In a somewhat surprising move, California Golden Bears defensive backs coach Al Simmons has left to pursue other opportunities. C.J. Moncrease tweeted that his coach was fired, but in either case, the result is a vacancy in the defensive coaching position.
Simmons, who was strongly pursued by head coach Jeff Tedford, had a spectacular start at Cal, as Syd'Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan combined to shut down Pac-10 passing offenses, defending 96 passes (breaking up 72 and intercepting the other 24), tops in the country. However, after 2008, those figures dropped to 58 and 56 the next two years--still effective, but the interception totals dropped precipitously (only 20 combined picks those two years). It's possible defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was displeased by the lack of turnovers forced by his defense (Cal only intercepted nine passes this year, 88th in the country).
In addition, the constant personnel shuffling--Marcus Ezeff starting despite missing practice time for classes, Chris Conte not finding his proper role until this season, Josh Hill struggling to find his role, Sean Cattouse regressing in his fundamentals despite having good individual talent, Bryant Nnbauife just struggling, Marc Anthony having trouble in run support--might have finally worn down Tedford. Finally, the fact that his pass defense played spectacular football but couldn't close the deal in crucial games, particularly against Arizona and at home versus Washington, while getting utterly routed against pro-style offenses like the Furd, USC and Oregon State must have been frustrating to deal with.
There is speculation that Ashley Ambrose (Colorado secondary coach) will take over the vacated spot, but CGB cannot confirm nor deny this information at this time. Once we know more, we'll inform you of the latest details. We wish Coach Simmons the best on his future endeavors.
Just a note: Avery Walls has already faxed in his LOI, and Tedford probably informed Walls that this decision was coming, so I very much doubt this will have any impact on his commitance to Cal.