turf. The field was outfitted with Astroturf from 1981-94 before natural grass was installed prior to the 1995 season. The total project cost approximately $975,000 and was completely funded by private donations. Designed to maximize player speed and performance, Momentum Turf is Sportexe's premier sand and rubber infill surface. The turf's special mix of sand and granular rubber provides stability, traction and speed, simulating a perfect natural grass surface. The 73,347-seat stadium first opened with the 1923 Big Game between Cal and Stanford on Nov. 24, 1923 - a 9-0 Bear victory. In the ensuing years, Cal has compiled a 278-200-16 record in the stadium for a .578 winning percentage. With Strawberry Canyon to the east and a sweeping view of San Francisco Bay to the west, Sports Illustrated named Memorial Stadium the best place to watch college football in the country in 1997.
Cal 9th in 2002-03 Director's Cup Standings
On the strength of eight sports that finished ranked in the nation's Top 5 last year, Cal earned ninth-place-its highest finish ever-in the Director's Cup standings in 2002-03. It was the Golden Bears' fourth consecutive Top 20 finish among an NCAA Division 1-A field of 326 colleges. Cal's finish would have been even higher except that three teams, all of whom finished among the nation's top three last year - men's water polo, crew and rugby - did not count in the cup standings. In its overall history, Cal teams have captured 62 national team championships, including 19 in rugby, 14 in men's crew and 11 in men's water polo.
Cal Hall of Fame Adds 7 New Members in '03
Three football All-Americans, including the school's career rushing leader, Russell White, headline a list of seven former athletes who have been selected for induction into the California Athletic Hall of Fame this fall. Formal induction ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 24, and the group will be introduced at halftime of the Cal-Arizona football game Oct. 25.
Pac-10 is Truly the "Conference of Champions
Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pacific-10 Conference continues to uphold its tradition as the "Conference of Champions." Pac-10 members have claimed 73 NCAA titles over the past nine seasons, for an average of more than eight championships per academic year. Even more impressive is the breadth of the Pac-10's success, as those 73 crowns have come in 21 different men's and women's sports. The Pac-10 has led the nation in NCAA championships 38 of the last 43 years and finished second the other five times. Spanning nearly a century of outstanding achievement, the Pac-10 has captured 323 NCAA titles (243 men's, 82 women's) overall, far outdistancing the runner-up Big Ten Conference's 193 titles.
Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 28-8 record since the start of the 2000 season, as Oregon reeled off 11-1 and 10-2 marks in 2000 and '01 with Tedford serving as offensive coordinator, while Cal posted a 7-5 record in '02....Coincidence or not? Cal was 6-1 in games that were televised last year, 1-4 when there was no live TV....Kansas State features 31 seniors on its 2003 roster, while Cal has only 16 seniors returning....Although they blasted Baylor, 70-22, in their last meeting with a Big 12 Conference opponent last year, the Bears own a losing overall record (14-18-1) vs. Big 12 schools. They only hold a winning edge over Missouri (4-2-1), Kansas (3-2) and Iowa State (1-0)....Besides Pappy Waldorf, another football coach with both California and Kansas ties is Marv Levy, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Levy endured an 8-29-3 mark (.238) in four seasons as head coach at Cal from 1960-63 and later roamed the sidelines as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1978-82 (31-42-0 record). Levy went on to post a 123-78-0 ledger at Buffalo, leading the Bills to four Super Bowls....This season marks the 10-year anniversary of Keith Gilbertson's 9-4 Cal team that shellacked Iowa, 37-3, in the 1994 Alamo Bowl on New Year's Eve and finished ranked No. 25 nationally in the final Associated Press poll....It's also the 80th anniversary of Andy Smith's 9-0-1 Bear club which capped its season with a 9-0 win over Stanford in the first-ever game played at California Memorial Stadium in 1923....Kansas State scored two wins over Pac-10 schools last year, staving off a fourth-quarter Trojan rally to edge USC, 27-20, last September in Manhattan, and then surviving another late scare in the Holiday Bowl to defeat Arizona State, 34-27....K-State features two players on its roster who hail from Northern California: junior DB David Rose of Richmond, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies out of El Cerrito High School but opted to attend Contra Costa College; and junior tight end Lorne Clark of San Francisco, who was a 2001 teammate of Cal's Jonathan Makonnen on the City College of San Francisco's National JC Championship team....Notable Kansas State alumni: Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush; Erin Brockovich, environmental activist whom the hit movie, Erin Brockovich, was based on; and Kirstie Alley, actress of "Cheers" and "Veronica's Closet" fame.