With McKenzie, the strangeness may end


With McKenzie, the strangeness may end

That first meeting between Reggie McKenzie and Hue Jackson ought to be a triumph of awkwardosity. Or awkwarditude. Or awkwardicity. I mean, merely awkward isnt like to cover it.AFTER ALL THE YEARS I GAVE TO THIS FRANCHISE! AFTER THE THINGS IVE DONE! IVE GIVEN YOU CARSON PALMER! IVE GIVEN YOU THE IM PISSED AT MY TEAM AD CAMPAIGN! AL, AL, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?Hi, Hue, Im Reggie McKenzie. Nice to meet you.

Okay, it wont be like that, at least not if Jackson wants to keep the job he was hired to do. Hell be forthright but respectful, and hell promise to be the best damned coach McKenzie has ever had, and the continued glory of the Raiders, and blah-blah-blah-de-blah-blah.Its called making a good impression, and Jackson isnt so nuts as to forget how to do so.But he must, in the back of his mind, be in full fume about the end of his 89-day tenure as the football department of the Oakland Raiders. Those six heady wins, those six annoying losses, those late-night chats with Mike Brown whispering sweet give-me-Carson-Palmers into his ear . . . those were magic times.But now they are done, and the Raiders have become a traditional franchise for the first time since Wayne Valley first met Al Davis back in 1962. The franchise made a turn toward weird that day, and though their glory days were truly so, theyve been a long time off, and Reggie McKenzie has been charged with bringing them back, only in a more traditional and less capricious fashion.GUTIERREZ: Mark Davis acts decisively in landing McKenzie
This will not be a salute to the weird old days, though. The Raiders eccentricities had well run their course long before Jackson had replaced Tom Cable, and frankly, they were pretty much out of general bizarre theatre ideas the day Al Davis put on the overhead projector for the hit on Lane Kiffin.McKenzie is therefore the logical next step for a team that has always snuggled up to its essential strangeness. He wont understand the Raiders long-held methods, and unless he has been brought in to be a figurehead (which we doubt), a lot of that strangeness will end.Hell leave the uniforms as they are maybe update the eye patch with some gold trim in a Pirates Of The Caribbean motif but his M.O. is not that of someone who wants to put his stamp on a franchise. He wants to win more games than the Raiders have in the last, oh 17 years, which is when they returned to Oaktown and proceeded to polish off exactly 41.5 percent of their opponents.Thats somewhere between six and seven wins a year, and other than that piefight in Seattle a year ago, thats never been good enough to make the playoffs.But hell do it as the guy who runs a more staid, top-down, traditionally Midwestern read, Green Bay Packers-ish operation. Jackson will still be in the room for the big football decisions, but McKenzie will be making the big stripmine-the-draft-for-a-quarterback-you-used-to-know deal. Hell be the one making sure that Jackson doesnt say pissed at my team so often that he is sent to a urologist as a precaution.And if Jackson has a fundamental problem with that arrangement, well, the overhead projector can be turned into a power point presentation soon enough.It is clear that this is something Mark Davis wants. Or at least has come to see as being better than what he had. His first real decision as the essential owner of the franchise is a surprisingly sensible, even button-downed one, one he could not have made five years ago.That doesnt mean that there still isnt weirdness in the building. There will always be some of that, at least during the transitional phase while the tear of the sheet rock and rebuild off the studs to change the ambiance and the things between the walls. You know, its kind of like buying a house that used to be owned by a chain-smoking cat owner. You dont change the lingering aromas without a full-on reclamation.But McKenzie wasnt brought here to dust off pictures and repeat the old slogans. Hes come in to bring in some of his own, and if due diligence and facing our future squarely and as Ron Wolf has helped show me is a little too conservative for you, well, you had 48 years the old way, which is way more than anyone has any right to expect.In short, be thankful for what you had, and spare a thought for Hue Jackson today. He may be pissed at his team, but its for a very different reason than it was Sunday. Which, interestingly, will have been the last time you will ever have heard him say it in public.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.