Coach Sonny Dykes announced Sunday that junior defensive end Chris McCain has been dismissed from the team due to “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Dykes said he would have no comment on the matter until after Monday’s practice, but McCain’s issues did not involve academics or legal trouble.
It’s the latest setback for the Bears (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) and comes the day after their 55-16 loss at No. 2 Oregon.
McCain, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound native of Greensboro, N.C., was an honorable mention all-Pac-12 linebacker last season.
He was moved to defensive end during spring ball, then briefly lost his scholarship after spring semester because of academic shortcomings. But Dykes gave McCain the chance to earn back his scholarship with a strong performance during summer school, and McCain got it done.
McCain entered this season as the team’s active leader in sacks and tackles for loss. His 16 career starts were the most by any Cal player.
McCain was ejected from the season-opening game against Northwestern after being flagged for “targeting.” The latter ruling later was overturned, but he sat out the Bears’ game against Portland State with a concussion and has had marginal impact on a defense that is allowing 45.3 points per game, worst in the Pac-12.
Cal already has played this season without defensive end Brennan Scarlett, regarded as perhaps the team’s most talented defensive player. Scarlett never has been cleared medically after breaking his hand twice last season, then undergoing surgery.
JC transfer Sione Sina is redshirting due to a knee injury that has not allowed him back on the practice field.
Kyle Kragen, another JC transfer, started in place of McCain at Oregon, although McCain played and recorded three tackles.