We always debate here at CGB how hard it is to win football games at Cal. It has historically been a tough place to win, but could we be reaching a tipping point?
ESPN recently ranked all the spots to be a college football coach based on overall toughness. Among the major 65 Power 5 conference coaching positions, Cal ranks 42nd overall ($). That's around the middle of the pack.
In terms of overall attractiveness, Ted Miller has us 7th. SEVENTH? What'd we do to you Uncle Ted?
While Berkeley is arguably the nation's best state university, it has been able to get "special admits" to the football program through the years, which was particularly a boon to former coach Jeff Tedford. It appears things are a bit tougher for third-year coach Sonny Dykes. Still, there's good talent available in Northern California and the facilities are A-list. No reason the Golden Bears can't regain the traction they once had under Tedford.
Now to be fair, if Cal is trying to make a multiple touchdown comeback against Stanford and Pac-12 refs, it's the hardest job in the world. Otherwise? It's not all that bad.
There are definite drawbacks and certainly parts of the job that make Cal a bit more frustrating than your average college football job. Let's examine the drawbacks and the positives.
Why Cal is not a great job
Institutional support: Let's face it. It's not the best. Cal Athletics is not the top priority of anyone at UC Berkeley, and it reflects in terms of overall investment from the alumni and a somewhat interminable athletic director search. The Bears struggle to sell out their premium tickets, have a huge athletic debt that looks like it'll take awhile to pay off, and student support is a bit lukewarm.
Academics: Until graduation rates go up, Cal is going to struggle with recruiting. Due to a confluence of many factors--like Tedford ignoring recruiting his final years, terrible academic support for athletes, taking on too many at-risk projects who probably didn't belong here, all any other rival has to point to is our poor graduation rates. The perception that Cal can't graduate its kids will stay here.
Tradition of success: It was there recently, but it's been five years since Cal has been really good, and the decade the Bears enjoyed with Tedford is a blip in a radar of indifference. USC, UCLA, and Stanford have all moved past the Bears in the last three years, and it doesn't seem like they're going anywhere (USC definitely isn't, UCLA will always be talented, and Stanford matches up very well against us). That's an issue.
Why Cal is a great job
Cal is situated in a top 5 market in America. Let's face it. How many of you would be happy to live in the Bay Area, even if you probably weren't living like a king with a few million in the pocket? It's a great environment filled with all sorts of successful people to connect with, and Sonny really enjoys living in the Berkeley area. Cal tends to recruit good talent eventually--even if it's not glamorous Los Angeles, it's hard to beat that Bay Area life in the Pac-12.
Cal has modern facilities and a modern stadium now. Recruiting should no longer be a barrier based on being outclassed on infrastructure. The Bears have a modern athletic facility filled with all the modern amenities. Student-athlete performance should be at an all-time high. Even if we still have work to do on the administrative front, Cal has proven.
Cal is starting to realize the financial potential a healthy athletic program brings. Memorial Stadium is being utilized more and more for various cultural and academic projects. With the program in multiple figures of debt, we've inked deals with Kabam and soccer teams to use our facilities to raise millions. These are obviously more reactionary rather than proactive steps -- alumni outreach and development remains a huge, disorganized mess -- but it's good to see Cal realizing that they have great potential to do big things.
So there are a lot of positive signs that the Golden Bears are up and coming. They have a lot of historical struggles, but it's quite possible Cal can be a really good job at one point. They have yet to fulfill that potential.
How tough a job is it to be a Cal football coach in college football? Where would you rank the Golden Bears in the overall Pac-12 hierarchy?