The Golden Bears hire gunslinger Davis Webb for a one-year ride in Berkeley

Webb and the Bears open the season on Friday, Aug 26th vs. Hawaii in Australia. Kickoff is 7pm PST on ESPN. (photo by Ronald Martinez)

By Connor Buestad |

When CAL Head Coach Sonny Dykes arrived back in Berkeley and plopped down into his Memorial Stadium office chair following the 2015 season, he no doubt had a lot of reflecting to do. With arguably the best quarterback in the nation (Jared Goff) leading his “Bear Raid” offense for the third year in-a-row, CAL turned in an exciting, but less-than-fulfilling year that included a three week stint in the Top 25, a losing record in the PAC-12 and a blowout win at the Armed Forces Bowl.

Early 2016 brought about the departure of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin to Middle Tennessee State, while Dykes’ decorated pupil Jared Goff jetted off to Chicago to shake hands with Roger Goodell as the very first pick in the NFL Draft. Dykes reliable group of veteran receivers were also long gone, leaving the fourth year head man left to wonder where to steer his ship next.

With Goff’s wake of passing records still rippling through Strawberry Canyon, Dykes knew he needed a new QB, and a good one at that. His stable of young quarterbacks coming up the pipeline in Berkeley weren’t going to cut it, he thought, at least not this year. So Dykes headed home to Texas to hunt for football talent. There he found Davis Webb, sitting on the bench at Dykes’ alma mater Texas Tech, hungry to lead an offense.

At 6’3”, 220 pounds, Webb fits the mold of your prototypical pro-style quarterback. Kyle Boller comes to mind if you were to compare him to a CAL QB of the past, and indeed, Webb will wear Boller’s #7 this fall for the Blue & Gold. The 21-year-old will only suit up for one year in Berkeley, as a Public Health graduate student. But for a variety of reasons, Dykes is banking on Webb making an immediate splash in the Bay Area.


As you could have almost predicted, Webb grew up in a household led by a Texas high school football coach in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, an area where amateur football is treated as religion. Webb originally was the QB at Keller High, but when his father was let go, he followed him up to Prosper High to play his senior year and win a district championship. Webb’s successful move between high schools and a stellar senior season landed him a gig at pass-happy Texas Tech. A perfect fit for a Texas born high school QB looking to put up big numbers with dreams of the NFL.

When Webb arrived on campus in Lubbock, he found himself thrown into a quarterback battle with Baker Mayfield, now a Heisman favorite at Oklahoma. Webb earned six starts as a freshman at Tech, while Mayfield got seven. Webb didn’t disappoint when he got his chances under center, throwing for 20 touchdowns, including a 45 for 71 performance vs. Oklahoma State. By season’s end, Webb set records for true-freshman QB’s in the BIG-12 and in the Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State that year Webb got the start and won MVP of the game.

Webb had the Tech job all to himself as a sophomore, but his productive season came crumbling down due to various injuries including a broken ankle and a torn labrum. His job would be lost to the upstart Patrick Mahomes, and Webb was never able to get it back. Last year, as junior, Webb served as the backup. The restless competitor found time to not only get himself healthy and push Mahomes in practice, but also graduate from Tech with an undergraduate degree in only three years. Thus, making him a college football free agent of sorts. So long as he could get into grad school somewhere, he could play right away.

Webb originally committed to Colorado to play out his senior year in the PAC-12 and get back on track toward his NFL dreams (Mel Kuiper Jr. has Webb slated as the no. 1 senior QB draft prospect). But things changed when a perfect quarterback situation opened up in Berkeley and Dykes invited #7 onboard in Berkeley. It wasn’t long before Webb packed his car up with his mom and drove the 20 hour trip from the Texas plains to the Bay Area. If Webb could be the starter, you didn’t need to tell him twice.

CAL’s new offensive coordinator is 31-year-old Jake Spavital, who comes to Berkeley from Texas A&M where he cut his teeth coordinating SEC-level offenses. Part of Webb’s draw to CAL stems from Coach Spav’s “Air-Raid Offense” background which includes time at the innovative U of Houston. While at Texas A&M, Spavital coached with Kliff Kingsbury (Webb’s coach at Texas Tech). On top of that, Dykes coached offense at Texas Tech from 2000-2006, further solidifying the bridge between Lubbock, Texas and Berkeley, California (at least as far as football ideology goes).

