Tuesday, January 31, 2012


            (First off, aren’t you embarrassed you care what a bunch of 17 and 18 year old children do?  These adolescents have never even voted in an election, yet they affect how we think about (the once) greatest University in the World.  How pathetic are we?)


            Tomorrow is signing day.  You’ve all seen the speculation.  5 Star McCarthy has left Cal for UCLA.  5 Star Thompson is de-committing and tweeted he’s going to Washington. 5 Star Arik Armstead opted for Oregon (he was ready to early enroll at Cal just two weeks ago, the day Kline did)  And it looks like Treggs is going to UCLA and Dosier to WSU—but I can’t confirm that. 

                        Had Lupoi stayed and the chips fallen correctly, Cal was set to have (not the #5 recruiting class) but the #1 recruiting class in the entire country!  This was intolerable to Sarkesian and the rest of the Pac 12. 
            Make no mistake about it.  This was not the fortunes of war. This was planned, deliberate, intentional, and pre-meditated.  (In other words, a lot like my honeymoon).  

            Speculation around the league has far surpassed the simple gossip stage. 
            The Big Boys around the league had realized early on, what none of us had ever grasped completely.   Should Cal ever become a legitimate launching pad for an NFL career—none of the other schools will be able to compete for young kids.

            Cal is finally poised to offer more than any other school in the country.   

         Granted, the following isn't rocket science, but think about it from Sark's POV:
Perfect weather.  We have neither the Arizona Desert, Baton Rouge’s humidity, nor Michigan’s winters.  Located in the Bay Area we offer a couple more things to do than South Bend’s choice of either Arby’s Steakhouse, Red Lobster or Papa Murphy’s Pizza.  Cal is as diverse, inclusive, tolerant and “un-racist” as any Campus in the country.  Our sheepskin is worth its weight in gold (and don’t fool yourself.  Most parents of inner city kids want their children to have that diploma more than that NFL ring—though they are seduced by the potential riches the NFL) . The traditions of Telegraph Ave. Free Speech, Activism and dissent (though a turn off to some kids’ parents) are appealing to many youngsters because they see those terms as code for “lots of sex.”

What we hadn’t had (until Tedford) was a competitive football program and (it kills me to admit this even matters—but apparently it does) even minorly competitive athletic facilities.  It turns out that the new Simpson High Performance Center is really a draw.

We also had an outmoded stadium (which is a Cathedral to most of us) but probably demonstrated a lack of respect for intercollegiate athletics to potential recruits.  Other schools could easily bad mouth us and denigrate our commitment to intercollegiate athletics due to our dated facilities.

Why go to a program which boasts splinters in its bleachers?  Care to compare it to Oregon’s dedication to sports as defined by its facilities?

(Which would you rather do to prepare for the NFL? Workout on the latest ergonomic, high tech, titanium resistance machine, or go out to the barn like Milo of Croton, and lift the same calf every day until you can heft a full grown bull?  You may get the same results, but which is likely to be more appealing?)

This year’s recruits clearly opted for the former.  They could see that superior conditioning and re-hab facilities could make them superior athletes—and better their chances to play on Sunday.

Instinctively, it appears Tosh Lupoi read the market place and understood this, while the rest of us did not.

I don’t know when Mora (UCLA head coach) caught on (perhaps he just heard it from the different recruits) but speculation is that Sarkesian got it right away (his SC training might have helped) and he knew he had to do something.

Once Cal succeeds, there is no stopping the juggernaut.  He couldn’t afford 3 five Star recruits (as many as are going to Alabama) go to a team in his own back yard.  He had to think outside the box, and think big.  Fortunately, the new Pac 12 TV contract allowed him to do just that.
His secret weapon was a young man named Justin Wilcox (former linebacker coach at Cal), who was (officially) coaching at Tennessee on December 30th when Sark fired his Defensive Co-ordinator, Nick Holt, and hired Wilcox.

I know I have no credibility--despite Dumpster Muffin whispering in my ear, so for the sequence of events (which I had questioned in an earlier post), here’s an  e-mail from Dumpster Muffin’s Horse:  You can depend that this is from the Horse’s mouth, despite the fact that what usually appears here comes from the other end.

