As we widely suspected, Mark Tommerdahl becomes the fourth Louisiana Tech coach to make the jump along with Sonny Dykes to California. The announcement was made this morning.
"Mark Tommerdahl is a veteran coach that has been a key member of staffs at the top level of college football," Dykes said. "His track record in developing top specialists and producing some of the strongest special teams play in the nation is impeccable. He also does a fantastic job working with inside receivers."
"Cal is a program with a really strong long-standing tradition," Tommerdahl said. "It is our intent to revive that tradition and build upon it. The players are going to be excited about what we do and the fans are going to be excited about the results. We are all looking forward to attracting top-notch student-athletes to one of the finest academic institutions in the nation."
While neither Ingram nor Likens has serious college football experience at big-time programs, Tommerdahl definitely does. He's been coaching for nearly 30 years. He started off at Wyoming and coached there in various capacities for over a decade. Then he moved onto coach at various spots, including Minnesota, New Mexico, TCU, Alabama, Texas A&M and Louisiana Monroe.
Will he be an improvement over Cal's erratic special teams play?
Here is how Tommerdahl's units performed at Louisiana Tech on special teams.
- 1st in the nation in net yardage punting. 5th in 2009, 79th in 2010, 105th in 2009.
- 78th in field goals (12 for 18 last year). 52nd in 2011, 47th in 2010, 41st in 2009. A bit of a downward trend, but it's a bit of a small sample size of kicks compared to other schools since La Tech was busy scoring touchdowns.
- 107th in punt return average yardage in 2012. 40th in 2011, 10th in 2010, 25th in 2009. Not so great this year, but again, the defense wasn't really stopping anyone, so there weren't many big stops.
31st in average kickoff returns in 2012, 43rd in 2011, 25th in 2010, 79th in 2009. Nice numbers, especially considering there were a lot of returns.
- 109th in kickoff average yardage in 2012, 94th in 2011, 79th in 2010, 115th in 2009. A little concerning, although it's pretty hard to not kick a touchback these days.
- 58th in punt return average allowed in 2012, 106th in 2011, 24th in 2010, 60th in 2009. Average.
- 28th in kickoff return average allowed in 2012, 11th in 2011, 55th in 2010, 19th in 2009. Solid.
Most importantly, Tommerdahl's punter Ryan Allen has won the Ray Guy Award two years running. Here's hoping he can accomplish similar things with Cole Leninger, while also ensuring the kicking game improves with three strong kicking candidates in Vincenzo D'Amato, Matt Anderson and James Langford.
Much like Jeff Genyk and Pete Alamar before him, it appears Tommerdahl will also be in charge of the tight ends (inside receivers refers to everyone who plays in the slot or in the inside, so that includes tight ends but could also involve wide receivers). Tommerdahl's greatest success story at the tight end position has to be Martellus Bennett, who is thriving this season with the New York Giants as their main tight end.
This does look like a real upgrade (Genyk's units were okay at times and either incompetent or nonexistent at others) and a definite hire that should get Cal fans excited.
If you're counting, here are the hires so far.
- Tony Franklin: offensive coordinator
- Rob Likens: assistant head coach, wide receivers
- Pierre Ingram: running backs
Mark Tommerdahl: special teams, inside receivers
Cal does have two big hires left to make: A defensive coordinator (which will hopefully come sometime next week), and an offensive line coach (it doesn't look like Pete Perot is leaving the South, so Dykes will have to do some searching here). Both of them will be very critical hires for Dykes, and could be the ones that make or break his start with the Bears.
Welcome to Cal Mark! Go Bears!