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It wasn't that long ago that Stefan McClure was a budding star. He looked like a strong candidate to continue Cal's legacy of elite cornerbacks, following recent stars such as Daymeion Hughes and Syd'Quan Thompson.
Just four games into his college career in 2011, McClure suddenly found himself on college football's biggest stage when he was forced into a prominent role during a nationally televised Thursday night game at Oregon because of an injury to starter Marc Anthony. The following week, McClure had to match up against USC All-American receiver Robert Woods and was largely responsible for holding him to his second-lowest output of the season (5 catches, 36 yards).
It had Cal fans fantasizing about the lock-down corner McClure could potentially become.
Anthony returned from his injury and McClure spent most of the rest of his freshman season as a backup, but his time would come.
Unfortunately, his time has been delayed.
In the regular-season finale during his freshman year against Arizona State, McClure was running down field on the kickoff coverage team and planted his foot to cut. His foot slipped slightly and his knee buckled.
It was the worst possible result. McClure had a torn anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus.
"At first, I didn't know how serious it was," said McClure, who is close to being fully healthy again and going through spring practices with the Bears. "I thought I just dislocated my kneecap; nothing serious that would require surgery. But when I got into the locker room, I realized it was a little more severe than I thought."
The original prognosis had McClure returning in 6-9 months, meaning he would be good to go for the start of the 2012 season. But it was later determined he would need microfracture surgery. That put him out of the 2012 season completely.
"It drives you crazy," McClure said. "All the hits and collisions I've been involved in, and to do it just running on special teams. It's the nature of the beast. I'm just glad that I could come back."
So are the Bears. With Anthony and fellow starter Steve Williams now gone, Cal hopes McClure can continue what he started in 2011 before the injury.
"After seeing him the first seven, eight, nine days, I think he's back full-go from his injury," Cal defensive backs coach Randy Stewart said. "There are no lingering effects. It's not going to inhibit his ability."
The injury was even harder for McClure to swallow because his performance as a true freshman had him set up nicely to become even more of a factor in 2012.
"It makes it that much harder because I had a chance to contribute even more," he said. "There would have been tremendous growth from my freshman to sophomore year. It's just a blessing to be back out here. There's still going to be growth. I have to get bigger, stronger, faster. It will still be good to see that growth from my freshman year."
McClure says he feels about 90 percent healthy. But we're just in the spring. With the whole summer and fall camp to continue to get healthy and sharp, it looks as though he will be in position to be an impact player for the Bears in 2013.
"Missing so much time, that fire is just burning that much more to just get back out there and show you can play at this level and you can compete," McClure said. "I've been out for awhile and there are new guys here that don't even know if I can play. I'm out here proving myself to a lot of people, to get back better to what I was before."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Kline threw a deep pass down the middle of the field that connected perfectly in stride with sophomore wide receiver Bryce Treggs.
A crowd of a few hundred fans voiced their approval.
A fresh dynamic under new head football coach Sonny Dykes is that spring workouts are open to the public. Passionate Cal fans came to Memorial Stadium on Monday evening to watch the first spring practice of 2013, and were treated to an action-packed, enthusiastic practice.
"I thought the turnout was good," Dykes said after completing his first practice as Cal's coach. "I think our players are energized when people come out and watch practice. Hopefully, everybody liked what they saw."
Moments later, junior quarterback Austin Hinder delivered a touchdown pass to wide receiver Drake Whitehurst, drawing another positive reaction from the crowd.
"It made it more fun," Hinder said. "I thought it was more live. You look up there and you have the fans getting into your throws. It makes it fun. That makes you want to do it again. Now people can come and have fun."
Fans, players and coaches braved a chilly evening at the end of February, one that Dykes was pleased with afterward. Cal's players are learning an entirely new system, so Dykes acknowledged there will be some mistakes. But for a first practice, it was encouraging.
"I was pleasantly surprised," Dykes said. "I thought the energy was good. The attitude was good. There are going to be a million mistakes, but for the first day, I thought it was good. I was really pleased."
