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Justin Wilcox's Deck: The Conference Realignment Card
He's tired of it and just wants his football
While attending Sunday’s fall camp practice, there were understandably questions about what the status of the Pac 4 was and the implications for the Cal football program as a whole. I entered the media session with timid expectations, wondering what the both the coaches and players could even possibly say after all the chaos of the last week. After all, it is out of their control. But Justin Wilcox was as punchy as I’ve ever seen him about this situation.
Wilcox has Pac 10 roots with stints at Oregon as a player, then at Washington, USC, and obviously now Cal in the coaching ranks. He knows West Coast football and it’s traditions. He was front and center during the enthralling 2004 Cal season, and served up scrappy defenses for the Huskies and Trojans. Wilcox is no stranger to what’s in front of him and who’s around him. And that’s what surprised me, as he’s always been direct about controlling what you can control.
It’s really sad. From what I know, it didn’t really need to come to this and it’s really unfortunate. It’s frustrating, there’s some anger in there but right now we are focused on this season” - Wilcox
For me, it wasn’t about what he said. It was the undertones and implications that reverberated around the reporters Sunday morning. Justin Wilcox has no cards to play. He just wants to coach football to the best of his ability in the best situation possible. Additionally, he knows that being in that best situation possible requires changes that stem from the top. And he’s letting everyone know locally, regionally, and nationally that there is an expectation of change.
In reference to Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report asking if Carol Christ and Jim Knowlton are aware of his feelings: “They know how I feel and how we feel as a program. Our feelings as a team have been made known to Jim and the chancellor.” - Wilcox
That delivery woke me up from my Sunday siesta. Of course everyone knows what a big deal this is, from coaches to players. It has to sit in the back of their mind like an annoying thought. This impacts all things football: from operations, to recruiting, the opponents, and everything else in between. All this activity from regents across the conference, media partners, and universities alike are being brought at the door of Justin Wilcox and the players, where they have to answer for what they simply don’t know about nor projections about it. The regents have scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday about conference realignment, the clock is ticking close to midnight.
“It’s a big deal. As big as it gets from conference realignment. Right now, we don’t have enough information to answer all the questions we are getting, even all of your questions” - Wilcox
I asked Craig Woodson about what they can even possibly say to recruits as hosts aside from the academics and experience. He told me that’s its still all about the culture we have and offering that up to potential players. I can’t blame him for saying that because that’s what’s certain on these visits, they can only advertise what is a guarantee. But if a recruit from out of the region comes in and asks, “Where can my family watch me on weekends?” not one coach nor player can give them an answer.
This is the plight that Justin Wilcox illustrated to me on Sunday. They just want to put the pads on and represent a fanbase that has given them solid support throughout the years, not any of this baggage. And it’s on Carol Christ and Jim Knowlton to fix it for athletics as a whole, or risk leaving a part of the legacy of the university in a pile of rubble.
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