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Dykes fired!

WOW!  This was NOT expected.  What odd timing… this long after the season.  I wonder if there’s something else up besides just on the field stuff…

The other way to go is to go with the rumor mill in thinking “Isn’t it an odd coincidence that Chip Kelly was just fired from the 49ers?”

RIP Roger Theder

Former Cal football head coach (from 1978 to 1981) Roger Theder died today.

He wasn’t the best most winning head coach Cal has ever had, but he did ensure that John Elway never won the Big Game for Stanford, even in some years where Stanford was believed to be the vastly superior team and denying him (and Stanford) any bowl experiences. He always operated with integrity in a way that made all of use Cal fans proud.

Godspeed coach Theder.

(Update: I didn’t feel comfortable with the 2nd sentence of this post.  It’s been bugging me for the last day.  I was trying to indicate his teams didn’t win a lot of games without in any way being critical of him.  I’ve got a STRONG ‘thou shall not criticize the dead’ policy.  So I’ve substituted “most winning” for “best”.  After all, sometimes the best coaches in our lives aren’t responsible for the most games won.)


Well, it’s a bit more than my suggested $2.75M, but in the range of reasonableness, if at the very top of it.  Personally I would have rather seen that last $75K go to the assistants.  The reason is that I think Dykes will do very well if he has the defensive assistant coaches needed to field a good defense.  Just like with head coaches, getting and keeping good assistant coaches requires paying them well.

The other interesting clause is the automatic 1-year extension for every 7-5 season with a 980 APR.  At first I thought this was the 4-year APR, which would mean any extension would be unlikely to kick in for a few years.  While we’re expecting a high score this year (997), the previous 4 years are 946, 969, 923, with the 923 falling off next year, hamper his ability to make 980.  Even if the team scored a perfect 1000 next year, that would only be a 4-year APR of 978.  But, it’s the single year numbers he will be graded on, so there’s a good chance, Dykes can get an automatic 1-year extension most years if he can keep his current level of on the field performance.

How much should Cal do to keep Dykes?

Dykes is rumored to have interviewed for three different jobs: Missouri (although they announced someone else recently), South Carolina and Virginia.  It’s unclear if Dykes really wants out of if he’s just trying to get Cal to offer better terms than what they offered, specifically more money and a longer more guaranteed extension.

So the question becomes, how much should Cal offer to keep Dykes?

My thinking is that his salary should be upped to about $2.75M, but that he should only be extended 2 years (so 4 years total from now) with it getting reasonably cheap for the Bears to let him go after 2017.  I’m OK with Cal having to give a fairly large sum after next year.  With the amount of talent leaving (particularly if Goff leaves) and how the schedule is shaping up, it’s reasonable to expect Cal to take a bit of a step back next year.  Thus it’s reasonable for Dykes to insist his contract protects him from a one-year blip.

What do you guys think?  (Answer in the comments and respond to the poll on the sidebar)

Various January thoughts

1st up, after previous denying defensive changes, Dykes cleans house on that side of the ball, demoting Buh to a position coach (not announced but assumed to be linebacker) and firing both the defensive tackle (Randy Sacks) and defensive back (Randy Stewart) coaches.

Frankly, this surprises me. I mean, we all know the kiss of death for a head coach is the AD giving a “vote of confidence” to the head coach, and I guess the same is true for the assistant coaches when the head coach states he’s not making any changes. But something about the way Dykes said it in November and his image as a straight-talker, made me think he was going to ride it out.

But I’ve made it no secret that Buh doesn’t impress me. So I guess I’ll stick with calling this good news. Let’s just see who we get as a replacement.

Next up, the 2014 schedule is out. It validates what we already knew, including the Friday night Oregon game at Levi stadium and the non-conference slate of @Northwestern, Sac State and BYU and that the boycott on Thanksgiving weekend games in Berkeley is over with BYU coming to town that Saturday. The new news is that the bye weeks are set (9/13 and 11/8) and we’re playing at USC on a Thursday night (11/13).

Anybody else feel that we’re getting more than our fair share of non-Saturday games?

