Who could be the next Cal football assistant?
Could the Bears invite a familiar face back to Strawberry Canyon?
The California Golden Bears have some options to go with their next assistant coaching hire after the departure of linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Keith Heyward.
They could hire a dedicated special teams coach. Justin Wilcox has mentioned at his National Signing Day presser that Cal would not have a dedicated assistant handling that role, but that calculation might change with a new opening on the staff.
They could hire another outside linebackers coach who could handle co-defensive coordinator responsibilities, or they could find a pure position coach to improve the edge recruiting for the Bears.
They could go for someone who combines both of those skillsets.
Let’s take a look at some of the more appealing candidates on the market.
Bob Gregory, former interim Washington Huskies head coach, special teams coordinator (2016-20): Could there be a turnabout in play between Justin Wilcox and his former boss? Gregory was not retained by new Washington coach Kalen DeBoer, so he is open and available.
Wilcox and Gregory have a long history together. Gregory coached defensive backs at Oregon when Wilcox was patrolling the secondary in Eugene in the late 90s, and Gregory was the defensive coordinator when Wilcox got his first major Power 5 job as Cal linebackers coach. Gregory has two decades of Pac-12 experience under his belt and could fill in any role—linebacker coach, co-defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator.
Gregory could also provide additional leadership in the locker room as a co-defensive coordinator, helping give the Bears three coaches with decades of defensive coordinator experience under their belt, like they did when Tim DeRuyter was on staff. Cal’s defenses under Gregory were often solid, occasionally bordering on excellent during the 2004-08 seasons.
On the other hand, Gregory’s performances as Washington special teams coordinator were not-too-impressive. In 2019, they were second in the nation, propping up a limping Husky team in Chris Petersen’s final year as head coach. But then the rest of the years…
2020: 109th (four game sample size though)
Nevertheless, Washington competed for the Pac-12 title in those first three seasons with those rankings! So you could justify trading off the added defensive acumen for some less-than-spectacular special teams results.
There are other options as well.
Andre Carter, former LSU defensive line coach. A former Golden Bear is looking for a new home! After a decade-in-a-half in the NFL, Carter has been coaching for nearly five seasons, and this opening could make for a potentially nice reunion.