The California Golden Bearcast: The Bears are coug'n the potential
The math is still there for the postseason, but we also need context.
Andy and Rob are back to talk about the WSU game, the ramifications from the game and the overall feeling of where the fanbase might be at after this loss. They also discuss what we can do and have a cold hard facts discussion about the expectations of the program. And as always, listener questions and takes!
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I’m on the same page as Andy and Rob. Not scoring a lot is frustrating, but I’ve been a Cal fan for a long time, and it’s a lot worse not scoring points while your defense also gives up 40-50 points a game and only winning 1-3 games a year. I feel like good defenses are harder to build and maintain than offenses and I like the fact that we’ve been able to do that consistently while not engaging in shady practices and sacrificing who we are. Musgrave and the O-Line coach definitely need to go, but I’m willing to give Wilcox another shot to install someone else who can produce points. We can do so much worse. The first half of Tedford was great. The second half, not so much. Prior to him we had the Holmoecaust from 1997-2001 with no winning seasons for 5 years and some truly horrific losses. I think people forget just how demoralizing that period of football was or weren’t around to experience it first hand. Before him, we got a really inconsistent 6-6 season in 1996 from Mooch before he bailed and went to San Francisco. From 1973 to 1995, we had three winning seasons and no bowl games with Mike White, one 6-6 season and one 6-5 season and a bowl loss with Roger Theder, one winning season, one Play, with no bowl with Joe Kapp in 1982 followed by some really bad years and him getting canned in 86. Bruce Snyder was probably the best thing to ever happen to Cal when he showed up in 1987. He was a program builder, and actually wanted to stay, but even then, he didn’t have a winning season until his fourth year in 1990 and it took a Copper Bowl victory to break .500, his teams were on the losing end of some really lop-sided losses, and his teams were often undisciplined and committed a lot of penalties. He also never won a Big Game, even with his best team, the 10-2 Citrus Bowl team in 1991. After being run off by our idiot AD, we got Washington D-Coordinator Keith Gilbertson who never really wanted to be at Cal and I don’t know why he was hired in the first place. He managed to pull one winning season and a bowl win out of his ass in 1993 largely using Snyder’s recruits. So all told, from 1973-2001, we had 7 winning seasons, 2 .500 seasons and 20 losing seasons, most of which were played by some truly horrific teams and who were on the receiving end of some epic beat-downs. The 2001 USC game in the rain captured the despondency of that era probably better than anything. I say all that because Wilcox is a cultural gem. He’s a program builder, does things the right way, and his teams aren’t on the receiving end of epic beat-downs very often. I feel like there’s some parallels with Snyder and Wilcox, and I don’t want to see him run off the way Snyder was when he was on the edge of doing something special. He just needs an offense, and it’s probably not anything he’s not already thinking about.
Inspiring speech, Andy! Mic drop that middle! I’m right there with you. Given just who Cal is as a football program (i.e. not a blue blood football program and never will be), let’s keep the floor in the middle and give the current leadership the time they need to steadily build the program's floor higher.
Cal fired Tedford with 3 years left on his contract. Fired Dykes with two years remaining on his contract. And importantly, after the season, not during. By those yardsticks, we can’t really be talking about firing Wilcox at least until after the 2024 or even 2025 season. It isn’t going to happen as long as Wilcox keeps the floor rising steadily, albeit very slowly. Cal just isn’t a program that can hire and fire and BUY its way to quick success. Other football programs can do that, but Cal cannot for all the reasons Andy mentioned in the podcast. For a middling program that needs a tortoise not a hare at the helm, I think we need to give Wilcox a LOT of time to work and build.
On the concept of the “middle”: our society is often not accepting of a middle, as Andy pointed out with the polarization of our current media and politics. And admittedly, it’s usually hard to find anything good about being in the middle because it is by definition not good. It’s the middle. But everyone hates being in the gutter, and from there the middle usually looks pretty good. Given the kind of football program Cal is, replacing coaches every 3-4 years will just get us a lot of sad “rebuilding” gutter years over the long haul with few chances for quick turnarounds because there’s no coach out there, even the greatest of them, that is going to be able to BUY Cal’s way to success. We can only slowly BUILD here, and I think Wilcox gets that, and I think the program, being what it is and not likely to change, is right to give him the time he needs to do that.