So National Signing Day approaches, and Cal isn't likely to land many big stars. It's even quite possible we could lose a few players we really like too. For the second straight year, Cal fans might have a few more bad memories than good.
But let's face it. Recruiting kind of pampered us the last few years. And after the season we had, it's more of a matter of getting whoever we can get who wants to be here.
Things have been a lot better than they should have been. Our teams were not very good, yet here we were landing top recruiting classes year after year. We finished sixth in the Pac-10 and landed a top 25 class. We didn't make a bowl and things somehow get better. It was like when Mr. Bean would make his life harder than it should be, yet everything seemed to work out in the end and he'd make that smile. Yeah that one.
But we should've sensed that this wasn't always necessarily a good thing. With Coach Lupoi in charge of recruiting (and Coach Tedford kind of enabling it), Cal football drifted further away from the principles that ensured its success in the first half of his tenure. The Bears took on a lot more academic risks than they should have (and have lost plenty of them down the road), and that seeming lack of discipline off the field translated to the gridiron as well. Effort seemed to drop off and the team finally funked into a malaise after numerous players from those recruiting classes just didn't match the standard that had been set from them in high school.
Sonny Dykes seems to be a bit more proactive in finding the players that match the Cal profile in terms of academic and athletic accomplishment. It looks as if all the Bears in this class will have 3.0+ GPAs and many do have scholarly aspirations beyond football. It's not to say that the last couple of Tedford teams were filled with jocks who skipped out (there were plenty of great guys), but it'd be nice to see that focus be unanimous throughout the locker room to ensure better team cohesion.
Right now Cal has bigger worries than just recruiting the best players. They need to find the players who will stick and will perform in all aspects of the Berkeley experience, not just skirt by on academics. If they aren't doing both (or giving their maximal effort in either field), it's really hard to imagine that the team is giving it their all when they should be.
As the latest APR scores and graduation rates have shown, the situation has been de-prioritized to a pretty significant degree, and it's probably been a significant factor in our team's decline. If our players aren't embracing every aspect of being a Bear, how can we expect them to excel when they walk in front of us in blue and gold? There are definitely talented players our there that are ready to contribute athletically, but if they don't meet the demands academically how can they not feel marginalized?
Now, there are certain things that stink, particularly when it comes to filling up needs. We could very well strike out in a position of need (safety) and also do very little to improve our running back situation (we're losing two backs, possibly more, and despite getting one good talent we could definitely use one more). Cal might have only a tiny margin for error here the next year or two depending on how well we stockpile for next season.
There is some good. We are bulking back up on both lines. We'll have plenty of offensive linemen and decent defensive line talent, both of which will be necessary to anchor back units that are probably deficient in depth. We have another quarterback that is here and ready to become another contributor to a rotation that has to produce a good signal-caller.
And yes, it is frustrating to see not just USC do their thing (they could remove scholarships and they'd probably still end up in the top 25 because USC). It's annoying to see UCLA reap the rewards and land many of the numerous significant California recruits out there and stockpile themselves quite nicely for the next half-decade. It's really annoying to see Oregon try and flip our recruits (and have a good chance at succeeding), and also to see Washington poach many of our stomping grounds for talent. Right now Cal is right at the middle of Pac-12 recruiting when they could probably be at least a few spots higher.
But in general we can't complain too much. The program has trended downward. There is a lot of damage to undo. That Cal is even getting these many players to become Bears in a short period of time is a testament to the new coaching staff, their ability to hit the trail and find players regionally and nationally that could fit the Cal profile, and sell everything that our university has to offer. Our solutions this year are patchwork as Dykes and company try to lay down a new system which will be the foundation for years to come.
So Cal finished 3-9 last year. Their recruiting class will probably finish on the outskirts of the top 25 with some pretty good guys, although you're not going to be wowed out of your socks. None of them are likely to make a huge immediate impact, but they're there in the pipeline if needed. But it looks like the ones who are coming are ready to do everything that will make them great Bears, which is good enough for me. Is it good enough for you?
Discuss: What are your feelings on the 2013 recruiting class? Do you like what we've got, love what we've got, displeased with what we've got?
For those who want to check the new recruiting board, check below or click here for the full spreadsheet.