Football: Dykes seeks to repair academics

Cal’s emphasis on repairing the academic reputation of its football program became painfully real to Chris McCain one day last spring. That is when he had to phone his parents with some bad news.

“They took me off scholarship,” he told them.

McCain, a junior defensive end from North Carolina, is back on the team. He gained reinstatement by meeting coach Sonny Dykes’ requirement of a B-plus average in summer school. McCain didn’t just meet that goal, he beat it.

“I got an A-minus,” he said.

Dykes was hired in December to resurrect Cal’s football fortunes, which had spiraled the past few years under coach Jeff Tedford. Besides finishing with a 3-9 record on the field last season, Tedford’s program had the league’s worst marks in the classroom.

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Jeff Faraudo

  • Juancho

    These kids have to balance being nfl-lite players while being in class with academic studs.

    I see the gpa in the story and i laugh. BUT. I never had to practice a sport half of my day.

    Happy for mccain and these kids.

  • CalBearister

    Well here’s the difference between Jeff Tedford and Chris McCain in a nutshell – which one takes personal responsibility for a failure, and which one passes the buck? Good riddance to the latter. Viva Sonny!

    As last season unraveled for the Bears and McCain’s grades slipped, he said he lost the sense that football and academics were given equal importance.

    “It was on me,” he said of his failings, “but with Tedford we didn’t have any structure. I just felt like it was all about football.”

    Tedford disputed that claim.

    “We spent a lot of time on academics and structure,” he said Tuesday. “Most people adhere to structure, and some take more work than others to adhere to the structure.”

  • CalBearister

    Oh, and huge kudos to Chris McCain for stepping it up and not just meeting Coach Dykes’ expectations, but exceeding them.

  • covinared

    McCain needs to play smarter on the field. He’s supposed to be a leader and has 2 big penalties so far: the late hit against NW and the 3rd down early jump on Saturday. He’s a great talent but playing out of position. He’s a Pendergast OLB, not a BUH DE.

  • BlueNGold

    The pressure on these guys has to be tremendous. I remember back in the dark ages when I was a freshman and foolishly decided to go out for crew. By the time we rode an AC Transit bus down to the Park Street area of Oakland, changed, practiced, showered and dressed then rode the bus back to Berkeley for the late dinner at the dorm, I was exhausted and usually ended up going to bed soon after dinner so I could get up at 4 or 5 to study. Then in the winter the weight training and conditioning kicked in and took even more time. It was the most time consuming, strenuous activity I had engaged in up to that time in my life. I don’t regret doing it, but I did not attempt to return as a soph either.

    I can’t imagine how much more intense the football program is. Guys like McCain who rise above deserve a lot of respect and admiration. Lets hope his new academic work ethic spills over to his football life as well.

  • BlueNGold

    Academic discipline is one of the reasons SB liked and hired SD. He needs to turn around the dismal record of the prior regime and get Cal back on the academic track it must be to maintain its reputation.

    Does anyone doubt that there was a direct correlation between JT’s teams’ disappointing performance on the field and the nosedive in academic discipline and achievement?

  • covinared

    BlueNGold: I believe you are right. The last few years under Tedford I noticed a significant increase in mental mistakes: blocking in the back on returns, late hits, returning kickoffs from five yards deep in the endzone, etc. Those things did not happen early on.

  • wehofx

    Kudos to Mr McCain indeed!

    As a former JT supporter, it is beyond disappointing that he can’t man up and take the blame for dismal apr under last years of his tenure.

    #6&7 Agree!