Source: Cal Football
Apologies for missing last week - I was in New York on a work trip so it’s weeks 3 & 4 in one article.
The times have certainly changed from 2018 and 2019 when defensive strength meant that virtually any lead was safe. I falsely assumed this against Sacramento State when Nikko Remigio returned the kickoff to the house to go up 28-6. I was in an Uber heading into Manhattan watching the game on my phone, and when he took it all the way I put my phone down and decided to enjoy the city. Roughly two hours later, I nearly spit out my sake at a Korean BBQ place in midtown when I checked the score - 42 to 30. We gave up over 400 yards passing to an FCS school?
A week later, back safe at home in Santa Monica, I experienced a wave of emotions during the UW game as both sides of the ball ebbed and flowed between strong performance and costly mistakes. By the time Damien Moore fumbled on the goal line - I was exhausted. Though there have been plenty of rough seasons in my almost two decades of Cal fandom, this is the most emotional draining one. There are many things I can attribute it to, but the overarching question is this: in year 5 of the Wilcox era, is this as good as it gets?
Hold: Wilcox on the hot seat.
I wrote after the Nevada game that while Wilcox’s seat wasn’t yet hot, but it was warming. A competitive loss on the road in Pac-12 play isn’t going to get him on the hot seat, but the program trajectory is troubling. When I look at the 3 main reasons for making a coaching change, Wilcox is hitting all of them.
-A poor on the field record
-Recruiting momentum gone sideways
-Dwindling fan support
When will he officially be on the hot seat? At this point, we have to take it one game at a time. However, a loss to Washington State this weekend would get him there. We need to start winning, like right now.
Buy: Bill Musgrave
I’ll voice my support for Coach Musgrave. Despite a bumpy start against Nevada, I think he has done a great job the past 3 games. It’s too bad we didn’t have him around for 2018 and 2019, it would have been fun to see what that team could have done with a competent offense. It hasn’t been perfect, but given the identity of this team is supposed to be defensive-oriented, I think Musgrave has met and exceeded his expectations.
Sell: Special Teams miscues
The mistakes on special teams need to stop. I don’t need to remind anyone reading this article that there were plenty of costly errors in 2020, and that has continued into 2021. It’s made a major impact on all 3 losses, but especially TCU and UW. Responsibility for consistent mistakes like this are all on coaching, and Charlie Ragle needs to fix things quickly. Amazingly, Charlie Ragle is the only original member of Wilcox’s 2017 coaching staff. A bad sign?
It’s been brutal seeing how many key players have gone down completely or dinged up. Is this a valid excuse for the poor start? Kind of. I think the only legitimate excuse for losing games due to injury is 1) when your starting quarterback goes down 2) you need to go to the third string guy at multiple positions. Outside of QB, injuries are a part of football and it’s the head coach’s job to recruit and develop enough talent to have players step in when needed. That has been a weak spot in Wilcox’s tenure, and you’re seeing the result of that now.