Depending on how good the team will be next year, this schedule is really bad or somewhat good. If you think the team will stink, it’s good, we get the worst teams at home (Colorado, Sac State). If you think we’re going to be struggling with mediocrity, the schedule is troublesome as most of the next tier games (@Arizona, @WSU, @OSU, BYU (at home)) are on the road. If you’re crazy and think this team is going to be good (and thus win those mid-tier games), most of the high-end games (UCLA, UW, Stanford, Oregon (neutral), @USC) are at home. For the non-crazy, perhaps what that means is we have a shot at a signature win for a mediocre team trying to show they’ve got the ability to beat the big boys.

Final thought on the schedule, I wish that first bye was a couple weeks later, but overall they’re not bad.

And final topic, the defections… Kline is no surprise and overall I think won’t hurt the program much. Tagaloa hurts a bit more. That guy has talent although under-achieved. But overall 3 guys defecting after a big change to the program is not that surprising. Overall it’s not too concerning. More concerning is the lack of progress on getting 4 star plus recruits and that we’re still 8 or so recruits away from the numbers we need in a month.

Former Cal OC Dunbar dies

[Jason here, making a very rare appearance…]

Mike Dunbar, Cal’s offensive coordinator during the Pac-10 co-championship season in 2006, died of cancer Friday at home in Washington state. There’s a great article about him in the Chicago Tribune. Dunbar finished his career on the staff at Northern Illinois, but he had to resign after getting his cancer diagnosis.

I think it’s safe to say that Dunbar was brought to Cal by Jeff Tedford specifically because Tedford continued to struggle with his development as a head coach. Dunbar brought knowledge of the spread offense, and in hindsight Tedford just couldn’t give up control of his pro-style offense. It was a bad fit and Dunbar left after a year.

My aunt and uncle met Dunbar when he was coaching at Toledo and remained friends for the rest of his life. My family and I were fortunate to be in the same room as the coaches and their families when UCLA upset USC immediately after Cal won the 2006 Big Game, making the teams co-champions. Many cheers for Cal’s first co-championship since the ’70s.

RIP Mike Dunbar.

Let the Sonny era begin

We all got the news last night that Sonny Dykes, current head coach of Louisiana Tech, former OC of Arizona (when their offense was good), has been hired as the Cal head coach.

In a lot of ways this is not at all a surprise. He’s been high on the list for a long time and unlike the others who hadn’t telegraphed interest in Cal, Dykes had both said he was interested and was currently sitting on a not-all-that-lucrative existing contract.

My guess is that Barbour got him for “cheap”, i.e. less than $2M, with a number of performance bonuses built in. I’m also guessing she’s planning on spending the extra cash on a top-notch defensive coordinator of Dykes choosing (rumor is New Mexico State head coach DeWayne Walker) and then also to generally boost the quality/pay of the assitants.

What surprises me is how much negative commentary there is out there about this hire. It seems like a good one to me. Seems to me all he needs to get to the next level is to have a good defense, something hopefully we have the money to hire someone as a DC who will do well for us.

Plus, he has Pac-12 connections (for recruiting) from his time at Arizona.

I think this is a good hire.

No joy today

Jeff Tedford was fired today.

It was the right decision.

But that doesn’t make it any less disheartening.

Tedford was the best thing to happen to Cal football in at least 25 years, if not 50. How can one be happy when his time has passed? It’s like being joyful at a funeral because you’ll be able to go play golf tomorrow and not go to the retirement home to visit grandpa. Yeah, the retirement home can be dreary and depressing, kinda like the last 5 football games, but I can’t be happy today at Tedford’s funeral because I don’t have to sit through another difficult game with him at the helm.

This doesn’t change at all that firing him was necessary (and please don’t complete my previous metaphor about grandpa… its limited applicability ended with the sadness, NOT with Euthanasia) and frankly, I think it was that sort of determination by Barbour to do what was necessary that Tedford lacked in recent years.

The big question is, how could a coach who had done so well for so long, fall so hard? We all know that the program has been on the wrong path for at least a few years, but how many was it? Why was Longshore that last QB to have true success under Tedford? Why did a team that ALWAYS won their bowl game start losing them and then not even making it to them? Why did a team that tended to finish strong, so often finish with a whimper?

And when did it really start? Did it start when Maynard was named QB (and perhaps as a concession to Allen)? Did it start in 2010, the first losing season? Or how about 2009, where the Bears lost their final two games after upsetting both Arizona and Stanford?

