(I understand if you're on Tosh.no mode after our previous post on the subject. It's ok. Just move along, read our preview of the Washington State Cougars, and wait for more posts on basketball or other Cal sports. But we do know there are many interested in more details, so here you go.)
Jim McGill of Bear Insider has been all over the Tosh Lupoi news from the beginning, and he went on public record for the first time giving us an outlined account of what really went down. We have to give kudos to McGill, who has been working this story from every angle and has done an excellent job covering the story.
McGill went on radio with 950 KJR Seattle last night to talk about the Tosh situation for a good 15-20 minutes with Husky radio guys, and a lot of interesting details leaked out about what exactly happened to lead to Lupoi's dramatic departure from the Bay Area. There's more good stuff on the interview about Kiesau and recruits in general, but let's focus on the Tosh aspects.
It's not a situation that makes anyone look particularly great. But Tosh still comes off looking the worst.
Let's start with why Tosh had trouble getting a raise.
One of the first enemies seems to be a foe we all hate: bureaucracy. Despite Jeff Tedford having general power over his football department and overall hires, it appears to be much, much harder to issue someone a raise. Both Tedford and the administration would've had to sign off on Lupoi getting the raise he desired. And you can imagine that such a decision would've taken time to settle.
Also, there were plenty of complicated questions that had to be settled between Tedford and the administration. McGill touches on those questions.
"Do you pay a position coach far more than you're paying the other position coaches? Do you pay him more than you pay the other coordinators? Do you scrap the idea of tenure?"
It didn't appear that finances wouldn't have been too much of an issue that would have kept a good raise from being made. Cal boosters should have been able to swoop in and cover the raise (McGill says they help cover up to two-thirds of Tedford's salary). As has been mentioned before, Tedford did manage to guarantee an offer that would've taken him up to $300k or so, which probably made him the top paid assistant on staff. I'm sure this couldn't have been easy for the rest of the staff to swallow, but Tosh was so crucial to this class they were willing to bite on it. But these questions seem to have been dragging along the process longer, and it wasn't enough for Lupoi to wait.
(If you're to believe the initial rumors, Tedford also asked Lupoi straight up whether he would be ok with $300k and that he would stop fielding offers from Washington. Tosh said no, UW handed him a better offer, and Lupoi set sail--literally.)
That's not the only issue though. It appears Lupoi didn't have friends on the staff.
"Lupoi got a lot of adulation for his recruiting ability ... He was starting to get a lot of accolades that put him above the rest of the staff in the public's mind. And Tedford kind of chafed at that. Some of the other coaches kind of chafed at that. And I think there was a perception there that it kind of got to his [Tosh's] head a little bit."
"On Lupoi's side, he felt underappreciated. He didn't feel like he got the credit he deserved for the effort he was putting in and the results he was getting. And so that was sort of a situation that was growing over time."
"Even if you're a little put off by a young guy getting a big head, you figure out how to incorporate him into the overall framework instead of downplaying him a little and
It's debatable who really has that sway. I'd guess Pendergast wouldn't have been happy with his D-line coach making more than him, which is sensible--the man has to put together the schemes on gameday, and that is much more of a performance-based job. Recruiting is great, but on-field results are what coaches get graded for. However, Pendergast is an NFL guy, so it's hard to say whether he'd be here a long time. Lupoi did (at least up until last week) seemed like a guy who would be here a long time.
So the only other two guys who've been around long enough who would probably be chafed would be Gould (who has been here a long time, and doesn't get nearly enough credit for his recruiting prowess) and MIchalczik (who has been with Tedford for all but a two year interlude). Thompson has been here as long as Lupoi, and everyone else shorter.
I agree with McGill's assessment that regardless of Lupoi's ruffling of feathers with the staff, they should have done their best to at least work with him productively based on the results he was generating with the players we were landing. If Lupoi didn't feel so unappreciated, perhaps he wouldn't have made the poor lapses of judgment he now has to live with for the rest of his college coaching career, and perhaps Cal coaches wouldn't be left trying to clean up his mess the next few weeks.
However, it's clear this was a situation that was developing over time. If you try and nurture an ego, there's a good chance it only gets bigger, and it becomes a detriment to the overall mission of the staff. If you ignore it, you get Tosh on a boat.
And of course (how can we ignore it?), Injury-gate. Yes, it was a factor. But it was NOT the primary reason why Tosh left. However, McGill seems to believe through his sources that Tosh was acting alone and was not doing it through Tedford's orders.
