Cal Football - Where Do We Go?
I'll be the first to admit I was shellshocked by the news, first of Lupoi's abrupt exit and Kiesau's ensuing departure.
And the events didn't hurt as much as envoke questions of confusion and quite honestly, anger.
But honestly, I think we're going to be okay. I'm likely a few months a way from stating this with utter conviction, but I really do think Cal fans have reason to believe we'll be alright.
A few things can be gleaned here.
First off, Tedford and the administration have likely learned a lot, though in a painful way. While most of my anger lies in the circumstances of Lupoi's departure, I do think it's not unfair to think Tedford and Sandy Barbour shoulder some responsibility. Did Tedford realize what he had with Lupoi and do all he could do make it as financially worthwhile as possible for Lupoi to stay. Did he open up all reasonable careers path for Lupoi at Cal? Did he know that he had one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country on staff and did he know he'd have to fight tooth and nail for his services? Was there ever a moment that Lupoi felt reasonably undervalued with the Bears? And let's not forget that Injury Gate raises a few eyebrows.
Again, the distinction is not just how much Tedford and Barbour could pay Lupoi. They can't compete with the ludicrous salary Washington is paying Lupoi, and I'm pretty sure most boats in the SF Bay suck. But it's not just about the money. It's about the sense of being valued and assurance that there is a path to career development. Surely any working man or woman can understand that.
It certainly forces Tedford to take a painful look at his staff as well as his relationship with them. It can always become an issue, and Tedford can always look back at this fiasco of a situation and wonder what if. And hopefully, it makes him a better coach.
Secondly, in terms of the recruiting fall out, Cal has gone from likely having a Top 5 class (its best ever), to be lucky to have a Top 15. The Bears have already lost 5 star DT Ellis McCarthy and are likely to lose a few others. I'm thinking two or three.
The good news isn't too bright here, but it is worth noting. First off, the biggest hit in this recruiting class will be at the defensive line position, an area where the Bears are loaded. This doesn't take away from the fact that the Bears were on the verge of landing three or four 5 star prospects, each who could have been early impact players. However, knowing that the Bears entire two deep is comprised of young redshirt freshmen and sophomores, each who were very prized recruits in their own right does provide some solace. If the hits had taken place all along the secondary, than I'd be far more scared. And this class will still be very solid.
Also, and this might be the more important point, whoever does end up sticking with the Bears through signing day will affirm their commitment to Cal and not to the dream of playing for a particular coach. I'll touch upon this in coming months, but even Cal's best recruiting classes has fallen victim to recruits who chose Cal for all the wrong reasons, or who were too immature to understand what it meant to commit to a school.
This is far from saying, "Good riddance" to those who spurn the Bears at this juncture. Instead, I almost masochistically welcome the opportunity for Cal's recruits to affirm why they pledged to be Bears, for a world class education, a true sense of community, as solid of a shot as any to play in the pros, and a chance to be build truly something special in Berkeley. Put simply, the kids who want to be here, will be here for the right reasons.
Finally, anyone envying the coaching situation up in Washington doesn't have a long term perspective here. Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi aren't staying at Washington forever. I'd be absolutely shocked if they're still in Seattle in four years in fact. Wilcox is going to get a shot at being a head coach somewhere very soon (especially if Washington's defense shows anything close to a pulse this year), and Lupoi will snatch up a defensive coordinator role, likely with Wilcox soon thereafter.
The Huskies will enjoy some success due to some really solid assistant coaches, and will get some nice classes, but it's not going to last.
And on Tosh Lupoi's future, we know he can flat out recruit. We've established that. And he'll continue to succeed. But you can sure as heck bet that his credibility has taken a major hit. I'd love to be there when a parent who has caught wind of all this commotion has to look him in the eyes and ask him, "How do I know for sure you're not going to just leave in a year?" Because after this, no one does.
And suddenly, Washington somehow became that much easier to hate. I'm just confused as to who exactly I should be directing my hatred towards.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Cal Football - Where Do We Go?