Pac-12: Tree Sitters
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Missed this Monday but a lot of you have seemed intrigued by the group formerly known as the Tree Sitters outside Berkeley's Memorial Stadium.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Berkeley's infamous tree-sitters have been hit with a rude surprise since they came down to earth: Judges are socking them with thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees.
"Ironically, much of the money -- which could total more than $10,000 per sitter -- is going straight to the University of California, the very institution the tree-sitters were protesting as they tried to save a grove of trees outside Memorial Stadium."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Not to be too serious, but take a moment and remember what day it is.
- Arizona surely is sorry to hear the New Mexico QB is struggling.
- Arizona State's tight ends are playing OK, which is a bit of a surprise after significant attrition at the position. Here's a boost for the offensive line. Turns out the "Bring on Georgia" promotion wasn't a conspiracy from Atlanta. My wife loves Chick-fil-A, so consider this an apology.
- Maryland may not look good on film, but this is a long road trip for California. Let's hear it for the fullback, who brings out the Best in the Bears running game. For those interested in a review of how the Tree Sitters started sitting, here's a good read.
- Nice story on Oregon's "other" defensive end, Will Tukuafu, becoming the Ducks' emotional leader.
- What's wrong with the Oregon State defense?
- Stanford TE Jim Dray, back from a knee injury, could play against TCU.
- UCLA might be able to exploit BYU's secondary. Which Kevin Craft shows up at BYU to run the Bruins offense? Speaking of QBs, an update on Ben Olson. And might Moya be Craft's go-to guy?
- Hey, it's USC -- that means celebrities on the sidelines! DT Fili Moala likes Ohio State's physical style of play. A keyboard battle over the USC-Ohio State showdown. Spicer wants to spice things up.
- The good news is Washington safety Darin Harris is OK. The bad news is his concussion will sideline him for the Oklahoma game. Also in the story: RB Chris Polk is likely done for the year due to a shoulder injury but the freshman likely will qualify for a redshirt year. Where's the pass rush? Frosh TE Kavario Middleton is stepping up.
- Washington State is down, but LB Gary Trent is the sort of player who can bring the program back. Former coach Jim Walden asks for patience.
- Jon Wilner reacts to an Indianapolis Star report on "special admits" for football programs, of which California led the nation.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Your hump day links.
- The world's most ridiculous protest is over: The California Tree Sitters were forced from their seats. The Bears are happy. As for the football side of things, here are some notes.
- Arizona LB Sterling Lewis did a good job stepping in for Xavier Kelly (sprained ankle) and will start at New Mexico. The Reed brothers, Arizona's Brooks and New Mexico's Lucas, won't face off because Lucas is redshirting.
- Despite a couple of pass-interference flags, Arizona State CB Omar Bolden is going to play his style. The Sun Devils LBs are hurting. Is GameDay coming for the Georgia game? Also here.
- Oregon will be tested by Purdue QB Curtis Painter. RB Jeremiah Johnson returned to practice on a limited basis after injuring his shoulder. Scouting Purdue. Oregon has run well.
- No extreme depth chart changes for Oregon State in this full report from Mike Riley's press conference. It's time for the Beavers to play team defense.
- Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said that QB Tavita Pritchard remains his starter but other QBs will play against TCU Saturday, and that may include freshman Andrew Luck. So there's no QB controversy -- understand? A Stanford WR is unimpressed with one thing about TCU: its schedule.
- It appears that UCLA RB Kahlil Bell won't play at BYU. Yes, there is a little bit of a revenge angle for the Bruins, who are banged up. UCLA OC Norm Chow heads back to BYU.
- A view of USC from an Ohio columnist. And one from LA: Bill Plaschke thinks the Trojans should be plenty motivated by comments from an Ohio State WR about "class." RB Joe McKnight pretends to be OSU freshman QB Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State is playing for more than just a big-game win. Mark Sanchez feels good about his WRs.
