Shaq Thompson returned to Northern California last Friday night and was greeted by an unfamiliar chorus.
He was booed.
Cal fans, feeling scorned by the Huskies' freshman safety, showered the Grant High School graduate with jeers throughout the Pacific-12 Conference game against Washington in Berkeley.
Thompson verbally committed to play on scholarship at Cal and follow in the footsteps of brother Syd, a four-year starter at cornerback for the Bears. The plan collapsed in January when Washington lured Justin Wilcox from Tennessee to become the defensive coordinator and then plucked Tosh Lupoi from Cal to be its recruiting coordinator. Thompson had grown close to both coaches over the years. Both coached Syd Thompson at Cal.
That's how it works in the college recruiting game. It's not the head coach who has the inside track to a player's heart. It's the assistant coaches recruiting him. So days before letter-of-intent day, Thompson switched to Washington, a program he also favored from the start of his frenzied recruiting process.
Thompson had perhaps his best game this season at Cal's expense. Looking more like a linebacker at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, the hybrid starter had seven tackles, including two for losses, and made a crucial interception to set up Washington's last score in a 21-13 victory. At 5-4, Washington needs another victory to become bowl eligible. Cal slipped further into despair at 3-7.
As for Thompson, Cal coach Jeff Tedford last week said: "We have a lot of respect for Shaq. People make decisions. I don't have any ill feelings toward Shaq."
Boyes to be honored
If anyone deserves a statue on the athletic grounds at Sacramento State, it's Cal Boyes. A coach and administrator for the Hornets spanning five decades, Boyes will be honored with his wife, Eileen, on Friday on campus in "An Evening with Cal and Eileen."
Boyes coached the baseball program to 11 Far Western Conference championships, was an assistant football coach for 12 seasons and served as athletic director in three stints, returning each time to help restore order and, some would say, save the department.
A member of the Hornets' Hall of Fame, Boyes retired in 1996. He mentored dozens of players who went on to coach in high school or college, including Mike Alberghini of Grant and Ron Barney of Mesa Verde.
For more information on Friday's event, call (916) 278-4269.
Beavers on fire
When asked how his weekend went, American River College football coach Jerry Haflich blurted, "Great. I'm running around with my hair on fire."
That's some trick, too, considering Haflich is bald. Drake Toffi's late 15-yard touchdown run capped a 96-yard drive to beat College of Sequoias 31-27.
The Beavers will host rival Sierra on Saturday for the Valley Conference championship.
It's also ARC Football Alumni Day, beginning with a barbecue and social at 11 a.m. for former players. For more information, call (916) 996-3411.
ARC wide receiver Diondre Batson, who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, signed a letter of intent to run track at Alabama. The Laguna Creek High School graduate is playing his final downs in football, prompting Haflich to say, "We'll use him, too."
Cosumnes River College inducted the following into its athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday: softball coach Cheri LaDue, cross country and track and field record setters Jim Howard and Edward "Jerry" Kelly, tennis star Alyssa Chinn and the 1979 men's soccer team that won the Valley Conference as a first-year program and was coached by Travis Parker, who said, "I'd never coached a sport with a ball before."