There will be a new starting quarterback behind center for the Bears in 2013 after the departure of two-year starter Zach Maynard. Monday, Kline, Hinder and senior Allan Bridgford took all of the reps, but Dykes said others, such as sophomore Kyle Boehm and true freshman Jared Goff, will get reps during Cal's next practice session on Wednesday.
"All I know is all these guys are studs," Kline said. "I'm just trying to compete and do my best. It's going to be a huge battle, that's for sure. It's going to be an interesting spring."
Football coach Sonny Dykes held a pre-spring practice press conference Wednesday at the Simpson Center, an informal gathering with pizza and about 10 reporters. While Dykes carefully picked all the veggies he could off his pizza slice, he answered several questions from the assembled press. Spring practice begins Monday. Here's a sampling:
On the team's attitude heading into spring ball: "The biggest thing I've seen is how hungry the guys are. They've been hard-working. They have been spirited. They've been real positive. That's been the biggest surprise for me in some ways, just based on having a rough year and maybe the perceived notion of the program in some ways. I think the guys are hard-working. I think they've really kind of embraced our style up to this point. It's easy to do that on the front end like they've done, but they've done a great job of doing everything we've asked them to do. I've really been pleasantly surprised with all that. In that regard, I think we're way ahead of schedule."
On the team attending the men's basketball game against UCLA last week: "I think we'll continue to do that kind of stuff. I'm a big believer in the whole team concept. I'm a big believer of student-athletes being part of the regular student-body. I think that's something that we have to encourage our players to be, involved on campus - whether it's sporting events or whatever else is out there available to those guys to be supportive of. So many people support them, coming to football games and cheering and doing that kind of thing. I think that's part of being a good person and being part of a good student, is embracing the whole 'all or one, and one for all' idea. The guys had a blast. They were excited to do it. I think they had more fun than they thought they were going to have. I think they've been pleasantly surprised, just like I have been, by the positive response that it generated -- because it's really not that big of a deal."
On what he's seen from the team so far: "The overall athleticism of the team is much better than I anticipated it would be. But just because you're a good athlete doesn't mean you're a good football player. That's what we need to find out starting on Monday, how well that athleticism translates to being a good player."
On whether there's a timeline for naming a starting quarterback: "I'd love to have a starter after Monday. That would be ideal. One of the guys is so good that everybody goes 'wow.' But I don't anticipate that happening. The sooner the better. Reps at the quarterback spot are the most valuable commodity there is. We have to get whoever the starter is going to be as many reps and as well-prepared as we possibly can."
On what he is looking for in a quarterback: "Timing, accuracy, leadership, ability to inspire confidence of others - that's probably the most important thing a quarterback can bring."
One day after the two-month anniversary of his hiring at Cal, Sonny Dykes experienced the first major rite of passage as the Bears' head football coach.
Make no mistake. Dykes has been busy since he inherited Cal's program on Dec. 5. He's assembled his coaching staff, immersed himself in recruiting and started connecting with the campus community.
But Wednesday afforded Dykes the opportunity to make his biggest mark yet on his stewardship in Berkeley with National Signing Day. And he did just that by inking 25 players that is considered a consensus top-30 class nationally, an impressive achievement for a head coach that took over a program so late in the recruiting calendar.
"You have to get that first recruiting class signed," Dykes said during an interview in his office as Signing Day wound down. "I feel good about what we did and what we accomplished. The thing I'm proud of is we added good people to our program and we added players that will be here and be productive for a long time."
There was an early-morning buzz at the Cal football offices Wednesday as the coaching staff and assembled support staff fulfilled their Signing Day duties. Dykes was in his office by 4:30 a.m., and the first National Letter of Intent came across the fax machine at 5:07 a.m. That belonged to defensive tackle Jacobi Hunter of Houston. At 5:29 a.m., the Bears received a fax from fellow Texan Chad Whitener, a linebacker from Mansield.
"And then somebody showed up with some doughnuts," Dykes said.
Shortly past 7 a.m., the fax machine set up temporarily in the football conference room was consistently humming. By just after 9:30 a.m., the class was complete. In between, hoots and hollers could be heard from the coaching staff meeting in the conference room as different faxes made their way across the machine.
