Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Cal Football Program--Dead

You know what's missing in the refurbished Cal football stadium in Berkeley's Strawberry Canyon? There should be, over the speaker system, a soundtrack continuously playing the solemn "Taps." And how about a bench in the end zone draped in black cloth and flags flying at half mast. These are things you do to honor the death of something fine and memorable.

Who or what died? The Cal football program, of course. It's DOA, six feet under. It's Cal football, R.I.P.

Who should be hung in effigy under the goal posts? The pair of lunkheads who killed the program--coach Sonny Dykes and the incompetent who hired him, AD Sandy Barbour.

Looking back on this season is painful for Bear loyalists. The 1-11 record, the Big Game slaughter, the horrific defense, the worst in the history of a program dating back to 1886. The lone, narrow victory over a bad lower-division team, Portland State, is all that stood in the way of the embarrassment of a win-less season

Cal was the laughing stock of the Pac12. Conference teams, naturally, loved playing the Bears, since it was really like a glorified scrimmage. It was not only a guaranteed win, but a chance to fatten their stats, play the scrubs, polish play execution and experiment with new schemes.. Meanwhile, Dykes was on the sidelines looking forlorn and helpless, while fans, the few who hadn't bailed, were looking thoroughly disgusted.

When will the aura of death be removed from Memorial Stadium? Not while Dykes is head coach, that's for sure. He and his staff belong in some obscure school in some Godforsaken place like Montana or Wyoming, not at a major university. Giving Dykes the Cal job is like giving a third-grader the keys to a sports car.

Dykes is one of those coaches who focuses on warp-speed, pass-filled offense and pays little attention to defense.The problem was that the defense, under coordinator Andy Buh, was so bad--among the nation's worst--that Cal was out of most games by halftime. Clearly the players weren't properly taught basic fundamentals by this woefully inferior coaching staff.. .

The Cal program needs a whole new crop of quality players, which it's not going to get during the Dykes regime. Sources say the word has been out among high-school recruits--don't go to Cal while Dykes and his staff are in charge. Also, opposing recruiters are, appropriately, bad-mouthing the Bears. If  you were a high-school hotshot with options, why would you sign up with losers like Sad Sonny Dykes and his crew? They'll get players but not the top-notch class needed to come back from the dead.

It's not like his players love Dykes. According to sources close to several Bear players, the team tuned him out long ago Their effort in games was mostly halfhearted. Clearly, in the second-half of the Big Game, players were going through the motions. You don't do that when you respect your coaches.

Dykes, predictably, is blaming injuries for Cal's woes. Don't believe it. You can be under-manned and still be a tough, gritty team that honors its coaches and plays hard. That wasn't the Bears this season.

No question, money and contracts are a problem in dumping Dykes. Cal had to pay Jeff Tedford millions last year when they kicked him out. To get rid of  Dykes would be costly. Cal would wind up paying three coaches--two old ones and a new one. Boosters would have to come up with big bucks to make this happen.

It would be great if the administration fired Barbour, who's been an all-around lousy AD. The new AD probably wouldn't tolerate a bungler like Dykes. But Barbour probably isn't going anywhere. And neither is Dykes while she's in charge.

If you're in Berkeley and you happen to be in the vicinity of Memorial Stadium, listen for "Taps." You just might hear that somber melody, off in the distance, honoring the dead Cal football program.