Charley Lu: What a blow for the upcoming 2013 season. With his head in the game, McCain's length and speed is hard to contain. He had a good chance to be all PAC-12 this yr heading into summer camp.
Fortunately, DE is a strong position for us. Barring any injury concerns, Todd Barr/Nathan Broussard/Kyle Kragen just earned themselves more playing time opposite of Brennan Scarlett. I've been high on Todd Barr and yearning for him to earn more playing time after watching offensive tackles having a hard time dealing with his explosiveness. Broussard also displayed a knack for pressuring QBs last season from the OLB position. Coaches have been raving from Kragen's motor. We should have enough depth to deal of the loss of McCain. I am keeping that sunshine pumped for 2013!
Leland Wong: While we do have some depth and Barr had some great plays in the backfield last year, McCain got much more playing time and was just a terror last season. The DEs behind him may end up being good, but they're all unproven commodities compared to McCain, who tallied 50 tackles last season; Broussard and Barr combined for only 30. Beyond that, McCain seemed like a fiery soul and a motivator for the defense. He was there to pump up our troops and keep the energy high when things were looking down. There were a few games where he was fighting the staff to let him back on the field after an injury. The other DEs may be able to replace his production, but will anyone be able to replace his passion?
Having said that, there is a silver lining. It's important for Dykes to emphasize his "winning everywhere" motto. Academics should absolutely matter at UC Berkeley and having this punishment for one of the defensive stars and an impact player shows that Dykes means business. This is some hard evidence that the other players will always keep in mind--they need to take academics seriously because Dykes takes academics seriously.
Vlad Belo: This is a blow to the defense as McCain was one of Cal's best defensive players. I have to think that Andy Buh had big plans having McCain as a DE in the new 4-3 scheme.
I also got the impression that McCain was a leader of the defense, a guy who could lead by example. While some may call McCain injury prone, I tend to think of him less pejoratively. I look at him as a guy who was willing to give it what he had and play through pain to help the team.
Chris McCain sacks Hundley (via TheBearInsider)
JahvidKnowsBest: Definitely a major blow for next year. A good 4-3 defense hinges upon good defensive ends who can both contain the run and get pressure on the quarterback. McCain was, in my opinion, our most proven defensive player going into next season. Fortunately, I think we have some relative depth in terms of this position, so at the end of the day I think we'll make do.
I'm interested into hearing more about this story. It seems strange to me that a player would be indefinitely kicked off the team for an entire season as a penalty. A similar case that comes to mind is Cecil Whiteside, but I remember him being given an opportunity to earn his spot back on the team after he was suspended.
Scott Chong: From a football standpoint, there's a huge drop-off at rush end when you sub out McCain for his backup, Dan Camporeale. Campo is a completely different player; he's smart and knows his assignments cold. However, he lacks the explosiveness to be an effective pass-rushing threat off the edge. As others have mentioned, JC transfer Kyle Kragen got some mention out of spring ball. It usually takes JC transfers a year to adjust to Pac-12 ball before they really make an impact, however.
Right now, Scarlett and Barr were listed as 1-2 at the DE spot which matches up with the offense's strong side. They're sturdier players so that they can hold the edge against running plays. Since Scarlett was an OLB last year, I wonder if we switch him to rush end and start Barr. This might not produce as many big plays as having McCain, but it could be more effective overall.
Looking at the big picture, this is exactly what we wanted from Coach Dykes. Academics are important and even one of the most important returning stars on our defense is not exempt. If we have any hope for the Dykes era to produce winning teams that represent our alma mater well, we have to support him when he lays down the law.
I hope that Chris McCain can get his act together. More for his own sake than anything else. If not, then you play with the players you can count on and I'm okay with that.
LeonPowe: There was a small hint of this -- not to this extent, but if you listened to the radio broadcast of the football games last season (and I don't know why you would, there is television) -- whoever the color commentator was (Pawlawski? Troy Taylor) talked about McCain's talent but that he came into camp out of shape and if you read between the lines, the commentator was hinting that there was some motivational issues. It all seemed very odd, because on the field McCain was a beast. Just making plays everywhere -- but it was mentioned that he was hurt because he "was out of shape" and the unspoken part was ". . . and didn't always do the work to be in shape"