- Washington LB E.J. Savannah is gone, granted his release from the Huskies. Unheralded freshman David Freeman takes over at RB. Art Thiel considers the plight of Jake Locker.
- Washington State will platoon QBs Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina, who has moved up the depth chart. It's not a QB controversy -- it's looking for a spark.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Happy College Football Eve!
- Judge rules for California: Is the Memorial Stadium showdown coming to a close? Hopefully the Tree Sitters will find a new valuable cause -- like maybe helping a human being.
- "Six or seven" true freshmen will make their Arizona debuts against Idaho. Good news for the punt team: All-Pac-10 pick Keenyn Crier is back after missing much of camp.
- An Arizona State walk-on may win a starting job at CB opposite Omar Bolden, who, by the way, wants to return kicks. Ryan McFoy adds speed to the Sun Devils LB corps. Here's a look at Northern Arizona.
- California coach Jeff Tedford praises how QB Nate Longshore has handled not winning the starting job as a senior. The Bears speak, and Tedford probably is there to listen because he's taking a more active role. Noting Tedford's press conference.
- Oregon's new backup QB, Jeremiah Masoli, will play against Washington, coming in as a counter-punch for starter Justin Roper. Story also updates the depth chart winners, including Spencer Paysinger at weakside LB. Making Bacon at inside LB. Expect the Ducks to try to run against the Huskies, considering they piled up a school-record 465 yards on the ground a year ago. Oregon notes include a suspended WR, and is touted JC DT Justin Thompson really on his way to Eugene?
- Your complete guide to Oregon State football, courtesy of The Oregonian. How about this rooting dilemma -- Booooo Dad! Got a feeling these Rodgers Brothers are going to be fun to watch. Beavers need a fast start to make a statement. Some further thoughts.
- Stanford is optimistic, but the injury bug has caught on of late. LB Clinton Snyder talks about the Cardinal D, and here's something on OL chemistry.
- The Rose Bowl will not be full Monday night, with only 65,000 expected for the UCLA-Tennessee tilt. More on the UCLA advertisement that touted the end of the LA football monopoly. What about this version? Can't we just realize that Neuheisel-Carroll is going to be fun? About that O-line. How the Bruins can beat Tennessee. Or is Neuheisel's optimism giving way to harsh reality? Vols coach Phil Fulmer on the UCLA game.
- USC QB Mark Sanchez struggles a bit in practice but then is cleared to play at Virginia. Aaron Corp has won the backup job over Mitch Mustain -- for now. It's national championship or bust, according to some.
- The Seattle Times looks at all things Washington. Nice story here about the return of Jordan White-
Frisbee, now an offensive guard. The Huskies are young in many spots, so why not at kick returner? Wonder what Jake Locker 2.0 will look like. No cupcakes on UW schedule.
- More on the departures of DT Andy Roof and OL Dan Rowlands at Washington State, the latter by choice, the former, not. Not a great day for the Cougars.
- Half-empty or half-full? Only one Pac-10 QB -- Washington State's Gary Rogers -- will be making his first start this week, and Rogers is a fifth-year senior who's seen significant action. On the other hand, only four have started seven or more games.
- There's a lot of money in college football. Dan Raley's first batch of Pac-10 notes. The Oregonian looks at the Pac-10. As does the LA Times.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Fourth in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-10 teams, starting from the top of our preseason Power Rankings and working down.
Up next: California
There were murmurs of discontent from a suddenly demanding California fan base when California coach Jeff Tedford named Nate Longshore his starting quarterback over Kevin Riley, but there were only boisterous cheers when Longshore led the Bears to a 41-10 victory over Michigan State at Memorial Stadium.
Even the Tree Sitters saluted the mistake-free day from Longshore, who completed 17 of 25 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. "Longshore was, like, wow, really great -- standing like a fearless oak in the pocket and, you know, throwing that ball and stuff," said a Tree Sitter who asked to be called Smelly Muffin. "Are you going to eat your fat?"
