Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Two big sticking issues that will be a factor in the success of the new regime will be improving how well Cal compensates its coaching staff and how well they support their student-athletes.
If you haven't gotten a chance to read the full context of the interview Jeff Faraudo managed to secure with Jeff Tedford, you should. There's a lot of current tidbits that are definitely worth looking at that give you a pretty full scope of what went right and what went wrong during Tedford's time here. Faraudo also got a response from athletic director Sandy Barbour, who had plenty to say the issues.
Let's focus on two subjects that have always been hot topics of debate. The first is assistant coaching salaries, and whether Tedford was always able to hire the best and brightest. It seems like he felt more could've been done.
– Did the salaries of your assistant coaches need to be higher to keep them from other schools?
"It wasn’t just the (dollar) numbers. There are things with the coaches’ contracts that could definitely be improved. Their contracts are structured where there is only so much (money) guaranteed. People can use that as a recruiting tool against Cal. That’s what I was told at the time — I’m going to have a hard time keeping coaches because of the structure of their contracts."
– You talked to the administration about it?
"It really wasn’t going to change. It’s just the way it’s done there. It was evident to me it was a problem."
Barbour's answer isn't quite so conclusive.
"All I can say to that is we continue to monitor the market place and do what we can do to be competitive. We had significantly more guys on multi-year contracts (then) than we do now."
Indeed, there were definitely plenty of Cal coaches on multi-year contracts to ensure stability in the coaching ranks, but there isn't really mention of salaries. Cal assistants weren't underpaid in general, but relative to the Bay Area market they probably weren't doing quite as well as a few other of their Pac-12 counterparts. There was quite a bit of turnover as numerous coaches ended up departing during Tedford's tenure, even for lateral or even downward steps on the college football coaching ladder.
Will Dykes face a similar problem? If the new coaching staff is successful, will the Bears find the necessary funds to ensure that everyone from the current staff can stick around?
– Talk about the low graduation rate revealed by the NCAA’s academic progress report (APR). How did it get so bad and how much do you think it played into Sandy’s decision?
"The problem with averages is if you have a couple bad numbers then it’s going to bring the average down until you can get that off the books. That’s the thing that bothered me the most, that we didn’t care or invest in the academic piece. We spent a lot of time with that."
– What had you done previously to try to remedy that? Did you seek help from the administration? What was their response?
"I always asked for more resources and support. Felt like we were doing a lot of good things. But a couple years there were bad numbers."
– How much did that affect your status?
"I think a lot. Which is fair enough. I was as troubled by it as anyone. When it came out in the summertime, then all of a sudden there was a red flag there. We really put a lot of emphasis on academics, more so than ever about the value of getting things done on time. We didn’t have guys ineligible . . . very rarely. The thing that hurt us is people would go all the way through the be one semester short and take off to try out for the NFL and then not come back and finish the one or two classes they had to finish. That was one of the big problems — people not finishing.
"Over this last year, I made a big push to get someone to get these people to come back, to reach out to them. I hired somebody around midseason to do that. Because that’s where a lot of the numbers were lagging."
Barbour again was careful with her answers about support.
On the administration’s support of the football academic support staff:
"My response to that is we continually evaluate. Do we have the right amount of academic support, because it is a priority. At the end of Jeff’s tenure, we had three times the academic support in terms of personnel that we did when I got here in 2004."
On Tedford’s contention that the biggest academic problem was players leaving after their senior season and not returning to school to complete their degrees:
"That’s correct. It was not a matter of football stufdent-athletes flunking out. We got to really examine where the issues were and kids got pretty much to the end and then just didn’t finish."
It's quite clear Dykes has gotten the academic memo. Many of the freshman recruited to Cal clearly seem to be not only enthusiastic about becoming Bears but also more ready to fit the profile. However the lack of support staff is worrisome because it's a lot easier to be successful in high school than it is in college.
Even regular students have trouble acclimating to college life. If there isn't enough support for the football players, will it only be a matter of time before the Bears face these APR troubles once again?
What do you see as a bigger problem for Cal football long-term? Retaining assistant coaches? Or long-term academic support for the students?