The start of the Cal Bears Football Stock Market: Buy, Hold, Sell
What I'm Buying Heading Into the 2021 Season
With the sudden flip of a switch, athletes are able to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness—changing the game overnight. Athletes are now able to monetize their brand and will have their values begin to fluctuate even before they step on college campuses.
As such, we are introducing a new column—Buy, Hold, Sell. Below is what we (me) are buying heading into the 2021 season. While the 2020 season was a small sample size and full of confusion, that means there’s a ton of hidden value. Let’s dig in.
Buy - Bill Musgrave
After only four games in 2020, I’m a buyer of Bill Musgrave. This is likely not the consensus take, but as the legendary investor Howard Marks has pointed out, the only way to beat the market is to have a non-consensus view.
First off, let’s acknowledge that Musgrave had to deal with an unordinary amount of challenges for a first year coordinator. Shortened spring practice, first opponent changed with 48 hours until kickoff, several starters out due to COVID protocols, etc. Considering those circumstances, I liked what I saw. The offense looked more focused and strategic than it did under Beau Baldwin, which had no clear vision. Yes, the conservative playcalling is a fair criticism, but I’m pinning it on the slimmed down playbook due to the aforementioned circumstances. I think Cal’s offense has a chance to turn into a strength—or at the very least, not hold the team back as it did in 2018 and much of 2019.
Also, he liked my tweet about Geoff McArthur and we hold Bachelor’s degrees from the same place. (Yes I am an Oregon grad, but so is Wilcox, Musgrave, and Sirmon.) Buy Musgrave.
Hold - Peter Sirmon
If you heard me as a guest speaker on The California Golden Bearcast following the loss to Oregon State, you’d know I had my reservations about taking the playcalling duties away from Tim DeRuyter and giving them to Peter Sirmon. I felt that the credit for the impressive turnaround on defense fell primarily to DeRuyter, while Peter Sirmon came in with an unimpressive track record as a coordinator at Louisville and Mississippi State.
The defense got off to a rough start at Oregon State (not counting UCLA—hard to prepare for an opponent in two days and then play on the road at 9 a.m.) where they seemed out of position and Oregon State’s offense flowed more than I would have liked. However, I more or less liked the defensive performances against Stanford and Oregon.
Now that DeRuyter is at Oregon, we will truly see how much influence DeRuyter had in the playcalling and game prep. Only time will tell if Sirmon is up to the task and able to handle the full duties.
Sell - 2020 Special Teams
If Cal wants to contend for the Pac-12 North, we can’t have what happened last year. The performance against Oregon State was unacceptable and I could feel the blocked PAT coming against Stanford (a less-than-ideal feeling).
Special Teams comes down to doing simple things very well—here’s to execution in 2021.
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Buy - Nikko Remigio
Nikko is someone whom I felt really increased his stock in 2020 in a short amount of time.
My impression of him completely changed over those four games. His freshman and sophomore years, I felt that he would be a hard working, fundamentally sound wide receiver who could be a reliable staple in the Cal offense. He showed an explosive side to him in 2020 that I had not seen previously. The 89-yard punt return and 94-yard kickoff return being called back against Oregon State were brutal, but barring more execution issues as mentioned above, we should see some more big plays from Remigio in 2021. Big playmaking has been sorely missed in the Cal offense since the departure of Demetris Robertson (War Eagle?) and someone who could stretch the field could turn Cal into a Pac-12 contender.
Hold - Chase Garbers
If you read my QB preview last year, you’d know that I was extremely high on Chase. I wrote that he had NFL potential and that all he has left to prove is he can string together a consistent season.
I still feel that way, though his stock neither increased nor decreased during 2020. I do think he has a shot at being on an NFL roster, but needs to prove he can throw downfield consistently in a pro-style offense before he gets that chance.
Sell - Larry Scott
Bye Larry. We won’t miss you, your exorbitant salary, private jets, penthouse suite stays, and poor decision making.
Buy - George Kliavkoff
I like this guy so far. An out-of-the-box hire, but seems to have an approachable style of management that Larry Scott did not have. Per below, the college football landscape is on the move again, so he certainly has plenty of tough work ahead.
Buy - Kuony Deng
Kuony Deng is a tremendous value. He has unlimited potential and is one of the more interesting athletes Cal has seen in a long time (wide frame, agile, physical, etc.). However, NFL draft boards don’t reflect that, with grades varying from mid-round to undrafted.
If he executes, he could play his way into the early rounds—potentially even the first. He had 119 tackles in 2019, imagine what it will be in a full season without Evan Weaver.
Hold - Brett Johnson
Will he come back in 2021? After that press conference, we have no idea. Holding his stock until we have a clear idea on timeline.
Get well soon Brett and return when you’re healthy. We could use you this season, but priority #1 is getting back to 100%.
Sell - Odd-Year Home Schedule
They should have fixed this given COVID—odd-year home schedules are quite lame. Playing the North contenders on the road (Oregon, Washington, Stanford) and the Pac-12 dwellers at home (Oregon State, Washington State).
I hope that the fan base will show up given the COVID absence, but I’ll admit there are more fun things to do on Halloween than see Oregon State play.
Buy - NIL Rule
This will shake up college football more than anything since its inception. This could benefit Cal if the coaching staff plays its cards right—one of two schools in the tech capital of the world; in the state that would be the fifth-largest economy if it were a country; and an expansive, affluent alumni base.
Sell - Pac-12 TV Deal
Several issues—odd kickoff times, limited subscriber base, etc. George, please fix.
Sell - Delta Variant
Preaching to the choir, but get your vaccine if you haven’t already. If you’re hesitant, ask your doctor, I want an uninterrupted college football season.