I’ve thought about this a lot and for me I think it all goes back to the most iconic moment in Tedford’s career… the last second lost to Oregon State in 2007. I’ve had this thought for a long time, but I haven’t been sure or confident in it, so I’ve been hesitant to harp on such an overly analyzed moment.

But now that Tedford has been fired, I think it is time to take stock of his entire career, leaving no stone unturned, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the moment Kevin Riley was tackled and Tedford let his emotions get the better of him for just a second, was the moment everything changed.

Ryan Gorcey summed it up very well in his column today:

After heaving his headset to the turf following a rookie play by rookie quarterback Kevin Riley on Oct. 13, 2007, when the Bears were just moments from being the top team in the land, thanks to a bevy of other upsets, Tedford vowed to be more in-control on the sidelines, to be more of a CEO. What he became was even more conservative, even more guarded, even more insular.

Before that night, Tedford was 48-20 as Cal’s head coach, with a 27-14 record against the Pac-10. Since that night — including that gut-wrenching loss — Tedford is 33-37 overall, and 21-30 against conference opponents.

Before that night, Cal had lost just six games by 14 points or more. Since then? 17 losses by 14 points or more. Tedford has gone 2-4 against the Cardinal. He has gone to four bowl games, and lost twice, having not won a bowl game since the 2008 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.

This is a man that has let his caring for his players — who has let the desire to please his charges, and to do what he thinks is best for them — get in the way of doing what needs to be done, of adjusting and changing and adapting. By his own admission, he has trusted players too much, particularly when it came to finishing their degrees — with a vast majority of players who count against the graduation success rate still having two or fewer online classes to take after promising Tedford years ago that they would get them taken care of.

Frankly, the numbers Gorcey references speak for themselves and prove that 10/13/2007 was the day when everything changed. But why? Why did that somewhat innocuous, understandable mistake (a rookie mistake by a rookie), have had such tremendous effect on the program?

And the answer is because Tedford’s heart grew 10 sizes that day and he lost the edge that made him the successful coach he was.

Many times after that year, Tedford made significant changes to the program, but they were all just a futile effort, an exercise in re-arranging the deck chairs as the ship went down, because the one thing that really needed changing, was the one thing he was unwilling to do… to return to the hard-edged Tedford that built up the program.

That hard-edged Tedford was a man that Tedford himself didn’t like. It was a hard, driven man, who was decisive and determined. Before that day, when Tedford was asked a stupid question in a post-game interview, the reporter would shrink after Tedford’s cut-throat answer and intimidating stare let the reporter know he was an idiot.

Since that day, Tedford answered questions in a far more dismissive and non-confrontational way. While there was still a gruff edge to him, it was more like a curmudgeoney old man instead of a heartless dictator. Mostly, he kept his demons bottled up inside and did his best to answer with platitudes so as not to be overly harsh or confrontational.

Looking at the transformation a different way, Tedford took stock of himself after that night and decided he didn’t like what he saw in the mirror. He vowed to change who he was and win a different way.

Sadly, he never found a way to do it.

In short, that fateful night in 2007 was the moment that Tedford contracted a disease that ended up being terminal. He let compassion get in the way of leadership. He let kindness get in the way of truth. He let generosity get in the way of righteousness.

So how can I be happy when compassion, kindness and generosity killed a beloved coach’s job; when compassion, kindness and generosity allowed him only one season in The House that Tedford Built; when compassion, kindness and generosity cause people to dance on his grave?

I just can’t be happy that these are the things that took Tedford down, no matter how true it is and how necessary it was that he be fired. I can’t imagine being anything but devastated when taking stock of what caused his fall from grace, no matter how painful a fall it was.

Tedford, if you ever read this, (and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way) you will always be considered a Cal great in my eyes and I will always look back on your time as the Cal football coach with fondness. I’m very sorry it had to end this way and will always look back on today with a certain sense of regret, no matter how successful Cal is in the future.

I will instead do my best to chose to remember moments like USC 2003, Oregon 2006 and 2007, Tennessee 2007, all the Big Games you won, particularly 2002 and 2009, the 2003 Insight Bowl, the 2006 Holiday Bowl and 2008 Emerald Bowl. These were great moments for Cal football and we have you to thank for them.

Thank you for your 11 years of faithful service to Cal football. California Memorial Stadium will ALWAYS be The House that Tedford Built and someday, when time has allowed for hardened hearts to soften, I hope to see a statue out front to commemorate that.

