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Cal Football

Redbox Press Conference : Wilcox Praises Departing Baldwin

December 12, 2019
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The festivities leading up the Redbox Bowl began Thursday with a news conference featuring Cal head coach Justin Wilcox and Illinois’ Lovie Smith. 

Neither really had much news to offer. Wilcox said that Cal did not have a “timeline” for naming a replacement for offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who has accepted the head coaching job at Cal Poly. Wilcox said that he had begun “discussions” regarding the position and that Baldwin will stay on as OC through the Dec. 30 bowl game.

Recently, rumors had circulated that Baldwin would not be retained for next season anyway. They might have been true or just wishful thinking on the part of the numerous Baldwin bashers who voice their opinions on Bear Insider message boards.

Regardless, Wilcox was effusive in praising Baldwin. 

“He is an excellent football coach and a better human being,” Wilcox said. “We are happy for him and his family and we are excited to have him finish out the season and I know he is, as well. I certainly appreciate Beau and who he is and what he’s done. We have had some circumstances (injuries) on that side of the ball, which haven’t always been easy. But he really did an excellent job.”

Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters, a grad transfer from Michigan, missed the season finale, a loss to Northwestern which was a three-touchdown underdog. Smith said Thursday he did not know Peters’ status for the bowl game. Peters was sidelined against Northwestern with his second concussion of the season, and redshirt freshman Mike Robinson was ineffective in his stead. The illini have been off for final exams for the last two weeks and resume practice on Monday. 

Smith, who sports one of the better beards in college football, said he looked forward to seeing both his own stellar linebacker Dele Harding and Cal’s Evan Weaver on the same field the same day. 

“Dele Harding is just an outstanding football player," Smith said. "I've had the privilege of coaching some very good linebackers during my career. When you go through and you've meant so much to a program, you'd like for them to finish it off with a career year, and that's exactly what he did.

"He's as productive a linebacker as there was in college football."

Weaver might take issue with that. He led the country with 173 tackles, while Harding was second with 147. "I love coaching a lot of positions," Smith said, "but it you had to pin me down, the linebacker position is probably the favorite that I've ever coached. For this game to have two outstanding linebackers . . . that should be a lot of fun for purists, defensive football people."

Cal, which starts its bowl practices Friday, will move to San Francisco four days before the bowl and hold its final four practice sessions at City College of San Francisco. That way the Bears can get more of a “bowl experience” according to Wilcox.

Coaching Connections: Two men have been the head coach at both Cal and Illinois. Pete Elliott and Mike White. Both took the Illni to the Rose Bowl, Elliott in 1964 and White in 1984. Ellliott, of course, also was the head coach of Cal’s last Rose Bowl team, which lost to Iowa in 1959.

Will Rivera Come Back? Cal Hall of Famer Ron Rivera, recently dismissed after ten years as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, told an interviewer that if he ever coached in college, it would be at his alma mater.

Rivera has stayed close to the program, When he was an NFL player he attended as many games as he could, including the 1992 Citrus Bowl. 

Speaking with a Charlotte radio host, Rivera was asked if he would ever coach at the college football level. Rivera said that if he did go back to the college level, it would be to coach at Cal. 

"It would be home," said Rivera, who was born at Fort Ord and attended Seaside High School near Monterey. "It would be an opportunity to go back and be part of that organization. And from everybody I've talked to that has coached college football, gone to the NFL and then gone back, (they) have all said that the vast difference is that you do make an impact on these young men a little bit sooner. And so that would be one of the reasons I would go back: I know I can make an impact sooner on young men."

He didn’t say if, after all these years as the head man, he would consider a job as an assistant. But if Tim DeRuyter follows Baldwin out the door, Wilcox could do worse as a successor.

 
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