With a familiar playbook under his arm and a healthy/mature body, Webb will try to lead the Bears to a breakthrough season they couldn’t quite pull-off with Goff the last three years. Webb will need to mesh with an inexperienced receiving corps extremely quickly, as the Bears will be playing for real on August 26th vs. Hawaii (in Australia). September 17th brings the improved Texas Longhorns to Berkeley in what will be a tall-task, not to mention Christian McCaffery’s Stanford Cardinal, Oregon, USC, and the rest of the usual suspects up and down the coast.

Whether CAL’s defense can summon the strength to slow down PAC-12 offenses enough to push Dykes and the Bears into a major bowl game is a tough question to answer, even for the most optimistic Old Blue. Fortunately, Bear fans can take solace in the fact that 2016 will have a battle-tested, shoot-first-ask-questions-later Texan to lead them into battle. 

Section925 Podcast Episode 56 - CAL Football Head Coach Sonny Dykes

Photo COURTESY of Michael J. Burns,

Photo COURTESY of Michael J. Burns,

Sonny Dykes discusses his start in a Texas high school teaching and coaching, his ascension through the Junior College coaching ranks, and the pivotal assistant coaching positions that laid the foundation for the "Bear Raid" offense. Dykes also addresses Cal's defensive struggles, recruiting and improving the culture of football and academics in the program. Finally, Dykes takes sides in the great Blondie's vs. Fat Slice debate.

Section 925 Podcast Episode 49 - CAL Football Coach Jacob Peeler

Coach Peeler is excited about the recent CAL recruiting class he just helped sign.

CAL Inside Receivers coach Jacob Peeler (@PeelsJP) joins Tripper to share his inside perspective on Bears football. Coach Peeler, a central Mississippi native, discusses his journey to Berkeley by way of Louisiana Tech. He also talks about life on the recruiting trail and discusses CAL's latest class of talented freshman.



Or on iTunes...


Jared Goff Comes out Gunning in his Collegiate Debut

Goff's first college TD pass was a 52 yard deep post to Chris Harper (Photo by Jose Fajardo)

By Connor Buestad |

As the clock approached midnight on the last night of August, Jared Goff sat exhausted in the Cal Football media room following what had to be the fastest 4 hours of his life. He had just thrown the ball an eye-popping 63 times, good for 445 passing yards in route to a whirlwind loss to Northwestern in his first college game. You couldn’t blame him if he wasn’t exactly colorful in the postgame presser.

“I didn’t even know I threw it that many times,” Goff explained postgame, very matter-of-factly. “It’s more than I threw in high school, but it didn’t feel like that much more. I was just throwing the ball when I was supposed to, handing off when I was supposed to, you know, it just happened to work out like that.”

On this night, according to head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin at least, Goff was ‘supposed’ to throw the ball a whole helluva lot. Set up in the shotgun for the entirety of the game, Goff orchestrated an offense that operated at a breakneck speed. The 99 plays the Bears ran from scrimmage was the third highest total in Cal history. Not bad for a 18-year-old’s first night of college football, playing against an elite Big-10 team.

Believe it or not, never before has a true freshman started the season as the Bears starting quarterback. Nor has any Cal frosh ever thrown for that many yards in a single game.  In fact, only one other quarterback in the history of Cal,  Pat Barnes in 1996, has thrown for that many yards in a game before and he needed four overtimes to do so.

“I’m really excited for the future of our offense,” said Goff following his stellar first impression in blue and gold. “You saw in the third quarter how much rhythm we can get and how much our offense can get rolling. I’m super excited about it.”

It is becoming abundantly clear that Jared Goff is much more Ken Dorsey or Joe Montana than current Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Not one to dominate a conversation or bring attention to himself, Goff has already established himself as a cool customer who is content with simply making the right play on each and every down. And beside just one interception that was his fault, Goff did just that. He took the snap and preceded to quickly make the right play, over and over again. Just as Dorsey did in Miami’s heyday during the early 2000’s, Goff utilized his playmakers all night long, spraying the ball around the field to Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Brendan Bigelow for smooth, consistent yardage gains.

It is safe to say Sonny Dykes’ signiture Air Raid offense showed up in Berkeley as advertised, much to the delight of the big crowd on hand on a picturesque night at Memorial Stadium. Sonny's young offense seemingly made it their goal to run as many plays as they could in the allotted 60 minute timeframe. It eventually got the the point that the experienced, Big-10 tested defense of Northwestern decided to resort to the type of gamesmanship usually reserved for defenses playing against the vaunted Oregon Ducks. If nothing else, it was a compliment to the Bears new offense that the Wildcats of Northwestern would resort to “allegedly” faking injuries on the field to slow down the Goff/Harper/Treggs “Bear Raid” onslaught.