Jeff Tedford’s home for sale

According to this real estate post on SFGate, Tedford’s house in Blackhawk is for sale. You can see pictures of it at the above link.

Just an FYI, the comments on that piece are merciless…

Ludwig gone too

Well the bloodbath continues… and call me surprised on this one. I thought the bloodbath was over.

Andy Ludwig has left Cal to go be the OC at San Diego State.

According to Okanes, the rumor is that former offensive line coordinator Jim Michalczik is going to be coming back into the program to take his own spot back, and when reading the tea leaves, Ludwig leaving may also mean he’ll come back to be OC (which was kinda why he left in the first place).

Or perhaps Tedford will be his own OC again… it’s hard to tell.

In any case, it’s surprising this is happening so close to signing day (although with coaching changes sooner is almost always better than later). But at the end of the day, Ludwig’s tenure went just about the way Oregon said it would. We’d see signs of genius and lots to be optimistic about, but somehow simultaneously see the offense regress and lose steam. It was an odd feeling. There’s some intangible factor he just didn’t seem to have. Perhaps a lack of attention to detail?

Oregon dumped him when they went 5-7 and missed their first bowl game in a long while. Here’s hoping we get the same good fortune.


More coaching changes/news

One more coach down:
Al Simmons is “pursuing other opportunities”. This one kinda surprises me. I haven’t felt like Simmons was a weak coach. My gut is that this one came from Pendergast and not Tedford. Perhaps those two didn’t have the best working relationship. The fact that it came later also suggests it came from a different evaluation process.

Two replacements named:
Eric Kiesau is replacing Daft and will also be the “passing game coordinator”. I think this is a great move. The early Tedford passing game was marked by very consistent WR play and great hands. He obviously worked well with Tedford. Kiesau was at Cal from 2002-2005, being the early coach for everyone up through DeSean, Jordan and Hawkins. In my mind those were the last receivers we had at Cal that were truly exceptional and I have a feeling Kiesau was a part of the reason why.

Ashley Ambrose is replacing Al Simmons. This announcement came the same day as the Simmons announcement, so my gut feel is that this was less about Simmons and more about wanting Ambrose (btw, the homework assignment for all of the Catholic readers is to go look up St. Ambrose… with a last name like Ambrose, you have to be excited about this coach, right?). I know very little about him, but I have a feeling Pendergast wanted him and his NFL pedigree.

Tedford cleaning house

Tedford isn’t messing around this off-season. As previously reported, O-Line coach Steve Marshall left before he could be given the ax. Now it has been announced by the school that wide receiver coach Kevin Daft has been fired.

It’s also been confirmed that strength and conditioning coach John Krasinski has been let go too.

On offense that just leaves running back coach Ron Gould and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig left. I’d say only Gould is 100% safe at this point, although I get the feeling that Ludwig has at least one more season in him, particularly since the lower too were fired, giving him some “cover” for the weak performance of the offense this year.

Don’t underestimate the value of the strength and conditioning coach. I haven’t felt the last few years that the team’s conditioning was particularly strong. At the same time, I wouldn’t say it was weak. But you can tell those well conditioned teams from the rest of the pack. They’re the ones that always seem to have a 4th quarter comeback in them. When’s the last time the Bears were known for that?

Marshall reportedly leaving Cal

I first saw this on, who linked to, who says that Steve Marshall is headed to Colorado to be their O-Line coach. So far the CC-Times and Mr. Okanes, our most on the ball paper, hasn’t been able to confirm it.

I suspect it’s probably true.

As for whether this is a good thing, it’s hard to say until we see how his replacement does. There’s no doubt the offensive line has been under performing. But it could be that we were so used to exceptional coaching in Michalczik that we’re spoiled. It may be that whoever we get to replace him may not be any better.

What it does show, assuming it’s true, is that Tedford is already starting into his off season changes. Will others find themselves on the chopping block as well? I suspect this won’t be the end of it.

