Happy 2011! And some of you probably believe you received some final cheery news before the calendars turned. So let's clear up some of the biggest questions about the return of Kiesau to Strawberry Canyon.
What does being the passing game coordinator mean? Does Kiesau call plays?
The passing game coordinator is generally someone who directly supervises the quarterback and the receivers and makes sure the offense keeps humming in conjunction we run. The Raiders had something similar a few years back with Ted Tollner.
My responsibility is to organize the passing game from concepts, personnel, formations, to hit all the situations whether it’s a mix down, third down, any of those things.
For people asking for someone to take a direct role in supervising the vital Cal pass attack, it looks like Tedford found his man in Kiesau. Some people were asking for Tedford to be the direct supervisor, but he's worked with Kiesau for four years, and they probably know each other pretty well and what they want from each other.
He also has experience with this position. Kiesau was the passing game coordinator at Colorado for a few years before taking over quarterback coaching/offensive coordinator duties the past two years. It seemed to pay dividends; in 2008 four Buffaloes receivers caught 29 passes or more; in 2007 it was five. Scotty McKnight led the way, with 93 catches over the two season period.
Also, Kiesau's period as Colorado's coach coincided with the Cody Hawkins era at quarterback, which wasn't exactly one Buffaloes fans will remember fondly. That he was able to achieve that much production out of the receiving game is a point in his favor.
As for calling plays, I'd guess no. Kiesau might very well be involved with the gameplanning and designing what type of passing plays are utilized based on what he's seen in practice, but I'd guess Andy Ludwig [or whoever the offensive coordinator is] will still be the dedicated playcaller next season. Kiesau didn't exactly light it up as an OC the past two years anyway, so it's probably best if there's one person calling plays.
Why would Kiesau come back to Cal, given that the prevailing wisdom was that he was tired of the extended working hours?
I'm guessing the addition of a new position would probably mean an elevated salary of some sort, which would mean higher tolerance for long work hours. It could also be possible that the work regimen has changed from the earlier Tedford years, given the numerous reports of Tedford loosening up the reins from the early days.
Of course, probably the biggest factor was Colorado releasing him in the first place because of the new staff coming in. Jon Embree went and took Vikings running back coach Eric Bieniemy as the new offensive coordinator, meaning Kiesau was the odd man out.
I'm young and dumb. What's so great about Kiesau?
Fitting and developing guys into the offense, regardless of talent level. Jonathan Makonnen and LaShaun Ward had 93 catches in 2002. Burl Toler and Vinnie Strang were walk-ons and combined for 65 catches in 2003. Of course, we can't talk about Kiesau without talking about how great Geoff McArthur developed in that offense.
Why didn't we go after McArthur, who's recently become a receiver coach at Lindenwood?
McArthur probably has a lot of upside, and was mentioned as a potential candidate for the job by Rivals. But ultimately experience played the big factor--it's only his first year as a receiver coach, and Lindenwood is in the NAIA. It might be worth revisiting McArthur's candidacy down the road as he starts to accrue more reps as a wide receiver coach. Right now there probably isn't enough evidence that he can develop and/or recruit big-time talent.
I doubt this is the last we've heard of McArthur as a Cal coaching candidate though. Watch out for him.
Final sidenote: There were plenty of criticisms of Kevin Daft's time at Cal, and a lot of them were admittedly deserved. But one of the inferences that didn't appear to make much sense.
"Daft was a quarterback. How can he be qualified to be a wide receiver coach?"
Well, guess which position Kiesau played in college? Yep. Didn't seem to stop him from being successful.
The biggest knock on Daft was that his units underperformed, but to say he was unqualified to be a wide receiver coach because he played quarterback seems a little far-fetched.