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Cal's Football Staff and what it says about the Bears commitment to winning

December 2, 2023
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The easy and perhaps not inaccurate view is to see things through the simplest lens:

  • The offense was solid and improved so Jake Spavital is a priority staff member to retain
  • The Defense struggled two seasons in a row so it is time to replace Peter Sirmon

You can apply more subjective views on the other positional units and have a similar evaluation, where did difference-making players emerge and statistics seemingly indicate positional success?

Yet, other variables certainly feel relevant to include (this is not exhaustive):

  • Recruiting. how have the players they have evaluated and landed performed?   Are they viewed as a net positive in overall recruiting for the program?
  • For the coordinators, do they hire and retain quality assistants?
  • What's the relationship like between these coaches and the players?
  • Is the relationship between the assistants positive and productive?
  • Is the coach dealing with personal issues that are serious enough to be impacting the coach and the rest of the team?

Because no one is close enough to all the specific details, it comes down to trusting the Head Coach and the overall results he produces.   

It’s hard to describe the Bears' on-the-field performance as being anything other than mediocre  There have also been what feels like obvious mistakes made in the make-up of the staff.   Among those are the decision to hire Angus McClure as the OL coach and the compounded mistake of retaining him for a second season.  Additionally, it's hard not to question the decision to go with two Defensive Back coaches and not have a full-time Special Teams coach.   Cal's performance in the defensive backfield has fallen off a cliff since that decision has been made including this year where they had five players who have been honors winners. And Special teams have been well "special" in all the wrong ways.

We talk a lot about Cal making a REAL commitment to winning in Football and the critical importance that there is fulsome alignment between the Chancellor, the AD, and the Head Coach in this regard.  Wilcox, himself has pounded the table with the imperative of having this commitment rooted throughout the University.   What is likely not asked as often as it could be is whether the Head Coach himself truly making that commitment.

Have staff decisions been made around winning with high standards and accountability for every member of the staff?   Or have other concerns and values - treating assistants with respect, loyalty, etc taken precedence??  

Among the specific questions that can help evaluate whether the Head Coach is truly committed include:  Has the Head Coach pushed the administration to make sure the support staff around them are high quality and supportive of the vision and culture of the program?   How quickly are needed changes to the staff made?    Are other factors that while important and worthy of consideration obviating the big picture of performance?  E.g. Since the Head Coach isn't a great recruiter we need to emphasize assistant recruiting prowess ahead of their track record and ability to teach players.   

It is incredibly difficult to be a successful college football coach.  It's even more difficult at Cal right now, given the school's conscious decision over the past 15 years to ignore the importance of football, its corresponding failure to invest in the sport and the the lack of administrative support to football in almost every respect.

In part because of that, the head Football coach at Cal must be ruthlessly focused on constantly improving every aspect of the football program to get it to a place where it can win 8+ games year in and year out.  And we as fans and donors have to hold them accountable when it's clear that they are solving for things other than that goal.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about ignoring academics and character, IMO, those are table stakes at Cal.   Yet, they aren't a sufficiency.  

Jake Spavital is a good offensive mind and the offensive improvement for the Bears in 2023 was meaningful, but based on everything that we know, he had to leave.   The question is what happens now?  Does Wilcox find a way to improve the offensive staff?   

Tim Plough's departure is disappointing yet it's important to wait and see what occurs not only in hiring a new OC and TE coach but throughout the entire staff.   Given the lack of success on the field, this can no longer be about blind trust.  Wilcox needs to demonstrate both in his choices and the accompanying narrative that his decisions were made based on a focus on winning first.   And that accountability and performance matter more than any other factor.   

This is a critical offseason for Cal's Athletic Department and the Football program in particular.  Among the key areas of focus is how Justin Wilcox approaches the makeup of his coaching staff for 2024.  

Discussion from...

Cal's Football Staff and what it says about the Bears commitment to winning

11,154 Views | 48 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by calumnus
Cal89
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Nofado said:

The first five games don't really count in terms of how much we've improved. I would look at the last three games as a barometer.
Sort of reminds me of Cal fans exclaiming, after a loss, that we won the 4th quarter or the 2nd half. It gets old after a few decades...

That said, I'll play along. The same telling offensive metrics for Cal's November games:

Scoring: 6th best in the Pac
Yards/play: 8th
Yards/rush: 4th
Yards/attempt: 9th
3rd down conv rate: 8th

Yup, a little better, but it still remains subpar. And yet some are acting like we lost an OC to die for... We didn't.
Sig test...
ninetyfourbear
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Cal_79 said:

"Jake Spavital is a good offensive mind and the offensive improvement for the Bears in 2023 was meaningful, but based on everything that we know, he had to leave."