It wasn't just Longshore, though. The speedy backfield tandem of Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen combined for 238 total yards, with both lining up as slot receivers and at tailback.
The new 3-4 defense also proved salty, with the Bears linebackers dominating the action.
Any residual bad taste from 2007 collapse was left behind when the Bears improved to 4-0, winning on the road at Washington State and Maryland and drubbing Colorado State at home. That set up a home showdown with 16th ranked Arizona State, which had fallen just short of an upset of top-ranked Georgia two weeks before.
This time the defense saves the day, relentlessly blitzing quarterback Rudy Carpenter and confusing the Sun Devils inexperienced offensive line, forcing three turnovers while recording four sacks. Though he wasn't as sharp as he was in the opener, Longshore didn't try to force throws when given a short field, and Best busted away for TD runs of 33 and 19 yards in the hard-fought 24-20 win.
Following a bye, the Bears play flat at Arizona but escape 33-30 when Jordan Kay connects on a 45-yard field goal with less than a minute left.
After an easy win over UCLA, the Bears square off with No. 10 Oregon, which is coming off a nailbiting victory over Arizona State.
Cal jumps to a 13-10 lead, but right before halftime, Longshore sprains his ankle on a sack by Ducks end Nick Reed. Kevin Riley comes off the bench.
In the third quarter, the Ducks offense asserts itself. Riley plays well, showcasing the mobility that Longshore lacks, but a late drive falls short when a Jerome Boyd sack forces a fumble at the Oregon 27 with 1:30 left. The Ducks kill the clock and win 28-24.
There's no time for mourning, though, with a trip to USC ahead. The talk all week is whether Longshore will play, and whether that's a good thing, recalling his struggles when he's played hurt in the past.
Riley takes the field in the Coliseum but little goes his way. The Trojans roll 44-10 and stay unbeaten in the conference.
Tedford announces Monday that Longshore will start at Oregon State, and the senior turns in one of the best performances of his career, shredding the Beavers with four TD passes in a 35-20 victory.
Then Longshore earns his way permanently back into Bears fans' hearts, trashing Stanford in the Big Game, a win that prevents the Cardinal from becoming bowl-eligible. A 50-27 win over Washington concludes the season, and the Bears accept a Holiday Bowl invitation opposite No. 12 Texas Tech.
In weeks leading up to the game, Tedford relentlessly plays highlights of Cal's embarrassing 2004 Holiday Bowl loss to an inferior Texas Tech team when the Bears were unhappy about losing a deserved BCS bowl invitation.
It works. The Bears grab five interceptions from Red Raiders quarterback Graham Harrell and waltz to a 42-27 victory.
The Nobel Prize winners on the Berkeley campus vote to have Tedford's "Genius" status restored.
Kevin Riley earns the opening-day nod over Nate Longshore, and he's greeted by frenzied cheers as he leads the Bears to a workmanlike 27-17 victory over Michigan State. Riley's mobility proves a plus as he scrambles for 45 yards and throws a touchdown pass after eluding pressure.
Riley starts fast the following weekend at Washington State, at least until Cougars end Kevin Kooyman blindsides him, causing a fumble that Andy Mattingly returns for a game-turning touchdown.
Riley suffers a concussion on the play, and Longshore comes in off the bench. He struggles at first but appears to be leading a late rally. Then, on first-and-10 at the Cougars 12 with 1:05 left, his lob on a fade route comes up short, and the Devin Giles interception completes the 28-24 upset.
Most of the following week, Riley appears likely to regain his starting spot at Maryland, but Tedford opts to go with a healthy Longshore. Healthy? Longshore sprains his ankle in the first quarter. Riley comes off the bench, but a sack just before halftime leaves him groggy.
Enter freshman Brock Mansion, who proceeds to hand the ball to Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen 25 times in the second half, and the Bears escape with a 24-17 victory.
