Now that Wilcox watch is quickly over, what are your feelings about Justin Wilcox's first year as California Golden Bears head coach?
thedozen: It was a positive year given the context, and exceeded expectations even if you don't give them credit for a number of competitive losses. I still can't help thinking: what if the Bears had been successful on the two-point conversion against Arizona? In the big picture, it's a relief that Wilcox is staying put.
Rob Hwang: Can we do 20 year deals?
boomtho: I think Wilcox did a great job in his first year, especially for a first time HC. He adapted to Berkeley quickly, and softened his landing by hiring a very experienced group of lead assistants - while also supplementing them with younger, fresher coaches who are presumably bigger players in recruiting.
He transformed the defense in less than a year, driving significant improvements in our ability to (creatively) generate pressure, make tackles, and make plays on the ball in the passing game. The offense was much more of a mixed bag - though no assessment is complete without calling out the injuries that affected the WR and RB positions.
He's also off to a reasonably good start in recruiting, smartly doubling down on local recruits given the limited time he's been in the job. The UCLA job opening may also provide a decent opportunity to flip folks that were committed to the old staff.
Kevin Wu: Upward trend is what comes to my mind. The team is pretty exciting to watch, it appears that we've got class guys in the coaching staff and players. The team is about the action and not the talk, which is always appreciated. Our defense has improved big time under Wilcox, which is pretty amazing after only one year. And, I agree with the other guys here - Wilcox not even bothering to interview at Oregon shows real commitment to Cal (which is not something we ever had from the previous guy). If you're committed to Cal, then I'm committed to you!
In case you can't tell, I'll put it even more simply: I'm thrilled Wilcox rebuffed Oregon's advances, very excited that most of our staff can remain intact, and am really looking forward to next year. Go Bears!
ragnarok: Cal's record during Wilcox's first year ended up about where we expected (5-7), but the results on the field were a pleasant surprise, and definitely pointed to greater things to come.
The biggest difference to me is how competitive the Bears were during almost every game, even against more talented teams. The defense not only was competent, they were often the strength of the team. Tackling was sooo much more fundamentally sound this year. And I was pleasantly surprised at how well the offense was able to move the ball at times, given the graduation of so much talent and the lack of any sort of credible deep threat.
For me, the biggest unknown is how well Wilcox and his assistants will be able to recruit. This year's team had talent in spots, but definitely lacked depth in key areas, and it's exciting to think about what this coaching staff could do with a roster that could withstand some injuries and still compete with the Pac-12's upper half.