Coach Sonny Dykes responded to the worst season by a Cal defense in the school’s football history on Wednesday by demoting coordinator Andy Buh and firing two assistant coaches.
“I owe it to our student-athletes to provide them with the best conditions for success, both on and off the field,” Dykes said in a statement, “and I am committed to hiring coaches who will develop our players to their fullest potential while being excellent teachers in all aspects of the game.”
Buh will be reassigned to a position coaching assignment that has not been announced, although he was responsible for Cal’s linebackers last season. Defensive tackles assistant Barry Sacks and defensive backs coach Randy Stewart both were fired.
Dykes will find a new coordinator and at least one defensive position coach.
“I will look to hire a defensive coordinator with significant experience in that role who can lead our defensive unit to success in one of the most prolific offensive conferences in the country,” he said.
The changes come less than a month before the Feb. 5 national signing day for high school recruits and nearly seven weeks the Bears’ season ended with a record-setting 63-13 Big Game loss at Stanford.
Cal’s defense was the chief culprit throughout the Bears’ 1-11 season, allowing an average of 45.9 points and 529.6 yards per game. Those figures are the worst in school history and both ranked 122nd nationally among 123 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Cal’s pass defense surrendered 341.0 yards per game — worst in the nation — while allowing 32 touchdown passes and securing just five interceptions.
The Bears gave up at least 33 points in all 11 of their FBS games and allowed 41 points or more nine times.
Dykes, hired by Cal a year ago because of his offensive prowess, acknowledged the Bears must be substantially better on other side of the ball.
“Defense is a critical part of the equation in winning championships,” Dykes said.
Cal confirmed Buh will continue to be paid according to the terms of his contract, which calls for a $500,000 annual salary. That contract, which guarantees him a total of $1 million through the end of the 2015 season, may have been the reason Buh was reassigned and not fired.
Buh, 40, has spent much of his coaching career working with linebackers, including at Wisconsin in 2012. He returned to Cal 12 years after spending two seasons in Berkeley as a defensive administrative assistant, and switched the Bears’ defense from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3.
Sacks and Stewart were two of the most experienced assistants on Dykes’ staff. Sacks, 56, has coached primarily on the defensive line at six schools since 1986. Stewart, 55, began his coaching career in 1980 and spent the 1997 through 2001 seasons at Cal, working under Tom Holmoe.