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Football: The offseason begins

Back from a couple days off after the game to celebrate Christmas. I hope everyone had a good holiday.

In case you missed it, here is my season review, mostly examining where the Bears go from here after their second disappointing season in the past three. Also, columnist Gary Peterson says the 2009 season puts some pressure on coach Jeff Tedford.

The plan here at BearTalk for the immediate future is that I will be on partial comp time this week, meaning my posts might be less frequent than usual. But I still do have a couple things brewing and will definitley have a presence here and there. In the near term, there will be storylines  to follow. Most notably, recruiting. Signing day is just over a month away and the Bears hope to keep their promising recruiting season going. It will be interesting to see if the way the season ended will turn off any potential recruits.

Also, this is the time of year when there are changes to a coaching staff, so if there are going to be any changes to Cal’s staff for 2010, expect to hear about them sooner rather than later. You also never know about personnel movement — a player quitting, transferring, or somebody else transferring in, etc.

One other thing: Don’t forget that we will once again be bypassing a live chat this week but will have a week from Thursday, on Jan. 7. That can serve as a season wrap and also look ahead to the future.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • abe

    As I commented on a previous post I have to see a single blogger/writer/etc… from the bay area put the lion share of this year’s failure, yes failure, on the coaching staff, particularly the head man himself. Here is a guess that if this was SEC nation or even other parts of the Pac10, especially up north, Tedford’s seat would be in a blazing inferno. Paterson merely beats around the bush. Fortunately there are some national writer who do have the balls to call outthe coaching staff for this debacle and for a program that is definitely not looking very promising in the near future.

  • Jan K Oski

    Welcome Back, JO! Can you confirm or deny that Alamar has been given his walking papers? The rumor mill is full steam ahead on this one.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Merry Christmas JO and a Happy New Year to your family

  • GoldenBear 77

    Gosh Abe, must have gotten coal in your stocking. Oh, and I looked through the statistics again, and did not see where the coaching staff threw any passes, made (or missed) any blocks, made (or missed) any tackles, blew any coverage, or covered a kick return. I don’t think that this falls on any one facet. This was a true team effort.

  • mbbear

    hey Abe, grow a pair: if you want Tedford fired, then say so…sounds to me like you are hedging your comments…

  • Clunky

    When an entire team takes turns failing to execute, unit by unit, then the coaches did a poor job. Consistent execution is what well-coached teams do (ask De La Salle).

  • MikeD

    JO – Thanks as always for the hard work you put in to bring us the great info, and while we don’t always like the messages we sure appreciate the messenger. Looking forward to following along with you in 2010

    Nice to see everybody ignoring the troll. Makes the site that much more readable

  • Calduke

    The off season could be made upbeat if the Bears bring in a successful 2010 recruit class. A lot of effort will be needed to accomplish this. Lost a WR recruit a few days ao.

    BTW – when is the Letter-of-Intent signing day??

  • GoldenBear 77

    Sorry, don’t agree Clunky (at least to an extent). Having played, my view is that consistent mistakes can be traced fairly easily to one of two areas — lack of personnel (or the right personnel), or poor coaching. Take Notre Dame for example (I attended there too). Clearly they had to get rid of Weis. It was not so much the record, but that they had top notch personnel, and they still consistently made the same mistakes. That is coaching. On the other extreme, Washington State consistently makes the same mistakes, but that is lack of high quality personnel (and maybe coaching, but we really don’t know until they have the players). Contrast that with inconsistent mistakes, i.e., lack of execution in rolling areas — one time a missed catch, one time a missed tackle, one time a missed open receiver (more like what I believe we witnessed). I attribute this more to the players (but coaching will never be blameless). Am I disappointed at the season — Yes. Do I believe that I overestimated the challenge of replacing 3 linebackers (especially in a system that demands great linebackers), incorporating the new faces on the offensive line, and the improvement I expected from Riley — Yes. It it as clear as you suggest that the fault lies only in one place — No.

  • robert

    J.O. in your postseason work, under team culture does that include looking at the entire scheme put forth by Gregory and all coaches? Simply looking at the secondary would be a very narrow focus, and would miss the big picture.

  • abe

    GoldenBear 77: Wow what a surprise that you couldn’t find those stats you mention, here i am thinking that it is the coaches after all that are suiting up for these games. If you think that the coaching staff doesn’t deserve the blame for the way we lost games this year, and the lion’s share of the blame at that, then you just demonstrated your spectacular lack of understanding of the game of football and most RELEVANTLY you lack of understand of the essence of competition. Now granted, if we were talking about an NFL team, or any other profession team, whose roster is filled with a bunch of seasoned pro athletes then the players maybe more to blame than the coaches. But when you talk about a bunch of amatuer teenage college athletes with nothing but raw talent…suffice it to say that the day you learn to look beyond the stats of missed tackles, drops, whiffed blocks, etc, you’ll appreciate the complexity of competitive sports.

  • Dan

    GoldenBear 77:

    I played too, including playing for 3 coaches who won Super Bowls. Respectfully, I am in strong agreement with Abe on this, and I disagree with you. But let’s say you’re right- ok then, who recruits these players? Whose training program do they do through? Whose philosophies do they attempt to execute? Whose play calling and schemes do they execute? Who gets paid and who doesn’t?

