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Cal football coaching changes roundtable

Who should the Bears look to in helping change the rotten defensive culture?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TwistNHook: Well, something happened.

BERKELEY - Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes announced a restructuring of the Golden Bears' defensive coaching staff on Wednesday. Defensive coordinator Andy Buh has been reassigned as a position coach, while defensive tackles coach Barry Sacks and defensive backs coach Randy Stewart will not return in 2014.

Buh is now the world's most highly paid LB coach and Cal now needs a DB coach, a DT coach (if even one of those is needed) and a DC. What are your thoughts on this and who do you envision taking over in these roles???

Vincent S: I'd heard good things about Stewart, so my first impression is that I'm a little disappointed he's leaving. I know next to nothing about D-line play, so I won't be able to comment on that. Based on Buh's prior history as a relatively-well-sought LB coach (not DC), I think that he's got his merits, but perhaps was too involved in coordinator duties to actually coach. I think this is a reasonable move.

With regards to DC, I'd like to throw my hat in for Randy Shannon (currently LB coach at Arkansas). He's got a great reputation, runs a tight ship (see: HC stint at Miami), and (not having actually met him), I think he could be a good mentor for our young players.

Defensive coordinator candidates: Todd Orlando, Utah State D.C.

Nick Kranz: Sonny's search for a defensive staff that can build an above average defense might be the story that defines his tenure at Cal. I strongly suspect that Cal's offense will continue to progress next year and as long as Dykes is in charge. But even before he was hired, the line was " . . . if he can just hire a good defensive coordinator, he can do great things."

So I don't know how to feel about all of this. I'm encouraged that he's willing to make changes when he thinks something isn't working. I'm discouraged that his initial hire was so unsuccessful that he pulled the plug after one year.
If Sonny can't get this hire right, his entire tenure at Cal is on the line.

Vlad Belo: The dismissal of Stewart surprised me a little bit. He was a veteran coach with a good reputation and it seemed that his unit was especially hard hit by injuries, forcing Cameron Walker to play out of position and guys like Cedric Dozier to start before they were ready. We were bound to have issues in the secondary.

But while I'm surprised with Stewart's dismissal, I'm not shocked by the departures of either him or Sacks. The defense was historically bad and Coach Dykes may have concluded that these two guys were not part of the plan to turn the defense around in 2014. I also wonder whether (and I absolutely don't want to make it sound like I'm accusing Coach Dykes of ageism, at least not in the pejorative sense) this is a move to make the staff younger. Position coaches are the guys who spend the most time with the players. They are the guys that do the most teaching of the fundamentals. Perhaps Coach Dykes is looking to get "younger" in these areas and get guys who have more of a rapport with the players and with recruits.

As for the Andy Buh development, I have mixed feelings about it. I am not expert on whether Buh's schemes were good and I don't claim to be an expert on Buh's shortcomings (if any) in defensive game-planning. But Coach Buh strikes me as a bright guy and, as I've said on this site before, I like his demeanor. That said, when you have as bad a defense as Cal had last season, I appreciate the sentiment that a move has to be made at the top of the defensive leadership, regardless of the many reasons that Cal had for struggling on defense (i.e. injuries and youth). This is a move that tells me that Coach Dykes was not willing to stand pat and/or lost confidence in Buh as a coordinator after reflecting upon the season and/or reviewing game tape. By keeping Buh around as a LB coach, Cal is taking a hit financially (by having a hugely paid LB coach), but not as big as letting Buh go altogether. Anyway, I don't really have qualms about keeping Buh around as a position coach. i believe him to be well respected in that capacity.

Like all of us, I am looking forward to seeing whom Coach Dykes hires as the new DC. After the Buh experience (or experiment, if you want to call it that), I fully expect Coach Dykes to bring in a proven guy who has succeeded as a DC at the college level. Coach Dykes can't afford to get this hire wrong twice.

Leland Wong: It's certainly unfair that Buh got saddled with such a horrifically injury-filled season; however, he didn't show anything to show he had the right schemes, just young and inexperienced players. Our defense was laughable way back to the Northwestern game.

He was dealt a poor hand, but he didn't prove he would have been capable of success if he had a good hand. Seems to me like this was the right move.

Ruey Yen: This defensive coaching change basically worked out the way that I thought it was going to work out in Buh being demoted but not fired and some of the coaches on one year contract being let go. It would be interesting to see what kind of new DC candidates that Cal is going after and whether it is another young guy or more of a veteran. If it is a veteran (which seems to be the preference of most people), how would that guy co-exist with Sonny? Given how many of the defensive players have already entered the draft or transferred, I wonder if more of them would have stayed had we been able to make this change (including a new hire) sooner.

Berkelium97: I'm glad to see movement on this front, as a repeat of last year's defensive performance probably would have brought an end to the Dykes era. I wonder how Buh's demotion will factor into the DC search. Will the new DC be forced to accept Buh as his LB coach? Will that turn off certain candidates? How about the salary situation: Buh is guaranteed $500k per year over the next two seasons. Will Dykes be able to scrounge up enough money for a competitive salary for the new DC? If not, it might create an uncomfortable situation if Buh is paid as much or more than the new DC. In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last we hear about staff changes. The new DC may want to come in and start completely fresh with his own staff.

LeonPowe: I've tried to forget we played Handegg until the start of the next season anyways. While I begrudgingly accepted Buh coming back, I was pleasantly surprised that something happened - in that it was at least an active acknowledgement that something went horribly, terribly wrong. I will agree that he got dealt an unfair hand with all of the injuries and defections and everything, but on the other hand - sometimes, even if its unfair, heads need to roll when something goes that wrong, that quickly. I wasn't on the Fire Buh bandwagon - I tend to be pretty conservative in my wish to fire coaches, but after the restructuring went down, I can't say I was displeased.

I am anxious to hear about the new DC, but as always I'll reserve judgement until game time. Keeping in mind that Pete Carroll's hiring was terribly received at USC and Bill Walsh's second hiring at Stanfurd was really really welcomed, we don't know how people will perform until their teams step on the field.