Reestablishing the Gold in Bear Territory
After finishing the season 3-9 and with a conference record of 2-7, change was needed. Cal Berkeley finally dismissed long time head coach Jeff Tedford after ten years. To his credit, Tedford leaves Cal as the all time leader in wins, games coached, and bowl game victory’s. The expectations ran high after a $445 million dollar investment to Memorial Stadium and a new student athletic center. The Tedford decade is referred to as the golden age of Cal football, but we hope the best is yet to come.
The athletic department hired Sonny Dykes as the new head coach in early December. Dykes spent his early career working under Hal Mumme as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky in 1997 and 1999. He later worked under Texas Tech’ head coach Mike Leach from 2000-2006. In 2010, Dykes was hired as head coach by Louisiana Tech University. Too much success, he finished with an overall record of 22-15. In 2012, his offense averaged 577.9 yards per game, which led the nation. The head coach position wasn’t the only change to the Golden Bears’ coaching staff. Tony Franklin was hired as the new offensive coordinator. Franklin spent the past three years working under Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech. Andy Buh has also been named defensive coordinator. He spent last season as the linebacker coach for the University of Wisconsin. Buh, pronounced boo, was previously the defensive coordinator for the University of Nevada in 2010-2011 and at Stanford 2007-2009.
With practice underway, the Golden Bears have a few obstacles to overcome. Sonny Dykes is inheriting a team that was built for Tedford’s conservative style, rather than a high tempo offense. It will take sometime for the team to adjust. The biggest question mark facing Dykes is the quarterback position. None of the three QBs on the roster have any collegiate experience. Zach Kline, a red shirt freshman from Danville. Jared Goff, a true freshman from Novato. Finally, Austin Hinder, a community college transfer from Colorado. The quarterback battle is down to Kline or Goff. Kline does have the stronger arm, which is valued in the Air Raid system, but does lack the decision making. Goff has the maturity and leadership to run the new Bear Raid offense. The sooner a starter is named, the better!
The Golden Bears do have stars that will eventually play on Sunday. At wide receiver, Chris Harpor was recently named to the Biletnikoff watch list. Harpor played the entire season as a true freshman, racking up 41 catches for 544 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Bigelow only had 44 carries for 431 yards in his sophomore year, with three rushing touchdowns over 57 yards. If Bigelow stays healthy, Cal would have arguably one of the best running backs in the nation. On defense, Deandre Coleman was added to the Outland trophy watch list. An award given to the best interior defensive lineman in college football. In 2012, he registered 48 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks. Coleman is also projected to be a first to second-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. If the offense has a smooth transition and the defense can remain in the top ten, Cal can make a serious run in the north division of the PAC 12.
As the Bears prepare themselves for a tough schedule, it’s hard to predict the outcome of the 2013 season. Many experts believe Dykes’ air raid attack will not transfer over to the Pac 12. Others question if Cal has the players to win now. Only time will tell and the first test is around the corner. On August 31st, the Golden Bears take on #22 ranked Northwestern University at home. On September 14th, #2 ranked Ohio State makes a trip to Berkeley. Three out of the first four teams on Cal’s schedule have won ten or more games in 2012. A new era has begun in Bear territory and with a new look, we hope Sonny Dykes can reestablish Cal as a PAC 12 powerhouse!