Stressing that he is leaving Cal “with no hatred,” offensive lineman Freddie Tagaloa said Monday he won an appeal to transfer within the Pac-12 Conference to Arizona.
Tagaloa will enroll in spring semester classes and be eligible to play for the Wildcats as a redshirt junior in the fall of 2015 after sitting out next season.
He said the opportunity to be reunited with offensive line coach Jim Michalczik, now at Arizona, was key to his decision to pick the Wildcats.
“Having a coach I looked up to as a father figure was one of the main deciding factors,” said Tagaloa, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound graduate of Salesian High in Richmond. “I talked to (former Cal offensive linemen) Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, and they call him an O-line guru.”
Tagaloa said he considered transferring after Michalczik was let go when Sonny Dykes replaced Jeff Tedford as Cal coach in December 2012, but wanted to give the new staff a chance.
Tagaloa was voted one of Cal’s four captains by his teammates last fall, but lost his starting offensive tackle job at midseason, then was moved to guard.
“I wanted to do anything to win at that point,” he said. “If I lost my starting job and moved to guard and we started winning games, obviously we fixed the problem. That didn’t happen, so I became a little frustrated.”
Tagaloa sat down with his family to make the decision after the Bears’ 1-11 season was complete. He said he wasn’t comfortable with the way offensive line techniques were taught by the new staff and wasn’t convinced he would develop into an NFL-caliber player.
At Arizona, Tagaloa said, he will return to offensive tackle.
Cal and Arizona play each other next season, but Tagaloa won’t be eligible to participate. He said he’s grateful the two teams won’t meet in 2015 and ’16 when he is playing.
A Cal athletic department spokesman said the school will not grant release from scholarship to any player trying to transfer to another Pac-12 school, which is standard practice for most college football teams.
Tagaloa said that required him to go through a campus appeals process, which was conducted via email because of the holiday season. He said he presented his reasons for why he should be permitted to transfer to Arizona and was informed on Dec. 29 he won the appeal.
One of at least three Cal players known to be transferring, Tagaloa said he is excited about the next chapter of his football career.
“I’m leaving with no hatred,” he said. “It’s just something that didn’t work out.”