***Note: I found Cal’s over/under win total at the Venetian — I’m looking at the sheet right now. And it’s not for conference wins only. I know this because the posted total for USC is 10.5. Also, for those questioning my sanity on the comment boards below: There’s no chance Cal would have a conference-only win total of 5.5. To draw action on the over (ie: 6-2 or better in Pac-10 play), the casinos would have to offer plus-150 or so. Meet a buddy on The Strip last weekend for a 17-hour commando raid (in at 3 p.m., out at 8 a.m.). I spent most of the time playing craps — $5 tables only — but made sure to wander through a few sports books. I’m always curious to see what the oddsmakers and the betting public project for the college football season. So I grabbed two “futures” sheets. One listed the odds to win the 2009 BCS title game, and I’ll post something on that in a few days. The other was for regular-season win … [Read more...] about Best bet in Las Vegas: The University of California Golden Bears (updated)
Early last week, the Merc published a series of stories detailing Cal’s attempt to finance the renovation of Memorial Stadium and the construction of the high-performance training center. I researched and wrote the stories over a period of several weeks, then published each on the Hotline. (The main story provides an overview of the situation. There are also three sidebars.) As noted at the time, the Bears have been extraordinarily transparent about the financing process, including the shortfalls and miscalculations. Because Cal is a public university, the vast majority of the information used in the series could have been acquired with a formal request for public records (i.e., Freedom of Information Act request). But I didn’t need to go there; school officials answered all my questions and, if you’re interested, have published much of the relevant data on the Cal athletics website. In the interest of reciprocal transparency, I wanted to make sure readers are aware … [Read more...] about Cal athletics: Bears respond to stadium series
I’m in the Husky Stadium press box, following the Cal game on ESPN Gamecast and Jonathan Okanes’ blog. It’s 28-0 Oregon State at halftime and impossible to imagine the Bears rallying to win under any circumstances, much less with a backup quarterback in the game. (It appears Kevin Riley’s knee injury is serious enough that he won’t return.) Couple very quick thoughts: * Riley’s injury makes it easy to rationalize the dreadful performance, but I’m not sure that would be a wholly accurate approach. It’s contributing to the mess, for sure. But Cal’s defense was getting carved up (again) before Riley’s injury had an impact on the game. Yes, the Beavers’ first scoring drive was a fairly short field, the result of a three-and-out by the Bears. But the second one was 76 yards: Quizz, Quizz and some more Quizz, with a dash of Markus Wheaton. (At halftime, OSU has 181 yards on the ground.) * Cal’s penalties have been … [Read more...] about Cal football: Bears headed for another beat down
Wanted to throw this up quickly before the Selection Show (note: the timestamp should say 2:48; it hasn’t been update to PDT) … CBS’s Seth Davis and ESPN’s Jay Bilas are two of the talking heads who think Cal’s out of the tournament, which tells you something about the perception of the Pac-10 this season. I think the Bears are in. As I wrote last week: Despite winning the Pac-10 regular season title, they’d have been squarely on the bubble had they lost to Stanford and then lost in the Pac-10 quarters. (Contrary to popular thinking, winning the Pac-10 regular-season title by no means makes you a lock for the NCAAs.) But the Bears took care of business and should make it. Would I be shocked if they didn’t? Mildly surprised, perhaps, but not shocked because their best non-conference win is over Murray State and a high SOS alone doesn’t warrant inclusion. But Davis and Bilas and others seem to think Cal’s definitely out, which creates … [Read more...] about Cal basketball: Could the Bears get left out of the NCAAs?
I’m not about to suggest that Vereen is more talented than best or a better playmaker. Or that he should have been playing ahead of Best when No. 4 was healthy. But after watching two all-Vereen, all-the-time performances, I do wonder whether Cal’s offense is more effective with him playing full time. I know – crazy talk! But here’s how it looks from the Hotline perspective: Vereen runs straight ahead more often than Best and he runs between the tackles better than Best – he has a little Jacquizz Rodgers in him (a small back who runs with power). And it sure seems that for the cal offense as currently composed, a steady between-the-tackles runner is what’s needed. If Cal had a high-precision passing game and could more the ball effectively five- or seven-yards or 11 yards at a time, maybe I’d feel differently. But the Cal aerial attack is a high-risk, inconsistent entity. It’s not like Kevin Riley throws guided missiles all day – … [Read more...] about Cal football: Are the Bears better with Vereen?