We conclude our two-part chat with Grant Marek at Cal Rivals by highlighting the differences between the twilight of the Jeff Tedford regime and the dawn of the Sonny Dykes era. (If you missed Part I, click here!)
Discuss some of the personality or charisma differences between Tedford and Dykes and if the recruits are responding well to the change.
It's funny, I remember the day Jeff got the job. He was shaking hands and holding babies. 2002 Jeff Tedford was not a lot unlike 2013 Sonny Dykes.
But 2012 Jeff Tedford and 2013 Sonny Dykes?
Now those are two very different people. Through the years, and in particular when he started losing, Jeff became closed off -- to both the media and his players. He restricted access to practices, become more and more vague about injuries, and generally distrusted the media and the fan base. Whereas I shared a beer with 2003 Jeff Tedford after the Insight Bowl win, I couldn't even shake the hand of 2012 Jeff Tedford during Spring ball. He stopped being a part of the Cal community and didn't make an effort to have the team be part of it either.
It sucked frankly, to see 2002 Jeff Tedford -- a guy I think everyone enjoyed working with, a guy the fan base embraced, a guy who overcame so much in his life -- become what he did over the last few years.
In that regard, Sonny Dykes has been a breath of fresh air. He's been clear that this isn't his program, this is Cal's program. He has completely pulled back the curtain on his program. During the Spring, he didn't have press conferences he had pizza parties. He didn't make appearances at Cal basketball games he brought his whole freaking team. And it's not even just Sonny alone, he's brought with him a staff that embraces a different culture. Tony Franklin lives in a loft in downtown Berkeley. Zach Yenser is a five-minute walk from the stadium. Dykes is a 12-minute drive. At the Cal camp over the weekend, Pierre Ingram was holding his daughter up in the middle of 600 campers, for the Saturday night, camp-concluding "Go Bears-on-three." They're all on Twitter for crying out loud. EVEN BARRY SACKS.
And I think the recruits are the first ones to notice all of this. It's hard to go an interview without a kid mentioning the fact that it feels like a family. I can't even tell you the number of times recruits have said football didn't even come up when they were talking to a coach -- life did. Sonny said during one of those pizza parties that they want to recruit kids they're going to want to spend time with, because, hell, they're going to be around each other for four or five YEARS. I think it doesn't take long for the recruits to see that -- that the staff is as interested in who they are as football players as who they are as people.
Generally, is it an advantage to be able to recruit with Dykes's simple offense or were many recruits attracted to the prospect of the complex Tedford offense making them more appealing to the NFL?
I think it has less to do with the offensive scheme and more with the track record. Kids were attracted to Tedford and his offense because it produced guys like Aaron Rodgers, and Marshawn Lynch, and DeSean Jackson. That sells a 17-year-old way more than a 600-page playbook.
I think Dykes can similarly attract: LaTech had one of the most prolific offenses in the country last season and was the nation's highest scoring team. Quinton Patton looks like he'll be a starter with the Super Bowl runners-up. Their running back, Kenneth Dixon, set an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a freshman. LaTech quarterback Colby Cameron set an NCAA record for most consecutive passes in a season (428) and career (444) without throwing an interception. He's now in the mix to be Cam Newton's backup in Carolina. There's a lot to like.
Oh, and I think this gets overlooked: because of the number of plays Dykes' offense runs, it necessitates cycling in a lot players to keep bodies fresh -- Cal will travel with 10 offensive linemen. They'll play 10+ wide receivers a game. Every recruit wants to play early, Dykes can offer that more times than not.
Does the academic rigor and low APR rate frighten off many recruits?
When Dykes put together his staff, all of the coaches had reputations as strong recruiters. Can you see a difference yet between the Dykes and the Tedford approach to recruiting?
I don't know if I'd say they all had reputations as strong recruiters. Zach Yenser had never sat in a kid's living room in his life prior to coming to Cal.
This is Zach during an interview we did with him when he got the job: "All I was allowed to do was call high school coaches, get info, set up trips -- the grunt work," Yenser said. "I wasn't allowed to go anywhere, or in-homes, but when it came to kids being on campus, I was able to get to know them, really do what any other coach was doing. I've done that since 2007."
Zach isn't completely green, but I don't think we have any idea what kind of recruiter he is yet.
That aside though, the biggest difference I think is the hustle. When you're at a LaTech you need to bust your ass to get kids before they get scooped up by bigger, shinier programs. I think they've taken the same approach at Cal.
If you look at our Coach Tracker from the Spring, where we kept tabs on the staff via a variety of sources (high school coaches, recruits, parents, twitter, etc), there were 125 updates, almost of all of which had multiple stops added to the itinerary. I think Pierre Ingram did one swing where he went from Texas, to the Midwest, to LA, and back to Berkeley in like four days. Yenser had a similar swing, I think he got out to virtually every lineman he offered to evaluate them this Spring.
Tedford's staff, let's just say it had some dead weight.
Beyond Yenser being an unknown, we've seen some pretty nice work from all of these coaches, in particular Barry Sacks in closing the last class, and Likens opening up this one with Jalen Harvey, who is hands down the best commit of this class so far, regardless of the stars and rankings, which I guarantee you will come this Fall.
I also don't remember hearing a story like the one regarding the Junior Day invite Cal extended to the El Cerrito trio: the entire staff showed up at their school to personally hand out invites to Harvey (and that was before he committed), Derik Calhoun, and Adarius Pickett.