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One of the toughest Cal seasons in modern history has come to an end
Cal fans, how are you feeling about the state of the athletic department?
This week, the 2022-23 NCAA athletic calendar officially draws to a close.
It’s safe to say that from beginning to end, this season was one of the worst in Cal sports history.
Cal football put up their worst record in nearly a decade, with only a Big Game win over Stanford salvaging them from complete disaster.
Cal men’s basketball proceeded to finish with one of the worst seasons in college basketball history, somehow winning fewer games than a despondent football program.
Cal women’s basketball improved slightly, but still remains near the bottom of the conference.
Athletic director Jim Knowlton is reportedly under investigation by the University of California with regards to the Teri McKeever scandal, and continues to face scrutiny for ongoing lack of success in the revenue sports.
There are other issues as well.
The departure of USC and UCLA have left Cal pondering their own future, as they lose their two mainstay rivals who they’ve played regularly for over a century.
The Pac-12 is in a bit of a rocky situation as a result thanks to this move, pending a good television deal and grabbing new realignment partners. Although the Bears still should have a home in the future college athletics arms race, it is definitely a disconcerting place to be at the moment.
The pending retirement of Chancellor Carol Christ in 2024 could leave the Bears without their most ardent administrative supporter of the athletic program and could threaten the current subsidy the department has been given.
The new state of the 12-team college team playoff will make it infinitely harder for the Pac-12 champion to find its way to the Rose Bowl, greatly diminishing Cal’s odds of ever returning to Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
The hiring of Troy Taylor, a Cal football legend, at Stanford has led to much internal consternation.
Still, as is typical of even the most pessimistic Cal experience, there is room for optimism as well.
The hiring of Mark Madsen and his relentless recruiting of the portal has restocked Cal men’s basketball, to the point that everyone is thinking they might be competitive this year after one of the worst seasons you could ever fathom.
Cal football has a new offensive staff and has gone hard in the transfer portal to retinker their offense yet again. Third system’s the charm for Justin Wilcox putting points on the board for the Bears?
Cal donors seem to be making a concerted effort to make the NIL pipeline work for Berkeley, leading to better than expected results in portal recruiting and perhaps an easier line to success in the modern era.
A new Pac-12 without UCLA and USC becomes inevitably easier to win, as the Bears will no longer have to rely on success over their talented Southern California rivals to earn a conference title.
So all was clearly not well last year, but there are positive signs that the athletic programs could find their way back toward competitive success.
Cal fans, leave us your thoughts in the poll and in the comments. How are you feeling about the athletic department going into 2023-24?