                “In the event that you plan to write a follow-up piece to your blog on “L’Affaire Lupoi” I wanted to provide more authoritative information on the issues raised in your post” 
            After losing to Baylor 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl, Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian fired his former Defensive Coordinator, Nick Holt, and other members of his staff. Immediately Coach Tedford alerted Sandy Barbour that UW might hire Justin Wilcox (then Defensive Coordinator at Tennessee and Cal’s former Linebackers Coach) as their new DC. Given the friendship that existed between Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi Coach Tedford speculated Wilcox would come after Lupoi. Barbour and Tedford discussed what resources they had to preemptively make a retention offer to Lupoi. Tedford made an upgraded offer to Lupoi on January 2nd; he accepted and assured Tedford that he was no longer interested in UW (the “bleed Blue and Gold” speech). Nevertheless, UW continued to pursue Lupoi, and Cal made a revised offer on January 10th. Once again this was accepted by Lupoi, and Tedford received assurance that the “recruitment” was over. Once again, UW persisted in their efforts. On January 15th Cal made a final revised offer – a significant increase and very competitive with the rest of the Pac 12 and most of the rest of the nation (excluding the SEC), although well short of what UW was offering ($550,000). Tedford learned that Lupoi was going to UW on January 16th.  


             “Why didn’t they ask us?” Cal supporters would have come up with the money  

From the day that UW fired their defensive staff (December 30th), Sandy Barbour has been in touch with members of the San Francisco Grid Club and its leadership about raising the resources to retain Lupoi and subsequently Coach Kiesau. Based on assurances that private fundraising would supply the necessary resources, Coach Tedford was able to proceed and make preemptive and counter offers to vulnerable staff members. 

            So let’s give credit where credit is due.  On December 30th 2011, Tedford identified a potential problem, alerted the AD and they (discussed what resources they had) to solve it with a pre-emptive raise on January 2nd.

            Soon, I will have much more to add to this (regarding appropriateness, timing,  accountability, and of course, Injurygate)—but that is for another day.

            For  the sake of brevity, know that Sandy has filed a grievance with Pac 12 Commissioner, Larry Scott.  This will get us nowhere, but at least it is now on record.

            With the new TV contract, Pac 12 Presidents and Athletic Directors must get together and re-write the rules of engagement for how we behave.

            Should it be completely Laze Faire with assistant football coaches receiving salaries which could support an entire Varsity Soccer program, a woman’s gymnastic or Lacrosse team? 

            Do we want to be a part of this arms race?  Do we have any choice now that we’ve committed half a billion dollars to new facilities?  If we can’t become “unpregnant”, how are we going to plan to deal with this world, and who is going to develop that plan—and who is going to implement it?

            Two weeks back, L’Affaire Lupoi pointed out many weaknesses in our approach to this new world.  In the Next Cal Fan’s Notes, let’s talk about how we got this way, and what we might do about it. 

Washington carved us a new one, but it didn't have to happen.  And the problem is a lot bigger than just an AD or head football coach.

 How to deal with the current situation? Simple. Drink Heavily!  Until next time....

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70



1 comment:

Russell Arch said...

There's only one thing that doesn't make sense about your article?

All of the reasons you listed (weather, education, facilities, students, etc) about why Cal is a destination for student athletes STILL EXISTED after Tosh Lupoi left for UW. Yet Tosh's departure alone caused so many elite athletes to choose to go to school elsewhere? Something just doesn't make sense here.

To me, the blame for this can be firmly places at Jeff Tedford's feet for two reasons:

#1: Tedford obviously didn't have the relationship he thought with his recruiting "guru". Did Tosh deserve a raise? Hell yeah... and it should have happened after LAST YEAR'S class. Not just when another rival coach comes calling.

Think about it, Cal goes 6-7 in 2010... and Tosh brings in a Top 20 class filled with more Defensive Line talent than anyone west of the Mississippi has ever seen.

Not only that, but Tosh had just fallen on the sword for Tedford as well after he took the hit for the whole "Flopgate" scandal. And don't tell me Jeff didn't know about the elaborate plan of hand signals and fake cramps that went on right under his nose either.

Tedford knew how well Tosh ran Cal's recruiting, and he knew that a HUGE reason many of these kids were choosing Cal was his young assistant... yet he kept him at a measly $150,000/year?

Which brings me to...

#2 Jeff Tedford was a fool for allowing his recruiting to be SOOOO controlled by a young assistant coach that he was underpaying.

Under most programs, recruiting is handled by ALL COACHES in one of two ways: 1.) Coaches recruit by region, or 2.) Coaches recruit by position.

And while I'm not saying that recruiting coordinators don't oversee the whole operation, the fact that Tosh Lupoi had such an affect on players who weren't even Defensive Linemen should have raised flags all over the place!

Allowing Tosh to build personal relationships was great when it was "guaranteed" he'd be in Berkeley for the long haul... but it was pure suicide... well, over the last two weeks.

In the end, what Tosh did to attract talent in such a "Pied Piper" way remains a mystery... but Tedford had plenty of opportunities to minimize the damage that happened when Tosh took his show on the road.

That's part of what being a head coach is... and sadly, this might end up costing Tedford that title in the long haul.