It wasn’t more than three weeks ago that redshirt freshman Zach Kline, complete with a year of seasoning and a dominate high school career under his belt, was assumed to be the starter on opening night. That never came to fruition, however, as Sonny instead decided to hand the reins over to the cool headed Goff, a son of a Major League baseball player and Cal alum.

Goff’s high school coach at Marin Catholic, Mazi Moayed, has no problem going on record and comparing Goff to Joe Montana and Tom Brady and pegging his understudy as a future NFL’er. After Saturday night, that sort of praise seems to make logical sense, albeit it was just one game.

Yes, Goff technically threw three interceptions on Saturday, and no he didn’t get the W. But what he did do is restore hope in Berkeley that great quarterbacking can and will take place on the Memorial Stadium turf. Now if only he can find a way to steal a victory over Ohio State or Oregon, then the Dorsey comparisons can really begin to pass as the truth.

Bryce Treggs was all over the field catching balls on Saturday night (Photo by Jose Fajardo)

"A New Era Up In The Canyon" - Previewing 2013 CAL Football

(Kristopher Skinner/BayArea News Group)

By Devin "Reno" Wright (@TheRealReno)

So here we are. Back to square one again. It has all come full circle.

In 2001 the Cal Bears turned in one of the worst seasons in, well, since the forward pass was introduced to football. A year later, they hired offensive guru Jeff Tedford away from Oregon, and all of a sudden, the Bears were contenders. We were winning games, churning out All-Americans and NFL studs, going to bowl games, beating SC, UCLA, and Oregon. It was a glorious time in Berkeley.

In 2004 we were robbed of a Rose Bowl by a self entitled program and a sketchy voting system (not to get political but that seems to be the norm for Texas, cough..George Bush..cough Rick Perry). Then we were on the cusp of a No. 1 ranking, only to see it all dramatically fall apart in 2007. Soon thereafter, a downward spiral ensued, and no one seemed to be able to stop the mounting losses. Years of mediocrity accumulated, eventually leading Sandy Barbour to come down with the axe on the "Ted Head Era".

Enter 2013. A new coach, running a new offense and defense, a new stadium, and #CAF new uniforms. Cal fans can't help but feel a little bit better about the future of the program, but maybe that is because we have NO IDEA what that future holds. What we do know is, 2013 will be a very interesting year for Cal football. Come with me as I break down the 2013 Bears before they embark on one of the toughest schedules a Pac-12 team has ever encountered.


Before we break things down by position group, let us think about a few of the names on this side of the ball. Zach Kline, Austin Hinder, Jared Goff, Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco, Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs, Maurice Harris, Kenny Lawler, Richard Rodgers, Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock. There is A LOT of potential here to form a great offense in Sonny Dykes' new #BearRaid system.


The name of the game here is potential. After the transfer of Allan Bridgeford, the QB competition has been whittled down to 3 contenders, none of whom have taken a single snap at the NCAA level. But, as mentioned before, this group is all about what might be. Kline, Hinder, and Goff were all very highly recruited signal callers out of high school (Kline from San Ramon Valley, Goff from Marin Catholic). All three bring different skills to the table as well. Kline is the big armed QB that gets the ball out quick and deep when needed. Hinder probably has the lesser of the three arms, but has the ability to make plays out of the pocket with his feet. Goff is a true Frosh that is rumored to be very comfortable with the system, as he played in a similar spread type system during his high school days in Kentfield.

Coach Sonny has stated that he likes all three of the QB's he has, and knows all these guys can run his system, but he would like to get this competition figured out as soon as possible early on in August. I think I speak for all the fans when I say that we do as well.

My pick is Kline, by the way. Mostly because I want to see him play and live up to the hype that media outlets like The Section have eagerly bestowed upon him.

Running Back:

Bigelow, Bigelow, Bigelow. PLEASE GIVE THE KID THE BALL!!

I wish someone could get an answer from Tedford as to why Brendan Bigelow only touched the ball 86 times last season (45 were kickoff returns). Did Tedford miss this game? Bigs only carried the ball 38 times after this game, and only 4 times in the NEXT GAME. This kid has the talent to be the best RB in the Pac, but he needs to touch the ball to prove it. Louisiana Tech Running Back Kenneth Dixon carried the ball 200 times last year in Sonny's #BearRaid offense. If Bigs can stay healthy, this kid is has the potential to go HAM on Pac -12 defenses week in and week out.

