SAN FRANCISCO — To travel or not to travel.
That has been one of the questions surrounding Cal's football team in recent weeks when it became apparent the Bears were headed to the Emerald Bowl. The players originally expressed frustration that they wouldn't be traveling to a different locale for a bowl game but embraced the idea of having a partisan crowd at AT&T Park.
But there is another component in play that makes it beneficial for the Bears to stay home — recruiting.
Since Cal will be practicing at Memorial Stadium until the game on Dec. 27, the Bears can host more recruiting visits than if they were on the road. With a handful of top recruits still reportedly considering Cal, the next couple of weeks could loom important in shaping the Bears' 2009 recruiting class.
"That was one of the huge things about this game — it gives us an extra week of recruiting," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Thursday night during an Emerald Bowl reception at AT&T Park also featuring Miami coach Randy Shannon. "If we were in the Vegas Bowl, we wouldn't be here. We would have lost a weekend. There are a lot of reasons why this is a great place to be right now."
Tedford said Cal is hosting a group of recruits this weekend and next weekend. There will be more visits in January, but Tedford said the upcoming visits are more effective because his current players are still on campus.
"Our players are around so they have a chance to hang out with the players," Tedford said. "In January, those are big recruiting weekends, but your players aren't there. These are huge recruiting weekends."
Tedford and Shannon said they haven't started watching tape of the other team yet. Cal returns to practice today but won't start game-planning for Miami until next week. Shannon said he's caught a few Cal games this season.
"If we have a 3 o'clock game, I'll go home and watch Pac-10 football if it starts late at night," Shannon said. "They're very impressive offensively, obviously with the running back (Jahvid Best). And their defense has been playing great lately."
Is Best the best?
Tedford lamented the fact coaches are asked to submit their All-Pac-10 ballots before the season ends. Coaches had to vote before last week's games, when Best rushed for 311 yards and four touchdowns to take a commanding lead over Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers in the conference's rushing race.
Rodgers was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.
"I always feel like we jump the gun," he said. "I'm not saying Jacquizz doesn't deserve it. What I'm saying is I have a hard time understanding why we don't wait until the end of the season to vote on things. Sometimes, we haven't even seen guys who are on the ballot. Jacquizz did a great job. But I think all the information has to be in."
Tedford said he voted for Best and linebacker Zack Follett as offensive and defensive players of the year.
Cal center Alex Mack has been named a Walter Camp second-team All-American. ... As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 2,000 tickets remained for the Emerald Bowl. ... Cornerback Chris Conte, who didn't play against Washington because of a broken thumb, had surgery and is expected back for the Emerald Bowl.
— Jonathan Okanes
vs. Miami, 5 p.m.
TV: ESPN. Radio: 810-AM