"There was definitely strain involved and Lupoi felt that he was scapegoated for getting suspended. My knowledge of it is that if he had not commented publicly on the situation, they probably would not have felt forced to make any kind of statement or take any action, but because he was the one commenting, he was the one who had to take a fall for it."
"There's disagreement on who exactly planned it. I hear more often ... that it was his idea because he had seen it done before. It's technically within the rulebook, it's not a penalty to have guys take time and you see it all years long, it got magnified with Cal because it was the first close game [Oregon] had. There's no way to know for certain."
"There were hard feelings there. That was kind of one brick in the wall. There's no way that something like that would drive such a severe wedge that he'd take off ... It's just sort of something that's in his mind, a pattern of unappreciation and maybe disrespect that he was willing to make a move even though he had a lot invested here. "
All those slights brought us to the climax of our story. McGill later went on to talk about how Justin Wilcox (linebacker coach back when Lupoi was a Cal D-lineman) came after him when he was at Tennessee, but Tosh still hesitated because he owed a lot to Tedford for giving him the job in the first place. However, when Wilcox ended up in Washington, he and Sark made a concerted effort to push Lupoi's buttons about how underappreciated he felt at Cal, and how Washington would treat him like a king. You know, half million and a boat tends to be a decent asking price. It's not a surprise that he took this offer.
See, nothing is really wrong with this story so far. The administration didn't go all-out to appease Lupoi, and it's debatable whether they should have. The coaching staff didn't go all-out to appease or accommodate Lupoi, and it's debatable whether they should have. Because he isn't willing to wait for his new deal with the team he loved so much, Lupoi walks to UW because of these slights, plus more money and a boat.
Nothing is too wrong with this. This is college football, this is a business, there's little you can do, you take the best offer you can get. It makes Tosh a mercenary just like everyone else and a bit of a liar to the recruits, which will tarnish his image, but hey, if those are where your priorities lie, so be it, you'll learn the hard way that Washington isn't as easy to sell as Cal.
Story over, right? Except ... the ball is still loose!
"Lupoi was out with Tedford on an official visit to Shaq Thompson's house and he stayed later Tedford had to take off and at some point during the night, Thompson said that he ... was asking him more questions about his [Tosh's] future and he got him to break down a little and got him to say "I may be making a move to Washington, I don't know yet.""
"He came in after the visit ... came back to the office, cleared it out in the middle of the night, on a day before the holiday when virtually no one was in the office, started communicating with recruits right away before the Cal coaches knew he was even gone, and telling them not only "Take a look at Washington, I'm headed there" but "Don't go to Cal.""
"So he was supposed to meet Tedford at the airport for a trip back East on an important recruiting trip. Tedford was there waiting for him, and he didn't show. And he eventually called and got his voicemail, presumably when he was in the air."
Interviewer: "Did Tedford have any clue?"
"...Do you think he would've had him at Shaq Thompson's house? There's no way."
You can read between the lines here.
This seems to corroborate that Tedford believed that Tosh would be taking the offer Cal had presented him with, and could coincide with the first report that indicated that Tosh HAD told Tedford he was done negotiating with UW. As McGill, there's no way Tedford brings Lupoi with him to Shaq's house unless he's 100% dead-certain that both of them will be sharing the same sideline in 2012. Someone was being deceived.
So imagine Tedford making a trip to the East Coast confused as to where his recruiting coach is, either finding out via phone or finding out when he steps off the plane. He's ready to make the pitch of Cal tradition to some of the big targets Cal has been looking at and Tosh found his coach, like a Stefon Diggs or Darius Hamilton. Then he has to explain to the recruits they were planning to look at out East where Tosh is, then has to fly all the way back cross-country to move into a week of total damage control.
All the while he's making the trip, unbeknownst to Tedford, Tosh is telling the prize of the class that he might not be there next year, and later encouraging him to join him in UW. And then while the rest of Golden Bear Nation is waking up to some shocking holiday news, he calls these guys up along with everyone else, after preaching the Cal tradition and what it means to be part of the Cal family, and says the four words that ensure you'll never be part of the family again: "Don't go to Cal."
And now you know it. You can tell the story. You can tell the whole damn world why Tosh Lupoi will always be a traitor in Bear Territory.
Again, listen to the full podcast--which has plenty of other stuff on Lupoi, Kiesau, recruiting and more--by clicking here. You can check out McGill at Bear Insider, and he posts on the message boards under the name MoragaBear.