Urban Meyer in Berkeley

OK, the key caveat here is that this assumes, something I’m most definitely NOT willing to concede, that Tedford goes into a downward spiral… but that caveat aside:

Now that Urban Meyer has stepped down at Florida, I think he deserves a couple of years off from the stressful world of Florida football and I wish him well during his extended vacation. But may I suggest that he not get in a mortgage that has him locked into the state of Florida starting in 2013, or perhaps 2014. We here in Berkeley would love to have him. And we can promise a few things most other programs can not:

  • One of the most beautiful settings in the world
  • Brand new facilities, both workout AND stadium
  • A friendly, laid-back media
  • A far lower set of expectations from boosters and alumni
  • A guaranteed path to the granddaddy of them all

Trust me coach, you’d love it in Berkeley.

Points I’m willing to concede about Tedford

OK, a couple more thoughts on Tedford’s job security…

I’m willing to concede the following points:

  1. Tedford may be paid a bit much. He’s worth $1.5 million or so, maybe even bordering on $2M. The $2.5+M is a bit more than his performance is worth, when basing it on what other coaches make.
  2. Tedford is not a “great coach”. He’s a good coach, but there are clearly times when he’s still learning and times when his mistakes (or the mistakes of his staff) are pretty frustrating, particularly when no halftime adjustments seem to help.

That’s about it. In every other way, I think he’s the perfect head coach for Berkeley. He’s recruited well, considering his facilities. He’s a stand-up guy who always does the right thing by his coaches, players and the University as a whole. He’s won a LOT of games that we’d never have won in the past. He’s brought the fans back to Berkeley. He’s gotten the money and facilities moving in a way I just about never thought would happen.

So what do we do with the fact that he makes a bit too much? One option is to dump him and pay him all the money his buyout is worth. Then we’ve either got to get a budget coach or pay just as much if not more for someone better. The other option is to just keep paying him. I’d argue that we’ll get a better value for our dollar by just paying him. The only thing to do is when he contract is up is to make the next one a little less and perhaps give him bigger incentive clauses. Maybe $1.5M for every BCS game appearance but only $1.5M base? I don’t know exactly what, but I think it’s obvious conceptually what I’m suggesting.

The overall point is that this isn’t something worth focusing. OK, OK, we can be upset we lost, but let’s focus our energy somewhere else besides whether Tedford deserve to be fired. It’s just not going to happen, at least for another 3 years (isn’t the contract through 2014?). It’s just not worth banging our heads against that wall.

Tedford under fire

I can tell you whether Cal lost a game just based on the blog statistics. Every time they lose, I get a handful of Google searches headed this way with the search term “Fire Tedford” or “Fire Jeff Tedford” or something like that. It usually refers them to a post titled Fire Tedford. Are you NVTS!?! that I wrote in 2007 during the collapse.

As much as the details are different, the overall point still rings true. A day may come when it’s time for Tedford to go, but it’s not remotely close to that time yet. People have completely forgotten what the alternative has been in the past and are way to arrogant to think that whoever we get to replace him will not be any worse. Go ask UCLA about all the coaches they’ve fired and how it worked out.

At least see what he does for the rest of the season for crying out loud.

Bob Gregory leaving

Well, Alamar haters got what they wanted a couple months back and now Gregory haters can join in the reveling. Via

Bob Gregory will depart Cal to join the Boise State coaching staff as a defensive assistant, head coach Jeff Tedford announced Wednesday. Gregory spent eight seasons as Cal’s defensive coordinator and was one of the original hires made by Tedford upon his arrival at Cal in 2002.

A national search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Pretty surprising news for a few reasons. For one, Gregory is taking a serious demotion, from DC at a BCS school to a position coach (word is he’s going to be the linebacker coach) at a WAC/non-BCS school (admittedly BSU is a “special” non-BCS school, but still). Secondly, the timing is somewhat odd, being so late in the post-bowl, pre-spring ball off-season.

My guess is that Tedford told Gregory that he wanted to make a change at DC but that he liked him too much to fire him and asked him to go find a new job. Gregory started shaking the trees and found less interest than he would like. But, instead of insulting his old friend by not leaving, he took a demotion to a position that’ll give him a big upside down the road.

In other words, as always, the Cal coaching staff acted with class.

Update at 2:02 PM: Okanes caught up with Tedford and he indicates that it was entirely Gregory’s decision:

(Tedford) emphasized that this was strictly Gregory’s decision and that he wanted Gregory back as defensive coordinator. Tedford said Gregory is making the move to lighten his workload to spend more time with his two young boys. He said Gregory’s priorities have changed and has decided to focus more on his family. Not being a coordinator will allow him to do that.

