The worst kept secret in Berkeley finally became suitable for public consumption Monday, as Cal coach Jeff Tedford named junior Kevin Riley his starting quarterback for the 2009 season.
Riley, the Bears' returning starter, held off sophomore Brock Mansion to retain his job.
Truth be told, it wasn't much of a competition. Riley took most of the first-team snaps during training camp, and players have been rallying around him since the end of last season.
"Kevin (has) experience with game situations and with the offense, and he's been more accurate and consistent throwing the ball," Tedford said. "He has been pretty consistent all the way through. You can tell at the line of scrimmage and in the huddle that Kevin's experience makes him comfortable with the offense."
Riley also was named the starting quarterback at the end of training camp last season, but he twice lost his job to senior Nate Longshore, including in the season-ending Emerald Bowl. That essentially left the job open for 2009.
But Riley was far and away Cal's best quarterback during spring practice. He entered fall camp as the starter and was never close to yielding that position to Mansion.
"In the summer, I went about it like this was my team and just continued from there," Riley said. "I tried to go out this summer and be a leader. Last year I was named starter but told at the same time that Nate would also play in the first game, so it was still really kind of open. Now they are telling me that I'm the guy. I am ready to play."
After tantalizing Cal fans with a brilliant performance in the Armed Forces Bowl in 2007, Riley had an uneven 2008, throwing for just 123.6 yards per game and 14 touchdowns in nine starts. He said after the season that he never felt comfortable knowing he could be replaced by Longshore at any moment.
Now, the Bears clearly are Riley's team, and he seems ready to thrive in that role.
"He's just really showed that he wants to lead this team to a championship," wide receiver Marvin Jones said. "He is that guy that people will just rally behind. He took up that leadership right after the season ended. It really shows out there on the field."
Riley went to Tedford after the season to work on his mechanics and put in extra time over the summer throwing to Cal's receivers. Tedford said Riley's throwing mechanics, footwork, and knowledge of the offense have greatly improved his accuracy.
Riley has also demonstrated a much better grasp of Cal's offense and an improved ability to read defenses during camp.
"It definitely feels good," Riley said. "I put in a lot of hard work from when the season ended last year until now. It's definitely a relief, but I had confidence all of camp. I was taking the (first) reps lately, so I thought it was me. I just didn't know for sure."