What do you mean? Why is it Spavital had to leave?



Can we argue about math later and instead find out why "Spavital had to leave"?
concordtom
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Econ141 said:

Oh great - another critical year for Cal football.
……
We will be left searching for coaches and assistants over and over again until we die out.


1st sentence…last sentence.

Yes, people here have indeed been dying out. For decades.
concordtom
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Michael Lewis lives locally.
Cal should ask him to gives a Money Ball presentation, because we are the Oakland A's.
hbear777
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stats compared to the greatest collection of QB's ,off in the history of fball in one conf.
And Nix 5 yrs/penix 6 calsb 3,DJU 3,ward forever...
the eye test was a functioning offense and had to switch from SJV as he wouldn't take shots, he bacjked off keeping rpo's and kept throwing to check downs. ..growing pains that became an offense that could respond when needed to opponents scores and mo- that impressed the most, mendoza and the O would stick with it and within the scheme and answer, often.
Shocky1
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Shocky1 said:

greg, my take is that the challenges facing both the football & basketball programs start with the athletic director which in this opinion piece (which is appreciated) still neglects his malfeasance & financial mismanagement and misappropriation of resources which have critically impacted both programs

due to the athletic director tryna fund 30+ financially unsustainable sports, the cal football program has lacked the coaching salaries & nutrition/s&c program as monies have been redirected to women's field hockey & men's soccer, etc

does it concern you that knowlton is the only athletic director that plays dodgeball with all interview requests or that he don't got an active twitter account?...does it bother you that he secretly borrowed $11,000,000+ from the central campus which i uncovered thru public information requests?...does it make sense to you that he says we're receiving a full share from the acc but "donating" tens of millions of dollars back to the conference?...is he gonna sign the 4th occ contract for a 2024 game against a nationally ranked oregon state despite the acc commish telling him recently to schedule a mid major in mid season to ensure bowl eligibility?...why did he hire the unqualified & obstinate markeisha as the marketing director who refuses to allow all berkeley students to attend all games for free despite the current haas season average attendance of 2500+?...how can this site never run an article re: the athletic director being under investigation by an outside law firm (not munger) by the chancellor's office that could result in his termination?

until you & the bearinsider.com take a stance against james athur knowlton cal athletics is not gonna reach its potential, justin wilcox is not the problem

your writing an opinion piece which doesn't even mention knowlton is honestly kinda bizarro but i always respected that you also bleed blue & gold

as a starting point to maybe starting a long overdue positive conversation between us re: cal athletics perhaps you could share with me your thoughts on the director of football operations andrew mcgraw?
greg, you wrote "the critical importance of a fulsome alignment between the Chancellor, the AD, and the head coach in this regard"...can you clarify this comment?

as you know chancellor christ only just recently found out how much cal football players are earning in nil payments & basically went crazy demanding that female bears earn the same amount...wuzn't knolwton intentionally keeping her in the dark re: fb nil payments?

i've always been a supporter of carol despite her getting lied to by knowlton re: the northwestern opening but at this point her july of 2024 retirement can't happen soon enough

there is literally nobody in the football program that respects knowlton & very few people in the athletic department other than his core group of useless bureaucrats including his confidante jenny & the obstinate markesiha that don't try to dip out to avoid speaking with him

looking forward to your feedback
Shocky1
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greg, ready your latest opinion & we're in agreement that cal football is in an existential place right now

but disagree with your conclusion that this is upon the next chancellor, that's not even close to reality in my opinion

the real problem is james arthur knowlton who has worked against the revenue sports from day one & unlike chancellor christ might still be around after she's gone on july 1st of 2024

asking fans to donate to an endeavor that wastes money with worthless bureaucrats & 30+ financially unsustainable sports is just wasting good money after bad money in the minds of many

knowlton is cancer for cal football...period


upsetof86
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Shocky1 said:

greg, ready your latest opinion & we're in agreement that cal football is in an existential place right now

but disagree with your conclusion that this is upon the next chancellor, that's not even close to reality in my opinion

the real problem is james arthur knowlton who has worked against the revenue sports from day one & unlike chancellor christ might still be around after she's gone on july 1st of 2024

asking fans to donate to an endeavor that wastes money with worthless bureaucrats & 30+ financially unsustainable sports is just wasting good money after bad money in the minds of many

knowlton is cancer for cal football...period





Yes I have been so uninterested in supporting the fantasy that is we can afford all of these non revenue sports. Who do we think we are?? Cut them. I don't care about those legacies.
Shocky1
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100% upset, not prioritizing football is eventually gonna adversely impact all the non revenue sports in berkeley

clown show athletic director#
Econ141
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Shocky1 said:

Shocky1 said:

greg, my take is that the challenges facing both the football & basketball programs start with the athletic director which in this opinion piece (which is appreciated) still neglects his malfeasance & financial mismanagement and misappropriation of resources which have critically impacted both programs

due to the athletic director tryna fund 30+ financially unsustainable sports, the cal football program has lacked the coaching salaries & nutrition/s&c program as monies have been redirected to women's field hockey & men's soccer, etc

does it concern you that knowlton is the only athletic director that plays dodgeball with all interview requests or that he don't got an active twitter account?...does it bother you that he secretly borrowed $11,000,000+ from the central campus which i uncovered thru public information requests?...does it make sense to you that he says we're receiving a full share from the acc but "donating" tens of millions of dollars back to the conference?...is he gonna sign the 4th occ contract for a 2024 game against a nationally ranked oregon state despite the acc commish telling him recently to schedule a mid major in mid season to ensure bowl eligibility?...why did he hire the unqualified & obstinate markeisha as the marketing director who refuses to allow all berkeley students to attend all games for free despite the current haas season average attendance of 2500+?...how can this site never run an article re: the athletic director being under investigation by an outside law firm (not munger) by the chancellor's office that could result in his termination?

until you & the bearinsider.com take a stance against james athur knowlton cal athletics is not gonna reach its potential, justin wilcox is not the problem

your writing an opinion piece which doesn't even mention knowlton is honestly kinda bizarro but i always respected that you also bleed blue & gold

as a starting point to maybe starting a long overdue positive conversation between us re: cal athletics perhaps you could share with me your thoughts on the director of football operations andrew mcgraw?
greg, you wrote "the critical importance of a fulsome alignment between the Chancellor, the AD, and the head coach in this regard"...can you clarify this comment?

as you know chancellor christ only just recently found out how much cal football players are earning in nil payments & basically went crazy demanding that female bears earn the same amount...wuzn't knolwton intentionally keeping her in the dark re: fb nil payments?

i've always been a supporter of carol despite her getting lied to by knowlton re: the northwestern opening but at this point her july of 2024 retirement can't happen soon enough

there is literally nobody in the football program that respects knowlton & very few people in the athletic department other than his core group of useless bureaucrats including his confidante jenny & the obstinate markesiha that don't try to dip out to avoid speaking with him

looking forward to your feedback


How disinterested must she be in football to not know the NIL situation? And then to think female bears should get paid that much? Has she gone senile? She absolutely cannot retire fast enough. This is the exact mentality that got us here and she still hasn't learned?!? Jesus Christ I get nervous reading every post about these two idiots ruining the football program.

And folks keep patting her on the back because of the stadium debt? Any floozy could have done that.
Shocky1
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cal's monster class exclusive update:

the cal athletic department has borrowed $11,000,000 from the central campus instead of cutting teams/rightsizing the internal bureaucracy

cfo tom lowry has responded to my public information requests with the following statement:

"In FY 22, Cal Athletics borrowed $11M from Central Campus to help offset short term revenue losses, and properly characterized the loan for NCCA and external audit reporting. Campus agreed to provide an $11M interest only/forgiveable loan (FY22), with a 29 year loan (FY22-FY51), interest/payment free for ten years (FY22-32), at a 3% interest rate."

question for greg richardson: is secretly borrowing money from the central campus instead of reducing costs/cutting sports a financially sustainable course of action?
Shocky1
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Quote:



update re: yesterday's zoom call between knowlton & the acc commish

the acc commish is encouraging cal to play more west coast teams in non conference play particularly mid majors during the middle of acc conference play

the commish fully understands (unlike the con artist) the importance of the sec football scheduling model of a-c-c-d games to ensure bowl eligibility

right now the bears for 2024 got an "a" game at auburn, a "b" game hosting san diego state & a "d" game hosting uc davis

it's absolutely critical that in cal's inaugural 2024 season in the acc that bowl eligibility is achieved from both a recruiting & fan base energy standpoint...there's gonna be another round of conference realignment in the future & if the bears aren't a perennial bowl team we're gonna be left behind, the mountain west is a death blow...reality is that cal is the acc because of the lobbying efforts of stanford's condeleezza rice & notre dame's jack swarbrick, it got nothing to do with jim or carol who wuz sitting on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets eating popcorn

so that's why not signing the oregon state and/or washington state future football game contracts that are sitting on knowlton's desk awaiting his signature should never be executed, the con artist is awaiting both schools dropping their lawsuits against the departing pac 12 schools

