So it seems as if the coaching staff has been finalized with this new group. With Andy Buh, Randy Stewart and Barry Sacks out the door, the Bears now seem to have made the necessary changes. The staff seems to look better than last better. Do you believe it is?
The status quo
Sonny Dykes, head coach
All in all, I feel Dykes did as well as he could after a disastrous season, particularly acknowledging that he made a terrible mistake in choosing his defensive coordinator. Unfortunately he hasn't entirely resolved the Buh situation yet, and that controversy will just kind of linger on as long as Buh and his contract are wandering the athletic department halls, looking for tasks to complete.
With regards to the hires though, the staff does look significantly better at most positions. Dykes definitely went for experience and coaches that have done their best work in major football conferences. However, after being burned by Buh, I can imagine many fans wanting to take a "wait-and-see" attitude with their new defensive leaders.
Tony Franklin, offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach
Tied to the hip with Dykes, he will probably leave the day his boss does. Franklin found his quarterback in Jared Goff and will get a full year to show that he made the right choice. Franklin's determination that Goff was heads and shoulders above Zach Kline do leave the Bears with little wriggle room at quarterback, with only Austin Hinder and Luke Rubenzer looking like viable (and green) backup options next season.
Rob Likens, associate head coach/outside receivers coach
So far Likens has to feel pretty good about where he stands. His wide receivers were the best performing unit for most of 2013, with Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler and Chris Harper keeping the Bears in several games. He has pretty much the only unit that returns almost entirely intact. He is one of the top recruiters on the staff and was indispensable in landing some pretty solid names on Signing Day despite the season we just had.
Pierre Ingram, running backs coach
While Ingram has a long way to go to prove that he's Ron Gould's equal on gameday, he's at least shown he's capable of recruiting acumen by landing two of the biggest prospects of the 2014 class. This spring he'll have to find some semblance of a run game with Khalfani Muhammad, Daniel Lasco and all the usual suspects. The biggest issue will be figuring out how to solve the fumbling woes.
Zach Yenser, offensive line coach
Yenser experimented around in his first year at Cal after dealing with a rash of injuries and managed to find a gem in Chris Borrayo and give plenty of young players needed experience. He was also quick to switch players from their normal position to find some sort of equilibrium.
The Likens/Ingram/Yenser crew will ultimately define where this team goes offensively. They are the main recruiters for this Cal team and they will have to incorporate a lot of their talent into the Bear Raid quickly and decisively.
Mark Tommerdahl, inside receivers & special teams coach
Outside of excellent placekicking, Tommerdahl didn't have a great first year. But given the crazy amount of injuries it's no surprise that the bottom fell out on special teams on a few occasions. There will be a need for greater improvement next season.
Damon Harrington, strength and conditioning coach
Step one: Keep players healthy.
Step two: See step one.
Art Kaufman, defensive coordinator
On paper, Kaufman looks like a much better hire for the Bears than Buh. He is more experienced, generally produces outstanding defenses, and is a sound technician. Where Buh showed no ability to adjust and adapt to weekly changes or in-game, Kaufman has proven that his scheme is sound enough to contain plenty of offenses and keep them. The biggest issue is whether Kaufman's rise is as much due to Tommy Tuberville (a defensive mind first and foremost) and whether Kaufman can recruit as well as Buh (his greatest strength).
Kaufman has his work cut out for him. Not many starters are back, and his speciality (linebackers) is especially cut to the bone. He'll have to get innovative quickly to get Cal's defense back to a workable form.
Fred Tate, defensive line coach
This is probably not the most inspiring hire, but I imagine Kaufman wanted his own guy once he took the Cal job. And Tate does look very capable from everything I've seen. The big issue is whether he can take a pretty small group of defensive linemen and engineer a quick turnaround in attitude in execution. It will be particularly important to upgrade the Cal pass rush from "nothing" to "something".
Greg Burns, secondary coach
This is a really good hire on paper based on Burns's resume, particularly his part in the golden years at USC. His name will carry a lot of weight and is probably the first hire in the Dykes era with strong roots in the Los Angeles recruiting area.
The bigger issue with Burns could be where he is at this point in his career. His Arizona State stints were unremarkable and Purdue and UMass aren't exactly the stops you want to hear before ending up at Cal. The good news is that Cal is returning most of their contributors here, so he will have players to work with to turn around one of the worst pass defenses in the Golden Bear history.
Note: Duane Akina, one of the main names circulated as a potential Cal defensive back coaching candidate, was recently hired at Furd as their new secondary coach. We will see in time who the better hire is.
Garret Chachere, probably the new linebackers coach
This has not been confirmed anywhere, but I expect that when Tate is officially announced as the new defensive line coach, Chachere will shift around to linebackers. Since Tate and Kaufman aren't really known for their recruiting acumen the way Buh was, Chachere will probably shoulder the load when it comes to trying to land defensive talent. This could be an issue down the line. This could work well though, as Kaufman serves as the main voice for linebacker coaching while Chachere does more work on the trail in finding and identifying the talent that the defensive staff wants.
What do you think about this coaching staff? How do you think they will perform? Do you trust them to turn things around next season?