"You never know. You're always worried somebody getting a late-night phone call or an early-morning phone call," Dykes said. "We were trying to hold off some schools on a couple of kids. It's a relief when you get the fax because it's an incredible amount of time and effort invested in these guys. It's good to see it go your way."
Since Dykes and his staff got a late start recruiting the 2013 class, they figured there was no time like the present to look ahead to 2014. After the last fax arrived, the staff started looking at film of high school juniors and got on the phone with coaches and athletes with an eye on the future.
"That's the nature of recruiting. It never stops," Dykes said.
At 1 p.m., Dykes began the media portion of his day. He went downstairs to the Tahir Family Team Theater for his Signing Day press conference, where he fielded questions from the press and narrated a video compilation of all 25 of Cal's new players. Then it was off to do radio interviews with KNBR 680 AM and 95.7 The Game, television interviews with the Pac-12 Networks and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and a live chat with fans on calbears.com.
"It's easy to talk about this class because I'm excited about this group," Dykes said. "I really like these guys. I think they're going to be very successful."
Finally, in the evening, Dykes ventured over to the University Club for a Signing Day reception with donors, followed by a season-ticket holder event in the Field Club.
"It's always fun to see Cal supporters," Dykes said. "It's a great bunch; so many nice people. It's fun because I'm actually getting to start to know some of them. I look forward to getting to know them even better."
Dykes plans on being back in the office early Thursday morning. He and the staff will continue preparations for spring practice and to recruit for 2014. When the Bears take the Memorial Stadium field for their first spring session on Feb. 25, it will be another benchmark in the Sonny Dykes era. You can tell he was pretty happy with the first one.
"It's been a hectic day," Dykes said. "It's good to have this behind us. It's an exciting day, but there is a lot of work involved. It's a relief to get these guys signed. The thing I'm always impressed with is how much interest there is in our program and I'm just excited about the future as we continue to build."
For coverage throughout the day, check out our special Signing Day blog here:
All Signing Day blog coverage will appear at the above link throughout the rest of the day.
Welcome to Signing Day, 2013! Stay tuned throughout the day for thorough coverage, including updates on the arrival of letters and a behind-the-scenes look at the football offices throughout the day.
Five former Cal football players are on the NFC roster for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Honolulu -- tied for fourth among all college programs being represented in the game.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Washington Redskins special-teamer Lorenzo Alexander and safety Thomas DeCoud and tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons all made the roster for the NFC. Rodgers and Gonzalez will sit out the game because of injuries.
Georgia, Miami and Tennessee lead with six alumni on Pro Bowl rosters. Cal is tied with Texas for fourth.
Cal announced its 2013 football schedule Thursday, and one of the highlights is the fact that the Big Game is moving back to the end of the season.
Because of television commitments and scheduling changes necessitated to create bye weeks, the Big Game has been played at different points throughout the season in recent years. But in 2013, the Bears will close out the regular season with their annual showdown with rival Stanford on November 23 at Stanford Stadium.
The season opens with three straight home games -- vs. Northwestern, vs. Portland State and vs. Ohio State. The Buckeyes went 12-0 this season and finished ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press top 25. Northwestern also had a fine season, going 10-3 and winding up as the nation's No. 17 team.
Cal will face a stiff test immediately in Pac-12 play, as the Bears travel to Oregon to open the conference season. Cal plays Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona and USC at Memorial Stadium; Oregon, UCLA, Washington, Colorado and Stanford on the road.The two teams the Bears don't play from the Pac-12 South this season are Arizona State and Utah.
