6 factors to keep in mind for the Cal coaching search

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday January 09, 2017

Cal surprised the college football world by dismissing Sonny Dykes on Sunday.

The move comes after Dykes went 19-30 in four seasons, one year removed from 8 wins and producing No. 1 pick Jared Goff.

This process could play out quickly. Here are 6 factors to keep in mind for the Cal search:

1. The timing raises a lot of questions.

Cal’s season ended five weeks ago. What changed between then and now? Athletic director Mike Williams said there was no single factor, though made it clear Dykes interviewing for other jobs like Baylor upset people at the school.

Williams said he has a short list of candidates, and that better be the case. The recruiting dead period ends Thursday, and Signing Day is at the beginning of February. Cal’s current recruiting class has 15 players and is ranked No. 11 in the Pac-12. The next coach will have work to do. Does he already have a coach lined up? We’ll find out if a hire is made quickly.

2. The athletic department has more debt than any other college.

Per Bloomberg, Cal’s athletic department owes $445 million, far more than anyone else, though it's spread over time. Factors like financing the stadium upgrades a few years ago, full cost-of-attendance and others leads to that, and now you’re adding Dykes’ buyout on top of that, plus the salary for a new coach.

Dykes made $2.9 million annually, and Williams admitted Cal needs a winning program in order to bring in more money.

“We believe that a coaching change will reinvigorate Cal football, stimulate lagging ticket sales and renewals and energize our alumni, fan, and donor and fan base,” Williams said in a letter. “We understand that several influences may contribute to this decline in support.  Still, we need to re-examine everything within our control.  In our assessment, we believe a change in football leadership is appropriate.”

3. Sonny Dykes clashed with administration quite a bit.

One reason Dykes looked at other job was because he felt support at Cal was lacking, either from his own salary or support staff. Dykes received an extension after going 8-5 in 2015— and after interviewing at Missouri. He had the lowest salary in the Pac-12 at that point.

4. Will Cal go with an offensive coach again?

Dykes’ teams scored a lot of points — more than 37 points for three straight years — but the defense was annually among the worst in the nation. Dykes followed Jeff Tedford, another offensive head coach, and most of Cal's recent history includes offensive coaches. Cal’s football identity right now is scoring points, and that’s what you need in the Pac-12. Will Williams look to fix the other side of the ball?

5. Academic standards are high.

Cal is the top-ranked public school in the country. Cal had one of the lowest APR’s among Power 5 schools when he arrived and were getting close to NCAA penalties. This past year, it was tied for the highest in the Pac-12. Williams will be looking for someone to prevent that from falling off again.

6. What are the expectations?

Dykes took over a program that was a mess on the field and off it. Getting let go one year after winning 8 games puts pressure on the next coach. Cal is in the same division with Washington, Oregon, Washington State and Stanford. That’s a very tough division.

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Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.