Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cal Re-signs Football Coach Sonny Dykes--Dumb Move

Cal fans who were hoping the football team would be rid of a blight named Sonny Dykes are now submerged in gloom. The head coach didn't, as the haters hoped, sign with another school. Instead he did what the haters prayed he wouldn't do--sign a long contract extension with the Bears, through 2019, with a juicy raise, bumping his salary to an annual average of $2.85 million.

So, Dykes haters, shelve that bottle of celebratory champagne. Unfortunately it won't be needed. But do get yourself some hard liquor--whatever it takes to drown your sorrows, to ease the pain of the realization that you're stuck with this clown for many years.

The Dykes drama began not long after Cal came from behind on Nov. 28 in its final regular season game to beat Arizona State. 48-46, finishing 7-5 and getting a bid to play Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth on Dec 29, the Bears' first bowl bid since the glory days of the Jeff.Tedford era.

This was the best record in Dykes' three-year tenure, which began with a miserable one-win season. Following this season, though, something was gnawing at Sonny.  He wanted more money--a contract extension and a raise. Insiders say he had been moping all season, feeling underpaid at just under $2 million annually, the lowest salary of any PAC 12 head coach.

When this season ended, Sonny's bosses didn't leap to give Sonny what he wanted. Feeling under appreciated, Dykes was pissed off. So he went job-hunting, first interviewing at Missouri. Also there were rumors he was in the running for openings at South Carolina and Virginia.  But Sonny didn't get any of those plum jobs. The athletic directors at those schools aren't dummies. They know a stiff when they see one. Sonny simply isn't good enough.

For that reason, Cal was slow to re-sign him. Many fans and boosters didn't want him back. Cal, they argued, could do much better. According to sources in the athletic department, the Sonny haters clashed with the Sonny supporters. The battle was apparently ugly. Arguing that Sonny's Cal teams improved each year, the supporters triumphed.

Here's why the haters are hating. Sonny is a one trick pony--an offensive wizard but a lousy head coach. His teams are record-breaking, offensive juggernauts because he smartly recruits and develops offensive players. His work with QB Jared Goff is a prime example. But defensively, the Bears are dreadful. The defenses in his first two years were a mess, the worst in Cal history.

This season the defense was improved but still awful, particularly that klutzy secondary. The Bears win by outscoring other teams in shootouts or preying on other horrible defenses. Cal's defensive players are poor tacklers, often out of position, easy to outwit and.unsure of their roles, They only won the Arizona State game because, in the second half, the ASU defense was, if  you can believe it, worse than Cal's.

To build a good defense you need quality players. That's where Dykes is a liability. When trying to sign defensive players Cal gets killed on the recruiting trail because the word is out that Sonny is soft on defense. If you're a hot-shot defensive prospect looking to maximize your potential, you steer clear of Cal, where you won't get the best coaching or be part of a Grade A unit. So Cal, due to Dykes' rep, is always stuck with average defensive players. Without first-rate coaching, those players never develop into anything special.

Lacking a top-level defense, the Bears will never crack the PAC 12 elite. Teams like Stanford, USC, UCLA and Oregon, which usually have strong defenses, will always be better. During Sonny's reign Cal will, at best, win seven, maybe eight games and go to some minor bowl,.

That's not good enough, insist the detractors. That's aiming low.

How about Cal going to the Rose Bowl or occasionally cracking the national Top 10? With Dismal Dykes and his dreadful defenses?

No Way