The Pac-12 Championship Game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The full schedule is below:
2013 CAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Day, Date - Opponent
Sat., Aug. 31 - Northwestern
Sat., Sept. 7 - Portland State
Sat., Sept. 14 - Ohio State
*Sat., Sept. 28 - at Oregon
*#Sat., Oct. 5 - Washington State
*Sat., Oct. 12 - at UCLA
*Sat., Oct. 19 - Oregon State
*Sat., Oct. 26 - at Washington
*Sat., Nov. 2 - Arizona
*^Sat., Nov. 9 - USC
*Sat., Nov. 16 - at Colorado
*Sat., Nov. 23 - at Stanford
!Sat., Dec. 7 - Pac-12 Championship Game (ESPN or ABC)
Home Games in Bold at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA; *Pac-12 Game; !Pac-12 Championship Game at Home Site of Pac-12 Regular-Season Champion; #Homecoming; ^Joe Roth Game; All Times and Television Selections to be Announced at Later Dates
Another men's basketball season is upon us. About 15 minutes from now, the Bears kick off the 2012-13 season against Cal State Bakersfield at Haas Pavilion. Cal begins its quest to make the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in Mike Montgomery's five years as coach.
Ducks wrap up a 59-17 victory. Cal played Oregon extremely tough for a half and then some, closing to 24-17 early in the third quarter. But the Ducks showed why they have the No. 1 scoring offense in the country in the second half.
Cal RB Isi Sofele rushed for a season-high 134 yards and a touchdown. He also had the two longest runs against Oregon this season -- 35 and 31 yards.
Cal's defense held Heisman Trophy candidate Kenjon Barner to 73 yards on 20 carries and limited Oregon's potent running game to just 180 yards on 48 carries. But the Ducks had 395 yards passing, as quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for six touchdowns.
The Bears now have one regular season game left, next Saturday night at Oregon State.
Oregon leads 38-17 at the end of the third quarter. Isi Sofele has rushed for a season-high 132 yards and a touchdown for the Bears. Quarterback Allan Bridgford, playing for injured starter Zach Maynard, has completed 9 of 20 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Fantastic start to second half for the Bears. Cal stops Oregon on fourth down and then drives 76 yards for touchdown to make it 24-17. Isi Sofele runs it in from four yards out for his third TD of the season. Sofele now has a season-high 118 yards.
Total yards: Oregon 287, Cal 193.
First downs: Oregon 16, Cal 12
Rushing: Sofele 8-64.
Passing: Bridgford 7-12-0 87, 1 TD
Receiving: Harper 2-35.
Tackles: Forbes 8.
Ca has tied the game at 7-7 with 8:04 remaining in the first half on the first career touchdown pass by Allan Bridgford and first career TD catch by Darius Powe. Powe got wide open in the left back corner of the end zone and Bridgford found him easily for a 10-yard strike.
The seniors being honored tonight are running back C.J. Anderson, cornerback Marc Anthony, wide receiver Ross Bostock, defensive back Tyre' Ellison, offenisve lineman Dominic Galas, defensive back Josh Hill, linebacker J.P. Hurrell, linebacker Kaulin Krebs, wide receiver Kameron Krebs, running back Mike Manuel, quarterback Zach Maynard, linebacker Robert Mullins, nose tackle Kendrick Payne, offensive lineman Tyler Rigsbee, center Brian Scwhenke, running back Isi Sofele, fullback Eric Stevens, offensive lineman Matt Summers-Gavin and nose tackle Aaron Tipoti.
The Pac-12 announced today that the football game at Utah on Oct. 27 will begin at 6:45 PT and air on the Pac-12 Networks.
Yes, we know it's still only October, but The Big Game is here! The Bears host Stanford at Memorial Stadium on Saturday at Noon.
Click here for a list of Big Game events this week.
Anyone who follows Cal Athletics on an even casual basis knows that football coach Jeff Tedford discovered quarterback Aaron Rodgers only after recruiting tight end Garrett Cross at Butte College in Chico.
What people might not know is that, in his own way, Cross helped recruit Rodgers to Cal as well.
When Tedford visited Chico to watch Cross in person, he already knew all about Rodgers. That's because when Cross sent Cal a highlight tape of his play, he made sure to include the best highlights of Rodgers as well.
"They asked for some tape, and I put in a couple of game films where I didn't have that great of a game, but Aaron had a phenomenal game," Cross said during Saturday's win over No. 25 UCLA, in which he participated in the rededication of Memorial Stadium. "The one game in particular was when we played Fresno City College. I had one touchdown but Aaron threw for five. Sure enough, they called and asked about him."
