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What Do Opposing Coaches Think of Cal's Football Program?

Athlon Sports' preview magazine provides anonymous quotes from opposing coaches on what they see in the Golden Bears
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Do you ever wonder what opposing coaches really think about the Cal football program?

Well, the Athlon Sports College Football preview magazine provided a hint. In its assessment of each team, Athlon added a segment of anonymous quotes from opposing coaches. For Cal the segment is listed under the heading: “Scouting the Golden Bears” with a sub-head of “Opposing Coaches Size up California.”

Here’s what those opposing coaches said:

“There’s no reason this program should be as lopsided as they’ve been under the last two head coaches. Sonny [Dykes, Cal’s previous head coach] was all offense; now they’re literally all defense. Justin [Wilcox] is a great guy and has a great rep, but the OC hire didn’t make any sense at the time, and it’s come back to bite them. Plenty of really smart coaches have failed at head jobs because they couldn’t get the other side of the ball right . . . They’ve been really good early on and then they get more and more inconsistent as the year goes on. They’re really, really sound and solid on defense. That part is working great. They respond to whatever you want to throw at them, they can maintain the ability to adjust and dress things up without losing that edge, that ability to get after it. . . . Offensively, it’s vanilla. I think the intention there was to run a risk-mitigation offense to keep the defense fresh, but it hasn’t kept up with the times. I don’t think it’s personnel so much as culture and scheme. They need new ideas . . . When you talk about the issues with the league, this is a program a lot of coaches point to. Wilcox was in on the Oregon job, and not just because he’s an alum. He’s a really good coach. So what’s the problem here? The administration and the city did them no favors with the strict pandemic policy, that’s for sure. But you need the average-level program like this to be better than what they’ve been.”

The magazine’s projections for the 2022 Pac-12 season placed Cal fifth in the six-team Pac-12 North, although its projected record for Cal (6-6 overall, 4-5 in the conference) would put them in a tie for fourth with Washington State.

Here’s Athlon’s projected finish of the Pac-12 teams in 2022, with their predicted record in parentheses.


1. Oregon (9-4 overall, 7-2 Pac-12)

2. Oregon State (7-5, 5-4)

3. Washington (7-5, 5-4)

4. Washington State (6-6, 4-5)

5. Cal (6-6, 4-5)

6. Stanford (4-8, 3-8)


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1. Utah (11-2, 7-2)

2. USC (9-3, 6-3)

3. UCLA (8-4, 5-4)

4. Arizona (4-8, 3-6)

5. Arizona State (5-7, 3-6)

6. Colorado (3-9, 2-7)


With the middle four teams in the North all projected to finish within one game of each other, coupled with the fact that every team is predicted to have at least two conference losses, it seems nothing is certain about the Pac-12 in 2022, and a lot of surprises are possible.

The projected 6-6 record for Cal would get the Bears into a bowl game, and Athlon predicts that Cal will get a berth in the First Responder Bowl against TCU. That would be an outstanding matchup because the Horned Frogs hired former Cal head coach Sonny Dykes as their new head coach.


Cover photo of Justin Wilcox by Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports


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