After Bigs, it looks like Daniel Lasco will get the lion's share of the backup carries. Lasco is more of a "between-the-guards" back who enjoys lowering his pads, looking for contact, and driving the pile. Behind Lasco will be a mix of Darren Ervin and Jeffrey Coprich. It should be noted that at La Tech, the top two backs had over 140 carries, so expect to see a good amount of rotating in the back field.

Sonny, Treggs, and Mo Harris go over the Bear Raid offense inside Memorial Stadium (Kristopher Skinner/BayArea News Group)

Wide Receiver:

Bryce "Trigga" Treggs likes to call the Cal wide receiving corps, "The Heem Team." This is where I think the most talent lies on this Bears young squad. Treggs and Chris Harper are beasts. The two came onto the scene as freshman last season and made some incredible plays. Now, with a wide open offense to work in, these two are due for breakout seasons that should get them some national pub.

Harris (who is somehow still a sophomore), Lawler, Darrius Powe, Richard Rodgers (in the #BearRaid, there are no Tight Ends), Bryce McGovern, Maximo Espitia and Jackson Bouza can all make plays. All these pass catchers bring different elements to the table in terms or stretching the field, and settling in the zone. If they can pick up the system, and get in a rhythm with their new QB, this group has a chance to be the most well rounded in the conference.


This is a group of Big Uglies that has A LOT to work on. Now, few of us were big fans of the erratic Zach Maynard, but the kid was often running for his life in an attempt to make plays. The Bears will start this season with only two returning starters up front. Now, that usually is viewed as a bad thing, but with how poor the line played last season (allowing almost 4 sacks a game), getting some new blood in there shouldn't be a bad thing.

Cal's line will be anchored by the insanely talented and massive LT Freddie Tagaloa. He will likely be joined by Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock, Alejandro Croswaithe, and Matt Cochran. While this group will probably be young no matter who starts, the key will be finding a starting center that can make the right line calls and that will keep the Quarterback clean versus uber-athletic teams like Ohio State and Oregon. Adjusting to a new blocking scheme will also be of great importance for this group. While they will be young, it bodes well for the future the more games the young guys get under their belts.


If there was one group that the Tedford staff always recruited well, it was Defensive Line. Of course that was thanks in large part to the Cal version of Benedict Arnold: Tosh Lupoi. There was a lot of hype from guys like Deandre Coleman and Viliami Moala, but we are still waiting on them to have their break out seasons. The scheme change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 will put guys like Todd Barr and Chris McCain on the end of the line, where their speed should help in the pass rush, but their size could be an issue in the run defense.

Mustafa Jalil, Dan Camporale, Puke Lopa, and Gabe King can provide depth up front. But the big question is how will these guys adapt to a new scheme lead by new Defensive Coordinator Andy Buh, and D-Line coaches Barry Sacks (perfect last name right?) and Garrett Chachere (note: Like the WR's, who have separate slot receiver and outside receiver coaches, the D-Line has both interior and ends coaches).


A quick note: Last season, Nick Forbes lead the team in tackles. The next two guys on the list were Defensive Backs. That isn't a good thing, especially in a 3-4 defense that is designed to have the linebackers make most of the tackles.

The switch to the 4-3 alignment will be an adjustment for the Bears linebackers as well. This is a very young group, that has not played a lot, but certainly has some potential. They were very young, and were very inconsistent last season. Other than Nick Forbes, it remains to be seen who will step up in Fall Camp and be named starters.  Penn State transfer Khari Fortt, and youngsters like Michael Barton, Hardy Nickerson Jr, and Jason Gibson will get a chance to crack the starting line up. Meanwhile, Jalen Jefferson, and Brennan Scarlett will need to impress in their new roles in the 4-3 if they want to see extensive playing time on the field this year.

Defensive Backs:

Here is what we do know. Avery Sebastian likes two things, tweeting, and hitting. This is a guy who can really take the next step by improving with his pass defense and creating some turnovers from his safety spot. After that, it's kind of a guessing game for the Bears defensive backfield.

Kameron Jackson saw time in all 12 games last year, and showed some flashes with three interceptions. Stefan McClure did not play at all last year, but might be considered the frontrunner for the other starting job. Michael Lowe should hold down the other starting safety job with Sebastian.

