Cal coach Jeff Tedford has figured out a way to stop answering questions about his starting quarterback.
"Kevin (Riley) is the starter. You can write that down," Tedford said Monday at the annual Bay Area College Football Media Day. "Kevin is our starter and he will be our starter, but there will still be competition from other people."
Naming Riley the starter isn't a surprise. The fifth-year senior has been Cal's starting quarterback for most of the past two seasons, including all 12 games last year. But for much of the offseason, Tedford had said there was going to be an earnest competition for the starting job.
While Tedford still maintains Riley will face competition, it's clear there will have to be a dramatic dip in the incumbent's performance for him to lose his spot.
Sophomore Beau Sweeney enters training camp, which begins Saturday, as Riley's backup, and junior Brock Mansion is No. 3. Neither has ever taken a meaningful snap in a game.
Riley, meanwhile, is the Pac-10's active leader with 37 touchdown passes and has a 15-8 record as a starter.
"You go back and look at the tape and he did a lot of really good things last year," Tedford said. "You take a look at that experience and the dividends that should pay this year. He had a solid spring. He's done enough to be able to do that. But it's still going to be competitive. That's not going to change."
Riley won the starting job out of training camp in each of the past two seasons. In 2008, he beat incumbent Nate Longshore for the job. Last fall, neither Sweeney nor Mansion posed a serious threat for the position.
"He knows he's the guy, he's the leader," said Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed, who is also Riley's roommate. "The whole team is behind him."
Whiteside's delayed enrollment means Cal has lost two of the headliners from its recruiting class, which was ranked No. 11 in the country by rivals.com. Chris Martin, the top outside linebacker in the country, according to scout.com, announced last month that he was transferring to Florida before ever playing for the Bears.
"It was evident when he got here that he didn't want to be here," Tedford said. "He wanted to do other things. He wanted to go hang out with his ex-buddies and all that. There wasn't a lot of dedication to football and school and things like that. I wanted to make sure he can go where he wants to be happy, but the rest of our guys want to be here and be completely focused on what they are doing."
Martin, an Oakland native, cited "distractions" as the reason for leaving Cal.
Whiteside was rated the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country by rivals.com and was expected to possibly compete for playing time as a true freshman. Whiteside's academic standing is still being reviewed by the NCAA. Even if the NCAA were to determine Whiteside is eligible, he would not be allowed to enroll for the fall because he didn't participate in Cal's Summer Bridge program.