Trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the A’s have strengthened their pitching and improved their offense through free agency and trades. If that sounds familiar ... well, it worked for the Giants, didn’t it?To win the AL West, the A’s have to win 10 more games than the 81 they managed last year. That’s quite possible. The 2010 division-winning Texas Rangers are weaker, with the loss of pitcher Cliff Lee more than outweighing the addition of Adrian Beltre. The Los Angeles Angels have done nothing to improve. Read More
The cuts in the Cal intercollegiate sports program can be traced to two factors: 1) The increasing costs in football; and 2) The effects of Title IX.
And, to make my position clear, I love college football and I’ve supported Title IX since its inception, at a time when that position was very unpopular with my male colleagues.
The model for years was that a successful football program could pay for the other sports, but that’s no longer true. Read More
The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl despite losing star receiver Donald Driver (high ankle sprain) and cornerback Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) in the first half.This was nothing new to the Packers, who lost 16 players, including six starters, to injured reserve during the season. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers had two concussions during the season. Read More
Cal football coach Jeff Tedford has been making sweeping changes in his coaching staff, trying to rebound from his first losing season with the Bears.
Not all of the departures have been announced as firings, but you can be certain that those who have left voluntarily did so because they were encouraged to do so by Tedford.
The most significant moves are probably the departure of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and offensive line coach Steve Marshall. Read More
If the 49ers want to become serious playoff contenders again, they’d do well to study the teams in the Super Bowl. For different reasons, they illustrate how organizations build champions.
With the Green Bay Packers, it was a combination of good decisions and courageous ones.
The first decision was to hire Mike McCarthy as coach. Packers general manager Ted Thompson liked the work McCarthy had done in helping develop top quarterbacks, including Brett Favre during a stint as the Packers’ QB coach, and made a good decision. Read More
Spring training is still two months away, but there was much talk of the playoffs as the A’s held a media day Thursday.
“After four years in Florida and two in Washington, where there was never any serious thought about contending, it’s nice to come to a team that has a chance to win something,” said outfielder Josh Willingham, who signed as a free agent in the offseason.
New reliever Grant Belfour pointed to the pitching depth, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. Read More
The best thing about the NFL championship games Sunday: Rex Ryan was silenced. Even Mr. Motor Mouth admitted he was speechless after the New York Jets’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.Ryan embodies two traits that I hate about the NFL: trash talking and a coach taking the spotlight.There should be no room for trash talking in sports, period. The NFL should put in a rule that any player caught trash talking gets a 15-yard penalty. That would shut them up in a hurry. Read More
Is Aaron Rodgers now the best quarterback in football? With Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both out of the playoffs, his only competition would seem to be Ben Roethlisberger.
Rodgers has never been considered in that category because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl and, in fact, has never been to one. Roethlisberger has won two. Read More
It’s official: Al Davis has become Howard Hughes.Like Hughes, Davis was brilliant in his early career, turning an Oakland Raiders team that had once lost 19 straight games over two years into a perennial powerhouse that went to four Super Bowls, winning three, in a 16-season run.And like Hughes, Davis has turned into an eccentric recluse in his later years, destroying his own legacy with weird moves. Read More
There have been many invocations of the Bill Walsh legacy with the signing of Jim Harbaugh as the 49ers’ coach, and the comparisons are legitimate.
Walsh knew how important assistant coaches are to an NFL team. In college, recruiting is the most important factor and the successful coaches are the ones who bring in blue-chip recruits. In the pros, teams start with a relatively even playing field, so coaching the players well is vital. Read More
Jim Harbaugh is a quarterback coach who seemingly doesn’t have a quarterback now that he’s come to the 49ers. He might want to talk to Alex Smith and get him to stay.
I know, I know, many 49ers fans would be outraged by that. One of my readers said the 49ers should cut all three of their quarterbacks — Alex Smith, Troy Smith and David Carr — and get a quarterback in the draft.
Easier said than done. This is not a great year for quarterbacks in the draft. There are no sure things like Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan — or Andrew Luck. Read More
The Stanford duo of quarterback Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh has captured the imagination of sports fans, who want to know what their future will be.
From my personal observation, I had expected that Luck would stay at Stanford, and he made that announcement Thursday. Luck is much more than an outstanding football player. He is very intelligent, with a 3.5 GPA at Stanford, and a very well-balanced young man who is serious about his education. Read More
Raiders players say they like Tom Cable. If so, they should have played for him at critical junctures of the season, which would have saved his job.
There were times when it seemed the Raiders were on the verge of a breakthrough. The first came when they entered their bye week on a real high, three straight wins: a 59-14 extravaganza against Denver, a 33-3 whipping of Seattle and, most important, a 23-20 win at home against the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs. Read More
Instead of looking for an executive from a winning team to become the 49ers’ general manager, Jed York is apparently looking inward in his wretched organization to promote Trent Baalke.
Well, I guess we shouldn’t expect anything different. Jed, after all, is the son of John York, who told me in our first conversation that he was going to tell Steve Mariucci how to coach his assistant coaches and then proceeded to tell Bill Walsh how to run an organization.
The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Read More
Desperate times require desperate solutions. Gene Washington once pointed out to me that Joe Thomas was so destructive in the late ’70s that Eddie DeBartolo was forced to turn control over to Bill Walsh.
The 49ers are not quite so desperate now, but the outlook is not rosy, either. They haven’t had a winning season since John York impulsively and foolishly fired Steve Mariucci in 2002. The three coaches since — Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary — have all been disasters in different ways. Read More