Of course the classy thing to do when you’ve asked your defensive coordinator to find another job so that you don’t have to fire him is to NEVER tell anyone. Otherwise, what’s the point? But for what it’s worth, that’s what Tedford is saying.

To add to the “we knew this was coming” indicators, Tedford indicated that they could have an announcement of a replacement as early as today.

(end update)

As for whether this is a good thing, call me a doubter. I thought Gregory had his issues, but I felt like he was growing and getting better all the time. It took real guts to go to the 3-4 and while the 2nd year wasn’t as good as the first, he was still learning it and I had confidence it would be vastly improved in 2010.

At the same time, this is a great opportunity to bring in someone who’s not just learning but very good right now with the 3-4.

Then there are the rumored replacements:

  • Tosh Lupoi, Cal DL coach: My thought is that he’s not ready yet. He needs a couple more years of experience and even then he’d be young. Plus, his only coaching experience is under Gregory, so if you’re looking for a change, this is someone who won’t have a lot of experience with other ideas/schemes. Yes, he’s awesome at his job, but even the most awesome guy needs time to grow.
  • Dick Bumpas, TCU DC: It would be a great hire if we could get him. Problem is that TCU is quickly becoming one of those “special” non-BCS schools and he may not want to leave.
  • Corwin Brown, former Notre Dame DC: I’ve got split feelings on Brown. Supposedly a great recruiter and a great guy. Also comes from ND, where I’ve always got a soft spot. But did you SEE ND’s defense the last couple years!?! It’s the reason Weis is looking for a job right now. Seems like we’d want someone who’s coaching experience was good.
  • Some NFL Linebacker coach like Steeler’s Keith Butler or Charger’s John Pagano: I’m not a big fan of NFL coaches going to the college ranks if they don’t already have college coaching experience. I’ll site Charlie Weis. The level of skill that NFL guys expect their players already have and don’t need to be coached is so high, they often overlook the simple things like tackling. The best defensive scheme in the world won’t work if the guys can’t do the fundamentals. But if you’re going to go with an NFL position coach, I think the LB coach is the way to go as it’s the heart of the 3-4 defense. Luckily Butler has college experience at Memphis and since the Cal 3-4 is modeled after the Steeler’s 3-4, it would be one of the better hires. Pagano has no such experience so not so much, even though they run the 3-4 in San Diego.
  • Ray Horton, Steeler’s DB coach: Another Steeler’s coach worth having but I’d rather have Butler since he’s got college experience and is the LB coach. At the same time, Horton is very highly revered for being a great coach.
  • Ken Norton Jr., USC assistant DC/Linebacker coach: Probably a good hire talent wise and has a great deal of college experience at an elite program. It would still be a promotion for him even though he’s now in the NFL but part of me thinks he doesn’t want to leave Pete Carroll’s side now that he’s in the NFL. I also worry about his integrity coming from USC’s dirty staff.
  • Dick Tomey, former San Jose St. and Arizona head coach: A bit over the hill in my opinion and could pull an Erickson (great for a year or two while fired up but age catches up with him). Also, why does a former head coach make that much of a step down? Plus, was he really that good of a coach? I wasn’t impressed with SJSU.
  • Ron English, Eastern Michigan head coach: Hard to get behind a guy who’s team went 0-12 in their first year, but it’s a big rebulding process at EMU. At the same time, he did good things at both Michigan and the Jets as a position coach and may see EMU as too much to take on. Some like him because he’s a Cal grad and it’s hard to argue with that. Tosh is working out great and the loyalty to the program of an alum is higher than most. But sometimes that wish carries with it a bias that clouds one’s vision about the quality of the coach. Do I need to remind everyone about Joe Kapp? Occasionally his team would do great things that only a True Blue could do, like The Play and the 1986 Big Game. However, overall the program suffered under him.
  • Jon Tenuta, North Carolina State LB coach and former Georgia Tech DC: Supposedly his defenses at NC State were viscous, but I worry a bit about his character. I like my coaching staff squeaky clean and there are some rumors about him that worry me.
  • Justin Wilcox, Tennessee DC: He had a great run at Boise State before leaving for Tennessee this off-season. Unlike others, I don’t think the Ludwig maneuver (two school changes in one off-season) is going to happen twice.
  • Mark Banker, Oregon State DC: Another great hire but one that I guarantee you isn’t going to happen.