After that core group, it is really up in the air regarding depth with this group. Expect a lot of the younger guys to see time this season.


As a fan, my thinking is simple, There is talent on this team.

If the offense can get acclimated to the new system we should be able to score in bunches. This leaves the onus on our defense to get stops, against some of the best offenses in the country no less.

Why can't we go 7-5 and make a bowl game? We did it with Tedford in his first year (minus the bowl game due to a bowl ban). Unfortunately, only 9 starters are coming back, and the Bears are facing a schedule that features home games against Northwestern, Ohio St, USC, Oregon St, and road games at Oregon (which comes right after Ohio St), Washington, UCLA, and Stanfurd. It really doesn't get much tougher for a young team that is breaking in a new QB, and learning a new system on both sides of the ball. I'm hoping for 7-5 or 6-6, but I'm afraid we are looking at something like 5-7. Let's hope the young kids develop (especially at QB and DB), and lay the foundation for what I think will be a successful future in Strawberry Canyon.


Zach Kline, pictured here in 2011 on the turf, expects to be named QB1 by Aug. 31st.

“Country Comes to Town” - Sonny Dykes Arrives in Berkeley to Lead the Golden Bears

(Photo by Brant Ward, The Chronicle)

By Connor Buestad (

Deep in the heart of Texas, days after Sonny Dykes was introduced as Cal’s newest football coach, his father, Spike Dykes, is talking pigskin with a couple of football junkies on the “Cook's Pest Control Hotline.”

At 75 years old, and with a glorious football career in his rearview mirror, Spike has no politically correct filter, no recruiting agenda, no schtick, just some stories about the good ol’ days of amateur football in the Lone Star State. And when the topic comes up of his boy moving out west to coach the Golden Bears, Spike shoots straight as an arrow.

“You talk about country come to town,” says Spike with a chuckle. “I think we probably dance to different drummers, you know what I’m saying? I don’t think I’d fit too good out there (in California). But I hope he does, I hope he can do it.”

And by “I hope he can do it,” we all know what Spike really means. Can his boy Sonny do what has proved impossible for the past 55 years in Berkeley? Can he bring a Rose Bowl berth to the faithful of Strawberry Canyon? Can he restore order in program that finished 3-9 last year while sporting the lowest graduation rate of all Pac-12 schools (48%)? One thing we’ve learned already, if Sonny succeeds, he’ll do so by keeping things simple, just like his old man did.

Born in the fall of 1969, Sonny Dykes grew up in Big Spring, Texas, as the son of a football coach. In a state certifiably obsessed with football, where a good seat at a high school game can require a Season Ticket Personal Seat License, Sonny was fed football for as long as he could remember. Naturally, he wanted to be the next Roger Staubach. The only catch was that he wasn’t very good. At least, not good enough to play for his dad, who was the coach of Texas Tech at the time. Fortunately, he knew how to handle a baseball bat.

“I was just kind of an average high school football player and if wanted to play I was gonna end up going to some school I’ve never heard of to play football,” Sonny told KNBR. “I just happened to be a little better at baseball. I could at least go to a school I’ve heard of. I was just kind of a guy on the baseball team.”

But following his graduation, there was no shaking the football lifestyle that had been ingrained in him at a young age. Even if he wasn’t good enough to cut it as a player, he couldn’t help but go back to it as a coach.

Sonny’s first legitimate coaching job took him 55 miles south of downtown Dallas to a small football town called Corsicana, Texas. The city’s motto is “Live, Work, Play.” It was Sonny’s kind of town. Sonny coached the quarterbacks at Navarro College. In his second year they made it to the Texas Junior College Championship. Soon thereafter, Sonny wound up at the University of Kentucky, where he served as an assistant to Hal Mumme, the Godfather of the “Air-Raid” offense. The Air-Raid concept led him back to Texas Tech, where he coached under fellow Air-Raid master Mike Leach. This was followed by a stint in the Pac-10 as an offensive coordinator at Arizona, and finally three years as the head man of Louisiana Tech in the WAC. Today, Sonny finds himself behind the wheel of a team and program ripe with potential, but fraught with flaws as he heads into the 2013 season facing perhaps the toughest schedule in college football.

This will be the first year Cal has had a new football coach since Jeff Tedford was hired back in 2002. Much like Dykes, Tedford was brought in based on his acumen as an offensive coordinator. Dubbed a “quarterback guru,” Tedford came to Berkeley with an offensive mindset, determined to jumpstart a god-awful program. In his freshman campaign, Tedford gave Bears fans a winning season, just one year removed from a 1-10 debacle under Tom Holmoe. By his third season, Tedford had the Bears ranked in the top 10 nationally, knocking on the Rose Bowl door.