    Cal was so badly outcoached in so many games this season there isn’t even a question as to who should shoulder almost ALL of the blame. It’s the guys who makes $2.2 mil plus. You can not tell me Utah has anywhere near the talent Cal does this season- they don’t, epsecially with a freshman QB. They dominated Cal- because they coiached circles around Cal’s coaches. The same could be said for the coaching staffs at UW, OSU, UO and SC.

  • GoldenBear 77

    Abe and Dan,

    I think you need to read the posts again.

    My point was that it was not so simple that coaching alone can explain what happened (and yes, Abe, I think it is you who does not understand the complexity of the game, and what it means to coach 18-22 year olds).

    While coaches teach tackling, running, etc., they cannot do it for the players. As I said there is enough blame to go around for what is clearly a disappointing season. Some of the loses we were out-coached (I would put UO clearly in that camp), and others I think the players failed to step up (Washington), or execute (USC).

    So, we disagree to the extent coaching contributed, me willing to put more on the players. I just don’t think we had as much talent as you.

    Starting at quarterback, Riley has not taken command, and you can clearly tell when he has lost “it” during a game. Is that coaching — some — but you work with what you have, and try to make them better. Is it recruiting — some — but I think CAL is still limited in this area. Kids these days want to know how you are going to get them to the NFL, they no longer play for the glory of the school (one of the few things Lou Holtz said that I agree with), and CAL is presently second tier (up from doormat). While I would like to see them first tier (although not at the expense of the University), they are not. This takes a lot of the recruits out of the mix. Yes, there is the occasional Jackson or Best, but to be top tier, you need a whole team of these. This simply is not the NFL where money or draft position gives you unconditional rights.

    Finally, firing Alamar was a good first step, and I look forward to the glorious expectations of Spring practice.

  • rollonubears

    goldenbear, i agree that riley has lacked command this year, but we’ve seen time and again, he’s at his best in no-huddle situations. when they have little time to think. i know the defense plays a little softer in those situations, too, but he has totally dominated, when the game plan calls for the hurry-up. he has always been a run and shoot kind of qb. tedford destroyed him, in my opinion. wasting his talents, and crushing his spirit. it all goes back to oregon state, but what’s funny is that in this bowl game, riley was the one that made tedford look like a fool, having to call timeout to explain to him that they needed to go for two.

    i think coaching is about 90% of the problem with the bears this year. the negativity on the sidelines was allowed to snowball, time and again. there’s no excuse for that. not when you’re making 2mm + per year. i totally agree that alomar was a good firing, but their lackluster play on special teams seems to be of the village wine variety. i’ll bring less than 100% on a play, and nobody will notice. the rest of the team will pick up my slack. that attitude spread like wildfire, and pretty soon, everybody’s giving 70% on special teams. tedford takes the blame for that, too.

  • Brian A

    I think your statement about coaching being 90% of the problem is a bit harsh. There is plenty of blame to go around and I would say it probably falls 60%/40% on coaching.

  • Steve W

    I always anticipate the late spring college football publications and have taken special pride in Cal’s lofty projections over the past several years. I am looking ahead to the spring and predicting in order where Cal will reside in the projections for the 2010 season:

    1) USC – SC still has the best talent, and that frosh qb will grow up next year.
    2) Oregon – would reverse the order, except I don’t seen Oregon winning at SC next year
    3) Washington – Look out for Locker
    4) Arizona – Not much dropoff for Foles and Co.
    5) Stanford – Luck will be great again, but he won’t have Toby
    6) Oregon State – The best qb in the Pac 10 returns with the Rodgers brothers. Defense is the question.
    7) Cal – Returns most of the offense, but how good is that with Riley coming back?
    8) UCLA – would reverse this order, except I don’t see UCLA beating the Bears in a home game.
    9) Arizona State – good defense, but this will be Erickson’s last year.
    10 WSU – Simply improving is not good enough yet.

    There are some wildcards that could move Cal up in my projected order. They are: a) Riley makes the same improvement in his senior year that Boller made, b) Cal finds someone who can put a kickoff into the endzone at least half of the time, c) Michael Calvin makes a comeback to become a threat at WR along with Marvin Jones; d) Matt Summers-Gavin remains healthy all season and a guy off the radar screen beats out Cheadle, e) Darian Hagan re-commits himself during the off-season and finally lives up to his projections at the corner, f) Chris Martin lives up to the hype and becomes a true freshman force at the hybrid D-end/linebacker position in the same manner as Burfect at Arizona State.

    Projected Record – 7-5, 4-5 in the Pac 10.

  • GoldenBear 77

    Rollonubears,

    I think you can win a game that way (no-huddle, running Riley out of the pocket), but it is a 13 game season. You need something more consistent than that. You are looking for consistency, not flashes of brilliance (after all, that is what we had this season, and we finished 8-5).

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Steve W – Canfield from OSU will graduate and not return.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Robert, the secondary is just one of many things to be looked at. And when I referenced culture, I was speaking more about the way the Bears do business — practice habits, routines, etc. — not as much personnel or schemes.

  • Lady Bear

    I believe coaching is the primary problem and that errors by individual players are secondary. Goldenbear77, your example about Riley’s woes comes back to coaching – if Riley is playing poorly, why don’t the coaches bench him and try Sweeney or Mansion?