So, I guess my overall thought is that it will really depend on who the replacement is and how quickly he can come in and be productive. Remember that spring practice starts 3/6 and is just over 2 weeks away (anyone care to wager that it’ll be pushed back?), so time is of the essence. In fact, it may already be too late to make any good use of spring ball other than talent evaluation.

So, we’ll see. As they say, Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

Bruce Snyder has died

I did not know that Bruce Snyder was ill, but apparently he’s had an aggressive form of Cancer for the last year or so. He died today (Hat tip to CGB).

Being born in 1975, minus the 1982 Big Game there wasn’t much for me to cheer for as the son of a Cal Engineeing alumni on the football field until Snyder came along. I remember with fondness the 1991 game versus UW (despite being a loss) because it was a HUGE game between ranked teams. Something unheard of in Berkeley.

You could go so far to say that I earned my Cal football stripes through Snyder. It was his teams that got me hooked and his departure that ensured that I knew what it meant to be a Bears fan (learning to live with disappointment).

Coach Snyder, may you, God willing, be brought into the light of Heaven and the peace and joy that lasts for all eternity.

Tedford signs contract extension

Jeff Tedford has signed a two-year contract extension to keep him at Cal through 2015… or at least through next year and the next contract extension.

“Jeff Tedford’s leadership of our football program has placed us among the nation’s finest in combining on-field success with academic and community excellence,” Sandy Barbour said. “He truly represents ‘Athletics Done Right.’ The Cal football program has become an integral part of the comprehensive excellence of the Berkeley campus. I’m pleased that we’ve agreed to this mutual long-term commitment.”

Well, all right.

Now playing for Cal: Uh, I don’t know his name. Who’s number 34 this year?

No-Name JerseyThere’s nothing that cures a season-killing streak in which you lose six of seven games like… removing names from your uniforms?

So says Jeff Tedford in today’s Chronicle:

Maybe as jarring as the gold stripe down the middle of the new Cal helmets, will be the lack of names on the back of the newly designed jerseys. Coach Jeff Tedford removed the names before last season’s Armed Forces Bowl as a tribute to the military, and he admitted Monday that the tribute will continue this season because it was a twofold statement. “After the way Washington and Stanford happened, it was evident that we all needed to come together and look at accountability issues,” Tedford said. “That’s what we did. It was taking identity off of individuals and putting it back on the team.”

Not to freak anyone out, but this is not the first time Cal has pulled a move like this. The last time it happened was during, you guessed it, the depths of the Tom Holmoe era.

Now I’m pretty sure that players are not able to spin their heads around, “Exorcist” style, and read their names (upside-down) on their jerseys as an ego boost. But there is one group that directly benefits from names being placed on jerseys: The fans.

While many of our readers no doubt can memorize the name and number of every Cal player — and can even pick on the subtle physical characteristics that differentiate that number 4 from that other number 4 — I’m betting that 99% of Cal fans can’t.

Names on jerseys help the process by, y’know, actually telling you the name of the guy who just made that play.

Of course the no-names-on-jerseys trick is a cheap motivator. But to me it reeks of desperation, perhaps (I admit) because this is the same kind of genius motivational tactic we saw in the tainted Holmoe era. And because it’s disrespectful to the fans.

But hey, I guess those of us paying hundreds or even thousands of bucks to go watch games in Memorial Stadium aren’t as important as a team-unity stunt. There are plenty of ways to preach team unity to a bunch of college athletes. Couldn’t they find one that didn’t degrade the fan experience?

(Update: Look, this is not exactly a gigantic issue that’s going to rock Cal’s football team to its foundations. But it’s just so stupid that it drives me batty. So I wanted to add one more point. If this is really about “taking identitity off of individuals and putting it back on the team,” why not go all the way? Assign jersey numbers randomly every week and give the number listing only to accredited members of the media! And don’t announce the names of players on the Memorial Stadium system! Make the fancy introduction video on the little BearVision screen all about the team and don’t read off the names of players in a pre-game ceremony. Sadly, the rules don’t allow you to remove numbers completely, but if you really want to “take identity off of individuals,” there are a lot of annoying things you could do. Why stop at nameplates? -J.S.)