With just weeks until the start of the season, the game of musical chairs that has been going on in the coaches' meeting room finally grinds to a halt. Two new faces will join the Cal sideline this fall, and many of the returning coaches will be wearing new hats (metaphorically—although one assumes Cal's deal with Nike does include replacement headwear). That means lots of little adjustments to make in camp, even though the team brings back lots of experience with 18 projected returning starters. Let's run down the changes so you'll know whose name to scream to the heavens when something goes wrong.
Remain calm Cal fans, Coach Dykes isn't going anywhere just yet. He'll just be adding to his head coaching duties, replacing Rob Likens as outside receivers coach this season. The position has now gone through a couple of quick transitions, as Pierre Ingram was slated to move over from the running backs to the wideouts before he was dismissed from the program. Despite the setback, Dykes should have no problem taking on this role, having worked with wide receivers at Northeast Louisiana, Kansas, and for his entire tenure at Texas Tech. His skill coaching the offense (and especially the passing game) is a known quantity, so there's no reason to expect any growing pains here. One would also think that the experience and depth at the WR position will allow Sonny to keep most of his focus on the bigger picture during fall camp.
Similar to Dykes' situation, Tony Franklin will take over the running backs alongside his usual work as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In case you've lost the trail here, Franklin was awarded the running backs job in January when Rob Likens departed and Pierre Ingram (briefly) moved to outside wide receivers, the position now occupied by Sonny Dykes. Got all that?
Franklin's first coaching job was running backs coach at Kentucky from 1997-99, so he has experience there despite working with the passing game for most of his career. He'll have plenty of weapons to play with during fall camp as he works out a division of labor between Daniel Lasco and the rest of the depth chart.
Brandon Jones: Bear Raid veteran
Tony Franklin will have help in that process from one of the newest members of the Cal staff, run game coordinator and offensive line coach Brandon Jones. Jones comes to Cal from East Carolina, where he spent five years as O-line coach. He's an Air Raid guy, having worked as an offensive assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and he played center for the Red Raiders back when Sonny Dykes was coaching there. Those two points should give Cal fans comfort that Jones knows what it takes to run the offensive line in Sonny's system. He'll have his work cut out for him in fall camp though, coaching up presumptive starter Addison Ooms in place of the recently departed Matt Cochran.
Jones came to Cal in January, just days after getting a promotion to run game coordinator at ECU. The Pirates felt he deserved the bump on the grounds that he produced seven all-conference linemen in five seasons with the team, including first-teamer Taylor Hudson last year. Attributing an team's success to its offensive line would be reductive, but ECU's offense led the AAC in passing offense, first downs, and total offense last season, and that should count for something. Jones clearly has had success coaching up an O-line in a high-powered offense, so he should hopefully feel comfortable with his new job in Berkeley.
Jones will replace Zach Yenser, who followed Rob Likens to Kansas. Here's hoping Jones stick around for a while, as he will be the Bears' fourth O-line coach in seven years.
Jacob Peeler: Moving on up
The wheel of coaches continues on the offensive side of the ball, as Jacob Peeler earns a promotion from graduate assistant with the inside receivers to full-time inside receivers coach in 2015. Peeler came over from Louisiana Tech with Sonny Dykes in 2013 after spending four seasons working on quality control and assisting the offensive coaches there. He'll pull double duty in his first year as a coach, helping to fill a Rob Likens-shaped hole in the passing game and on the recruiting trail. Sonny Dykes has already complimented Peeler on his recruiting, which may have something to do with the fact that he played college ball at Holmes Community College and Louisiana Tech not too long ago. Best of luck to Coach Peeler in his first official season!
Greg Burns: Focusing in
Defensive backs coach Greg Burns takes a bump down after a difficult year for his unit, as he will now focus on just the safeties. He'll work alongside new hire John Lovett to rebuild the defensive secondary.
John Lovett: Cornerbacks coach
I guess I spoiled the surprise there, huh? Lovett, who spent the last two years as defensive backs coach for for the Philadelphia Eagles, joined the Cal coaching staff in late July as the new cornerbacks coach. He'll work with Burns to see if they can figure out how to improve the deadest of horses that is Cal's defense. Lovett carries with him an exceptionally long résumé including stints in college and the NFL, but he'll be looking to regain some credibility at Cal after being demoted by Chip Kelly after two disappointing seasons in Philadelphia.
How disappointing, you ask? His 2013 defense allowed a league-high 4636 passing yards and an uninspiring 25 passing touchdowns. Last year wasn't much better, as the Eagles gave up 30 TDs through the air (fifth worst) even though they narrowly escaped last place in total passing yardage (as context, Cal allowed 42 touchdowns last season in four fewer games than the Eagles played).
All that said, Lovett should be able to jump right into Art Kaufman's defense as the two previously coached together at Mississippi (1995-98) and Texas Tech (2012) in his last job before jumping to the pros. He won't have much time to adjust anyway, since the late hire means he's only had a few weeks to acclimate before camp starts.
What do you think of the all the new coaches? What do you like the most about the new staff? What concerns do you have? Let us know in the comments!