The rest is the proverbial history. Rodgers and Cross both came to Cal and helped the Bears to a special season in 2004, when they went 10-1 and were ranked No. 4 in the country before losing to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
Cross said there was enough on the game tapes he sent to Cal to showcase his skills, but he wanted to make sure Rodgers, a fellow Chico native, was seen at the same time.
Shortly after sending the tape, Cross received a phone call from then-Cal tight ends coach Dave Ungerer.
"Coach Ungerer went through the formalities, asking me about school and my family. Then he said, "Hey, who's your quarterback?'" Cross said. "I knew the question was coming. I was just sitting there smiling. He asked me if Aaron was a freshman or a sophomore. I said, 'He's a freshman, but he's not going to be around next year. Somebody is going to snag him up.'"
While Rodgers has carved his own meaningful path as an NFL superstar with the Green Bay Packers, Cross has done the same serving his country. Cross, who had a brief stint with the Packers after leaving Cal, is an infantry officer with the 2nd battalion, 5th Marines from Camp Pendleton in Southern California. When Cross appeared at Saturday's game, he had only been back in the U.S. less than two months after a six-month deployment in Musaqua'la, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Cross also returned home in time to be with his wife, Kim, for the birth of his first child, Mason Sean Cross.
"When I left, my wife looked like she always does. When I got back, she was nine months pregnant," Cross said. "We had a little time to relax and have fun. Then she went into labor and Mason was born. I was off work for about a month so was able to spend a lot of time with my family and son, and just be with my family."
Cross has been part of two deployments in the Marines. The first was part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit in Southeast Asia in which he was stationed on a Navy ship with the purpose of reacting to any potential conflict. The second deployment took him to Afghanistan, where he was part of a team that trained and advised the Afghan National Police.
Cross said last weekend marked the first time he has spent any extensive time at Cal since his playing days were over.
"The first thing I did was go down Telegraph Ave.," Cross said. "I had to pick up some tickets at Haas Pavilion so I just walked around. Bancroft and Telegraph was incredible."
Cross said Saturday's game reminded him of a night game he played against UCLA in 2004 in which he made a diving catch that became a "Top Ten" play on ESPN's SportsCenter. The Bears won big that night, one week after a heartbreaking loss in a heralded game at USC.
"Being back here at the stadium is incredible," Cross said. "Seeing what they've done with the stadium is remarkable. The special thing was just being down on the field and hearing the crowd. It brought back so many memories."
Cal defensive back Kameron Jackson speaks at today's weekly press conference
Cal tight end Richard Rodgers speaks at today's weekly press conference
Cal defensive back Kameron Jackson and quarterback Zach Maynard have been nominated for national awards for their performances against UCLA on Saturday, and fans can vote to help them win.
Jackson, who today was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting three passes during a 43-17 win over the Bruins, has also been nominated for the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Pac-12 Player of the Week. Maynard, who was 25-for-30 for 295 yards and four touchdowns and also added a rushing touchdown, is one of eight quarterbacks selected as a Manning Award Star of the Week.
Fans can vote for Jackson on the official Facebook page of the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl by clicking here. The deadline to vote is Noon PT on Wednesday
Fans can vote for Maynard on the official Facebook page of the Allstate Sugar Bowl by clicking here. The deadline to vote is 9 a.m. PT on Thursday.
The Pac-12 announced today that this year's Big Game between Cal and Stanford on Oct. 20 at Memorial Stadium will air at Noon and be televised nationally by Fox.
Meet Richard Rodgers, Keenan Allen's new best friend.
Check that. Meet a healthy Richard Rodgers. That's a welcome development for Allen and the rest of Cal's offense.
Rodgers, finally healed from a foot injury, exhibited just what he can do for the Bears' offense Saturday night during a 43-17 rout of No. 25 UCLA. Rodgers caught seven passes for 129 yards, drawing the attention of the Bruins' defense and thus diverting at least some of the attention away from Allen, Cal's All-American wide receiver. Allen, benefitting from the presence of Rodgers, led the Bears with eight catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
"They double Keenan a lot and now they have to account for Rich," said Cal quarterback Zach Maynard, who was an efficient 25-for-30 for 295 yards and four touchdowns. "He can make plays out there. He was huge out there tonight. He played strong and physical and that's what we needed this week."
