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Archive for February, 2010

The new Defensive Coordinator is…

Clancy Pendergast!

It’s not up on but multiple sources are reporting it.

The best initial source of info on him is his Wikipedia entry.

Basically he had early coaching experience with a number of college teams including USC before going to the NFL in 1995. From 1996 to 2002 he was the linebacker coach at Dallas and from 2004-2008 he was the DC at the Arizona Cardinals. Last year he was at Kansas City in the same roll and he was hired away from there by Oakland this off season before pulling a Ludwig (guess I was wrong on that happening twice, huh?) and making the move to Cal.

He seems to be “scheme agnostic” having coached 4-3’s a lot, but has experience with 3-4’s as well and has adapted a number of other schemes.

As for my thoughts, I’m going to take a wait and see attitude. I don’t know anything about him and his NFL resume is nothing spectacular, albeit it IS an sizable NFL resume including a DC at the pro level. Add in that he’s got some but not a ton of college experience and I’m optimistic that he has potential.

But potential and ability are two different things and unlike in past years where my gut says they were great hires, my gut is uneasy about this one.

More to come…

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.

Incredible recruiting class

Well, for those who care about football recruiting, today is a GREAT day. Cal grabbed the #10 class in the nation, with a flurry of last minute recruits. Today they officially signed 2 5-star players (aka DeSean Jackson quality players) both on defense. One, Keenan Allen, is a WR/Safety who we expect to play at safety and the other, Chris Martin is a combo linebacker/defensive end. He’s hopefully our next Zack Follett (but even more talented).

This is really important because we’ve had some talent weaknesses on defense and this class is FULL of defensive talent. There are 4 4-star linebackers (in addition to Martin) and a 4-star defensive end. Just think about that. Of the 9 4-star and 5-star players, 7 of them are defensive players. In the past, generally, the balance has fallen towards more offensive talent than defensive at Cal.

The other two 4-stars are a wide receiver and an offensive lineman, two positions that we could use some additional strength.

Add in that the balance, as with all Tedford classes, is pretty good (you basically want a complete team) with 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 OL (little weak), 4 WR (little heavy but needed), 2 DL (little weak), 4 LB, and 3 DB. OK, it probably would have been nice to have 3 defensive linemen and 4 offensive lineman (and if we’re being nit-picky, a 4th defensive back), but when you compare that to some other schools, it’s near perfect balance (as an example of how bad it can be, last year Stanford had 4 tight ends).

Truly, this is a great, balanced class, the best of the Tedford era.