oregon state is a nationally ranked team that could mean cal is not bowl eligible in 2024, the bears got zero recruits from oregon in the current high school class & the fan base got zero interest in traveling to a drizzly azz truck stop town like corvallis anymore

the bears will be playing the irish in the future but not until the current notre dame/stanford series is done in 2025 & the nd tv deal with nbc is finalized...right now it's looking like 3 to 5 games during the next 12 years

the acc comish is working to replace the big 10 in the rose bowl, he's already got deals in place with the holiday bowl & the la bowl (which would be a huge boost for cal recruiting in so cal with usc & ucla games never happening again) for acc teams

not surprisingly at the end of the zoom, knowlton made a cheap shot comment about larry & george as pac 12 commishs which is ironically disingenuous coming from the worst/least qualified athletic director in the nation who plays dodgeball with every interview request

yeah the con artist is continuing his degradation of cal revenue sports, the 4th out of conference game for 2024 is absolutely critical with respects to the upward trajectory of the cal football program...he's made in clear he's not gonna cut any sports or reduce any of his massive infrastructure of worthless bureaucrats like himself & markeisha, financial comprehension/responsibility is not in his tool kit

only a dumb **** would schedule oregon state for 2024 (or extend mark fox's contract)

cap
cal's dumb as **** athletic director has signed the 2024 oregon state contract as 1st reported here, knowlton's clueless enablers will tell you the beavers are a beatable team but reality is that they've been a nationally ranked team the last 2 years & with martinez returning at rb they will be a 50/50 game for the bears next season

james arthur knowlton signed the oregon state contract despite the acc commish telling him to schedule a mid major mid season to ensure as many acc teams as possible are bowl eligible
calumnus
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Shocky1 said:


Quote:



update re: yesterday's zoom call between knowlton & the acc commish

the acc commish is encouraging cal to play more west coast teams in non conference play particularly mid majors during the middle of acc conference play

the commish fully understands (unlike the con artist) the importance of the sec football scheduling model of a-c-c-d games to ensure bowl eligibility

right now the bears for 2024 got an "a" game at auburn, a "b" game hosting san diego state & a "d" game hosting uc davis

it's absolutely critical that in cal's inaugural 2024 season in the acc that bowl eligibility is achieved from both a recruiting & fan base energy standpoint...there's gonna be another round of conference realignment in the future & if the bears aren't a perennial bowl team we're gonna be left behind, the mountain west is a death blow...reality is that cal is the acc because of the lobbying efforts of stanford's condeleezza rice & notre dame's jack swarbrick, it got nothing to do with jim or carol who wuz sitting on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets eating popcorn

so that's why not signing the oregon state and/or washington state future football game contracts that are sitting on knowlton's desk awaiting his signature should never be executed, the con artist is awaiting both schools dropping their lawsuits against the departing pac 12 schools

oregon state is a nationally ranked team that could mean cal is not bowl eligible in 2024, the bears got zero recruits from oregon in the current high school class & the fan base got zero interest in traveling to a drizzly azz truck stop town like corvallis anymore

the bears will be playing the irish in the future but not until the current notre dame/stanford series is done in 2025 & the nd tv deal with nbc is finalized...right now it's looking like 3 to 5 games during the next 12 years

the acc comish is working to replace the big 10 in the rose bowl, he's already got deals in place with the holiday bowl & the la bowl (which would be a huge boost for cal recruiting in so cal with usc & ucla games never happening again) for acc teams

not surprisingly at the end of the zoom, knowlton made a cheap shot comment about larry & george as pac 12 commishs which is ironically disingenuous coming from the worst/least qualified athletic director in the nation who plays dodgeball with every interview request

yeah the con artist is continuing his degradation of cal revenue sports, the 4th out of conference game for 2024 is absolutely critical with respects to the upward trajectory of the cal football program...he's made in clear he's not gonna cut any sports or reduce any of his massive infrastructure of worthless bureaucrats like himself & markeisha, financial comprehension/responsibility is not in his tool kit

only a dumb **** would schedule oregon state for 2024 (or extend mark fox's contract)

cap
cal's dumb as **** athletic director has signed the 2024 oregon state contract as 1st reported here, knowlton's clueless enablers will tell you the beavers are a beatable team but reality is that they've been a nationally ranked team the last 2 years & with martinez returning at rb they will be a 50/50 game for the bears next season

james arthur knowlton signed the oregon state contract despite the acc commish telling him to schedule a mid major mid season to ensure as many acc teams as possible are bowl eligible


He has more loyalty to his friends in the MWC than to the ACC or Cal for that matter.

That said, we can still add Hawaii for a 13th game under the Hawaii exception.
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