During the middle of Tedford’s time in Berkeley, good times were rolling, and there seemed to be no end in sight. Tie-dyed “TedHead” shirts were printed, Marshawn and DeSean routinely ran wild, multi-million dollar stadium renovations were drawn up, and the Bears even flirted with a number 1 ranking. Somewhere along the line, however, Tedford seemed to lose his mojo, quality quarterbacks slowly stopped walking through his office door, and he was eventually forced to give up the once-promising program he cultivated.

In his shoes now stands a swashbuckler named Sonny Dykes who has been entrusted with the tall task of bringing the Bears back to Pac-12 prominence. It appears he plans to do so with the mantra of “KISS… Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

While Tedford was known for implementing a thick, complex playbook each fall, Dykes plans to take the exact opposite approach with the Air-Raid, or “Bear-Raid,” as it is now appropriately called in Berkeley. No doubt, Tedford’s offense worked wonderfully when it was run by a quarterback up to the task (see Rodgers, Aaron), but the complexities of the Tedford attack seemed to fall apart under his less adept signal callers in the past few years. Dykes, on the other hand, values the power of simplicity to make his offense move.

The Air-Raid style that Dykes will use traces itself back through a web of successful coaches. It is said the initial framework of the offense was spawned at BYU during the exciting passing years of Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Ty Detmer. LaVell Edwards was the coach during that era, and it was his mission to give his quarterbacks a simple, free and easy system to work in. Huddle only when you have to, use four wide receivers, let the QB go from the shotgun, and have him audible whenever he sees fit. This system worked, year after year, and it spawned a coaching tree that eventually named the system the “Air-Raid.” Hal Mumme took to it first, followed by Mike Leach, and now Sonny Dykes. 

In his three-year stay at Louisiana Tech, Dykes more than proved the value of the Air-Raid. Last season, Dykes’ offense churned out 577 yards and 51 points on average per game—all with an offensive playbook that consists of roughly 20 core plays. Huddles were mainly an afterthought last season, as Dykes’ offense reeled off the second-most offensive plays from scrimmage in all of Division I. Get to the line, survey the defense, snap it and let your athletes make plays. Rinse and repeat.

“Athletes who make plays” certainly have not been in short supply in Berkeley over the past decade. One would be hard pressed to flip on the tube on a fall Sunday and not see a Cal alum starring for an NFL team. Pro talent has been steadily flowing through the Cal recruiting pipeline, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t fully blossomed in Berkeley, especially at the quarterback position. Sandy Barbour and company are banking on the hope that a little simplicity will be just what the doctor ordered.

While Tedford leaves behind all the positives that come with a renovated Memorial Stadium and a new high-performance training facility, he also leaves his successor with an incredibly competitive schedule to navigate. Dykes inherits the least experienced team in all of the Pac-12 (five returners on defense, four on offense to be exact), and must face Big-10 power in Northwestern right out of the gate. Two weeks later, the team expected to claim the national championship and the Heisman Trophy, Ohio State, will show up in Berkeley. Sprinkle in a late September road test at Oregon and you have yourself a murderous first month of the season to contend with.

Dykes can only hope his simple, straightforward offense will jibe with what will likely be redshirt freshman Zach Kline at quarterback. If Kline can channel his inner Jim McMahon and Steve Young, the Bear-Raid will provide all the freedom he needs to make plays. What the offense won’t provide is a complex, intricate system designed to deceive the defense and hide offensive flaws.

Sonny Dykes, born in America’s football heartland to the son of a famed Texas coach, knows the drill all too well. Success isn’t measured by progress, or talent, or potential, but rather the cold hard facts of wins and losses and BCS Bowl appearances. It’s “win now,” and after that, it’s “what have you done for me lately.” It’s coaches at SC and Oregon bending the rules and breaking for the NFL as soon as it gets too hot. It’s Mike Leach at Washington State, it’s Jim Mora Jr. at UCLA, David Shaw at Stanford. It’s non-conference games vs. Big-10 powers. It’s the Wild West of college football, and good ol’ Sonny now finds himself right in the thick of it all. The Bear-Raid era is upon us and Cal fans can only pray it delivers the Rose Bowl they have long deserved.

(Photo by Lenny Ignelzi/AP)