The Bears have expected much of Rodgers since he arrived in Berkeley last season, the son of Richard Rodgers Sr., who was best remembered for his role in "The Play" during the Big Game against Stanford in 1982. Cal coach Jeff Tedford has said Rodgers has the potential to be the best tight end in the country.
Rodgers played primarily special teams as a true freshman last season and had been limited this season because of the foot. He entered Saturday with just three catches for 28 yards on the season.
But it was obvious from the outset Saturday that Rodgers would be a big part of the offensive game plan. Two of Maynard's first three completions were to Rodgers.
"It was nice to see him running full speed tonight," Tedford said. "That's more of what you expect from him because he's a very good player, but he's been injured all season. He's finally back. It gives us one more weapon to be able to use on offense."
The highlight of Rodgers' night came early in the fourth quarter when he broke free down the field on a post pattern and Maynard found him for a 50-yard gain.
"My foot is definitely feeling better," Rodgers said. "I wouldn't say I am 100 percent, but whatever I can do for the team to help us, I'm going to do. That's what I did tonight, contributing in the pass game."
An all-around great night for the Bears. Cal wins 43-17. Bears forced six turnovers. Zach Maynard was 25-for-30 for 295 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. He also rushed for a touchdown. Tight end Richard Rodgers, finally healthy, caught seven passes for 129 yards. Kam Jackson recorded three interceptions. Cal is now 2-4, 1-2 in the Pac-12. Next up: At Washington State next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Zach Maynard scores on a 1-yard run and Cal now leads 36-17 with 6:32 remaining. Maynard now has four TD passes and one TD run. UCLA has committed five turnovers.
After a 50-yard completion, tight end Richard Rodgers now has seven catches for 129 yards.
UCLA has cut Cal's advantage to 29-17 on a 29-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn with 14:31 left in the game.
Cal and UCLA have exchanged touchdowns. UCLA scored on a 3-yard pass from Brett Hundley to Joseph Fauria, but the Bears answered on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Zach Maynard to Keenan Allen. After having the PAT blocked again, the Bears lead 29-14.
Cal now in front 23-7 after 32-yard touchdown pass from Zach Maynard to Brendan Bigelow. Bigelow displaying impressive burst of speed after the catch.
Time of possession: Cal 17:17, UCLA 12:43.
Total offense: Cal 205, UCLA 177
Turnovers: Cal 1, UCLA 3
Richard Rodgers: 5 catches, 74 yards.
Cal is now up 16-7 after Zach Maynard throws 8-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen. PAT was blocked.
End of the first quarter with UCLA leading 7-3. Cal dominated the time of possession in the period, holding on to the ball for 10:53. Bears also doubled Bruins in the amount of offensive plays ran, 24-12.
Cal gets on the board on a 26-yard field goal by Vince D'Amato. FG ends 16-play, 66-yard drive.
UCLA has taken a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Hundley to Cassius Marsh.
Cal's captains tonight are center Brian Schwenke, wide receiver Keenan Allen, defensive back Michael Lowe and defensive back Josh Hill.
Both teams are warming up on the field with about 30 minutes to go before kickoff. Cal is going with the gold jerseys and blue pants tonight.
Tonight's halftime festivities should provide some memorable moments. Memorial Stadium will be rededicated with a stadium-wide card stunt. The card stunt is a long Memorial Stadium tradition, originally instituted by Cal's student section. The first card stunt took place in 1910 during a rugby match between Cal and Stanford.
While the original inscription that dedicated the opening of the stadium in 1923 still exists in the north tunnel -- "In memory of Californians who gave their lives in the World War 1914-1918" -- a new message will be revealed tonight on the opposite wall of the tunnel: "In memory of all Californians who have sacrificed their lives in service to our nation."
Also at halftime, Cal and UCLA's band will join forces for a performance and a large American flag will be unveiled that spans the length of the field. There will then be a rededication ceremony that will feature comments by athletic director Sandy Barbour, Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. Additional guests from the U.S. Armed Forces include Maj. Gen. Angela Salina of the U.S. Marine Corps, Rear Admiral John F. Weigold of the U.S. Navy and California Secretary of Veteran Affairs Peter Gravetet.