Mansion has little trouble doing the same in a blowout win over Colorado State, but the results are different against 16th-ranked Arizona State. The Sun Devils stack the box, forcing Mansion to throw, and that results in three interceptions. Meanwhile, Rudy Carpenter repeatedly beats the Bears' blitzes, connecting with Mike Jones for three TDs and the Sun Devils roll 38-17.
Riley returns for the visit to Arizona, and the Bears prevail in a 45-41 barnburner, with Riley scrambling for the game-winner with 34 seconds left. After dispatching UCLA, Oregon comes to town.
It doesn't go well for the Bears. Riley is erratic and the defense can't stop the Ducks. Longshore enters late in the third quarter and leads a 75-yard TD drive, but he then re-injures his ankle on a sack from Will Tukuafu.
Oregon wins 44-27. The following week at USC falls apart quickly. Riley's again knocked out of the game, and a late TD pass from Mansion only prevents a Trojans shutout in a 33-7 decision.
Things go from bad to worse in a torrential downpour at Oregon State. The Bears 3-4 defense suddenly springs a leak and yields 139 yards rushing to Ryan McCants.
After losing three in a row, Cal needs to win one of its final two games to avoid Tedford's first losing season.
It doesn't come in the Big Game, as Stanford wins its second consecutive Axe with a 20-17 victory that frustrates even the Tree Sitters. "I always knew they should have started Longshore," a man who asks to be called Penguin Underpants says.
Needing a victory over Washington to secure a sixth win and bowl-eligibility, Tedford decides his best chance is Best and Vereen. And the speedy backs come through, rushing for a combined 265 yards against the woeful Huskies defense.
A 28-27 victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl gives the Bears a two-game winning streak to end the season.
On Jan. 5, Tedford is hired to coach the San Francisco 49ers. John Mackovic is hired to replace him on Jan 13.
The Counting Crows release an album on Jan. 29 called "Mr. Jones, I can't freaking believe we hired John Mackovic."
On Feb. 4, Stanford's recruiting class is ranked 8th in the nation. The Bears, 43rd.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Welcome to Pac-10 Media Eve. Wonder what we'll find under the CoachSpeak Tree?
- It appears the Tree Sitters now must Stand and Walk Away -- California has won it's court case. Now, the question is: Will the appeals process further delay the building of the $140 million athletic training center? And are all these complications making coach Jeff Tedford's eyes wander?
- The news at UCLA: The school confirms strong safety Bret Lockett's suspension for the season-opener against Tennessee and also announces that reserve tailback Christian Ramirez is academically ineligible.
- Oregon begins the healing process after the drowning death of defensive back Todd Doxey. Bet some of these guys have never looked forward so much to two-a-days.
- Quick update here on Oregon State QB Sean Canfield's shoulder. Sounds like there's some work ahead as he prepares to challenge Lyle Moevao and regain his starting job.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Molly Yanity checks in with Jake Locker, who explained, among other things, why so few players were at the workout Yanity attended this week. Locker then turned the water Yanity was drinking into Gatorade... and when Yanity protested that she liked water better, he changed it back. True story.
- Meanwhile, The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta reports on a radio interview with Huskies offensive coordinator Tim Lappano, who taught Locker that trick. Lappano talks about the Huskies lack of recruiting commitments and need to win now.
- The new and improved Orange County Register USC blog has been ranking the Pete Carroll years. Which is No. 1? So many choices!
- Meanwhile, over on the UCLA side of things: Bruins Nation is engaging in some local media criticism. More here.
- Oregon is starting an official blog. And Andy McNamara sure gets a better graphic and photo deal than I did. My bosses, by the way, air-brushed my image to make me uglier and more football-writer-ish.
- Do you dream of Pac-10 expansion? Dan Zeiger says you should stop.
- One fellow's take on the top 10 Heisman blunders of all-time, complete with who should have won.
- John McCain believes in Arizona State (thanks to Pitchfork Nation).
- The Wizard of Odds, Tom Kirkendall and Google Earth take us on a tour of Pac-10 stadiums.