Sonny Dykes explains how Cal is preparing for opening game in Australia

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday July 15, 2016


The first college football game of the season actually takes place on another continent, when Cal and Hawaii kick off in Australia — and the date of the game depends where you are. It'll be Saturday in Australia, but 10 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 26.

College football games have been played in Europe in recent years, but going the other way means Sydney is 17 hours ahead of Berkeley (or seven behind in time of day). At Pac-12 Media Days, Dykes said they’ve been working on securing everything since January, including passports for 120 people and how to train. 

“We’ve talked to everybody,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of other coaches, especially some NFL guys that have taken teams to Europe. We’ve talked to everybody. Strength and conditioning coaches, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to, how they’ve handled it.

We’re going to use some compression things to try and make it easier on legs and the recovery process. We’ve got a great plan in terms of getting our guys up and walking around the airplane and exercising. So, we’ll go straight from landing on Tuesday morning to practice and try to get them acclimated as quickly as we can and ready to play by Saturday.”

The Golden Bears are off the next week (technically Week 1 for everyone else), and Dykes said that was important for Cal to agree to the game. Hawaii faces a 20-hour (or four-hour) difference, and they have to travel to Ann Arbor the following week. But cross-country travel isn’t new for them.

“Fortunately, we were able to make it work, so we’re going to play early,” Dykes said. “That was a big part of it, getting the waiver by the NCAA to be able to play the game early so we could have an open week the next week to get our players back in class and get those guys focused on academics and give them a chance to rest up and prepare for a road game against the San Diego State team, who is probably going to be on an 11-game win streak when we play those guys.”

Dykes has gone from 1-11 to 5-7 to 8-5 at Cal. He lost No. 1 pick Jared Goff, but gained Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb. Only 10 starters return, which is near the bottom of the country, but Dykes said he likes the group.

“I really think in 20-something years of coaching, this is probably my favorite team,” he said. “I like these guys. We’re young, we’re invested, very unselfish, a very mature group, a very focused group, a very hard-working group. So I’m really excited to see what that means.”

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.