Another special guest is former Cal tight end Garrett Cross, who is now an infantry officer with the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines out of Camp Pendleton, California. Cross recently returned from deployment in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan to be home in time to be with his wife, Kim, for the birth of their first child, Mason Sean Cross.
We have about two hours until kickoff at Memorial Stadium as the Bears host No. 25 UCLA tonight . It's a gorgeous early evening here in Berkeley with a nice breeze. Sure to get a little cooler later so bring those jackets or cardigans.
Stay tuned pregame and throughout the evening for updates!
Linebacker Dan Camporeale spoke at today's weekly press conference.
Football coach Jeff Tedford spoke at today's weekly press conference, looking back at last week's loss to Arizona State and ahead to this Saturday's game against UCLA.
The Pac-12 has announced that Cal's football game at Washington State on Oct. 13 will begin at 7:30 p.m. and air on the Pac-12 Networks.
Cal kicker Vince D'Amato speaks at Tuesday's weekly press conference.
Cal cornerback Steve Williams speaks at Tuesday's weekly press conference.
The Pac-12 announced today that Cal's homecoming game against UCLA on Oct. 6 will begin at 7 p.m. and air on the Pac-12 Networks.
The Pac-12 office has announced Cal's home football game against Arizona State will begin at 1 p.m. and air on FX.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford talks about Saturday's game at Ohio State during his weekly press conference Tuesday.
Cal linebacker Robert Mullins talks about Saturday's game at No. 12 Ohio State at Tuesday's weekly press conference.
Former Cal star wide receiver DeSean Jackson is making an impact on his community in Philadelphia. Click here to read about Jackson's contribution to our country's service personnel.
The Pac-12 announced today that Cal's football game at USC on Sept. 22 will begin at 3 p.m. and air on the Pac-12 Networks.
I composed this blog entry while flying to Honolulu, joined by the Cal women's volleyball team and staff for a tournament this weekend at the University of Hawaii.
And as much as I am looking forward to slopping on an embarrassingly amount of sunscreen and pretending to look cool at the beach, part of me will be thinking of Memorial Stadium on Saturday. As a former Cal football beat writer for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, I have spent a lot of time in that facility. Most of it was spent attempting not to trip over loose, rotting benches or dodging the rats that would come out at night while a few over-committed writers polished off their stories in the venerable press box (Venerable = old and rundown).
I have made the switch from covering Cal athletics for a major daily newspaper to promoting Cal athletics to the public in my new role as Assistant Athletic Communications Director in the school's athletic department. Recently, I participated in a "dress rehearsal" to test out all of the gameday activities that will take place during home games at the renovated Memorial Stadium, which opens Saturday against Nevada. Fans coming to Strawberry Canyon will notice striking changes to the ...ahem....venerable stadium, most noticeably in the facility's interior.
While the bowl and the field themselves look different - new chairback seats on the west side, two brand new video boards, raised seating to improve sight lines - the contrast to the pre-renovated stadium is even more striking inside - most notably, the concourse. No longer will fans have to weather forearm shivers to get from Point A to Point B as they travel to and from their seats. The main concourse is at least three times as wide, giving it an open, spacious feel.
The concession stands have been upgraded, with better choices and fresher food. The snack bars now have their own kitchens, whereas before the hot food had to be transported to the stadium from somewhere offsite. And there will be Top Dog - enough said.
And let's not forget the upgrade in bathrooms. The amount of toilets has increased exponentially, and they have been modernized for a sharp, clean feel.
Cal's football offices used to be located along the concourse of the stadium, and the only bathrooms staff members could use were the same ones in the concourses patronized by fans during games. Coach Jeff Tedford, who is known to burn the midnight oil in his office quite regularly, used to joke that he'd have to dodge the raccoons running around the concourse just to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
So as I take in an occasional hula dance this weekend, at least part of me will be thinking about the opening of that special stadium, one that isn't too venerable anymore.
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