Walcoff: Cal has talent to make Rose Bowl

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour was as giddy as a schoolgirl giving a national newspaper columnist a tour of Memorial Stadium and the new Athletic Performance Center under construction Tuesday afternoon.

Before he took part in his growing list of radio and TV interviews, Cal coach Jeff Tedford was corralled outside the football office by a Los Angeles sportswriter eager to get the inside word on Jahvid Best.

Cal hasn’t quite reached the heights of the Berkeley tree-sitters, but the No. 6-ranked Bears (3-0) are in rarefied air heading into Saturday’s Pac-10 opener at Oregon.

Cal is second nationally in scoring, averaging almost 49 points a game. The Bears’ defense has 13 sacks, fifth most in the country and their 25 tackles for loss is ranked 12th in the NCAA. Best leads all of college football with nine touchdowns this season, scoring at an unheard of rate of once every six times he touches the ball.

After spending his first seven seasons in the shadows of Pete Carroll and mighty USC, Tedford finally has a team that can dethrone the Trojans. Of course, USC visits Cal on Oct. 3.

If Best stays healthy and junior quarterback Kevin Riley continues to shine in the clutch (Riley has thrown five touchdown passes and no interceptions this season, compared with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions in nine starts in 2008), the Bears should be Pac-10 champs for the first time in more than 50 years. I don’t know who would be happier, Barbour, Tedford and his team or former Cal star Joe Kapp, who swore off tequila until the Bears returned to the Rose Bowl.

– Shaun Hill hasn’t waited quite that long, but the 49ers quarterback returns to Minnesota on Sunday where he spent four seasons without ever throwing a pass for the Vikings. Despite outplaying former Super Bowl quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck in the first two weeks of the season, Hill continues to get very little respect around the league. Meanwhile, Brett Favre, who leads the NFL with a 77 percent completion rate after feasting on the lowly Lions and Browns, may be in for a rough home opener. The hard-charging 49ers defense will be even faster on the Metrodome Field turf, while the soon to be 40-year-old Favre has traditionally struggled playing indoors.

– If this is the real JaMarcus Russell, the Raiders are in real trouble. Russell is last in the league, completing only 35 percent of his passes. Even worse, he has connected on only 7 of 33 throws to his wide outs. Curiously, JaMarcus finished last week’s game in Kansas City with a flourish, hitting on four of his last six passes to set up the game-winning touchdown.

The Raider Nation must be suffering emotional whiplash trying to figure out what to expect from the Big Enigma.

The once porous Broncos defense comes to Oakland on Sunday having given up only one touchdown this season. Denver’s defensive coordinator is a guy named Mike Nolan, who obviously works better without a jacket and tie and that lofty title: head coach.

KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news and is also the co-host of “Raiders Gameday” and “Recap” talk shows on KSFO (560 AM). He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.

Bay Area NewsCalsportsUSC

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police officers speak with people while responding to a call outside a market on Leavenworth Street in the Tenderloin on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SFPD makes the case for more officers, citing Walgreens video

Most of us have seen the video. It shows a man filling… Continue reading

A 14-Mission Muni bus heads down Mission Street near Yerba Buena Gardens. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency

The streets of San Francisco became real-time laboratories for The City’s public… Continue reading

NO CONNECTION TO SERVER:
Unable to connect to GPS server ‘blackpress.newsengin.com’
Debate reignites over San Francisco’s first public bank

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Courtesy Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed spoke at the reopening of the San Francisco Public Library main branch on April 20. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
SF reopening more libraries through the summer

After a handful of San Francisco public libraries reopened last month for… Continue reading

Most Read