Instead of going for new and exciting, Jeff Tedford is returning to the old but tried and true. Jim Michalczik is on the verge of leaving the Oakland Raiders and returning to coach the California Golden Bears offensive line, reports Jim McGill of Bear Insider. He will rejoin the also-returning Eric Kiesau at receivers coach and steady Ron Gould at running backs coach to try and revive a Cal offense that sunk into the Bay since his departure, much in part due to the struggles of the offensive line.
Michalczik is best known for taking Tom Holmoe's offensive line recruits that had been performing poorly before his departure, and whipping them into ultra shape to make Cal the best rushing offense in the conference in 2004 and 2005 (yes, even over Reggie Bush and LenDale White at Southern Cal). Behind Ryan O'Callaghan, Aaron Merz and Marvin Philip, Cal enjoyed bountiful success in the run attack. Their departures were hard to atone for, as Cal struggled to lock down key offensive line recruits, but those issues can be partly attributed to the SAHPC/treesitter fiasco rather than anything wrong with Michalczik's recruiting style. Still, Michalczik did find and develop Alex Mack into the best offensive lineman in the Pac-10 for 2007-08, as he powered Jahvid Best to incredible rushing numbers in his senior season; Mack would also win the equivalent of the Academic Heisman award and be selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round.
When he joined the Raiders, Oakland was and 22nd in power running according to Football Outsiders (Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer). Michalzik turned them drastically around to 4th in the power run game in 2009 and 15th in 2010.
Here are the overall stats for offensive line achievement (again thanks to FO):
2008 (before Coach M): Oakland 26th in run blocking, 30th in pass protection
2009: 23rd in run blocking, 31st in pass protection
2010: 14th in run blocking, 26th in pass protection
He was making definite strides before Al Davis decided to be Al Davis and change things up in Oakland. Much thanks goes to the Raiders owner for this assist.
With two years of NFL experience under his belt and four of his pupils playing in the NFL, Michalczik will also provide that pro experience college recruits always love to see to maximize their hopes of becoming an NFL talent. For now though, he will again be working with a mix of his own players (like Mitchell Schwartz, Dominic Galas, Brian Schwenke, and Matt Summers-Gavin), and also the departing Steve Marshall's group (Chris Adcock, Geoffrey Gibson, Alejandro Crosthwaite and Jordan Rigsbee). Can he turn it around as drastically as he did in 2002?
Welcome back Jim. GO BEARS!