We're back this week with another Q&A with one of the many great writers, who cover the Pac-12, getting some insight from CBSSports.com blogger John Breech. With all of the turmoil and gossip surrounding Jeff Tedford in Berkeley, we thought it would good to get John's take on Cal's season thus far along with a little bit on the conference in general.
1. Do you think the rumors of Jeff Tedford losing his job if Cal suffers a losing season are legitimate?
In August, I thought for sure Tedford would get at least two seasons in the new Memorial Stadium (2012-13), but I also didn't think the team would start 1-4. The fan base is unhappy, big donors are unhappy and last time I saw Oski, he looked unhappy too. I won't be shocked at all if Tedford gets fired if the Bears don't make a bowl game this season and right now, it doesn't look like the Bears will make a bowl game this season. With seven game left, Cal still has to play five Top-25 teams and the two non-Top-25 games they play -- Washington State, Utah -- are both on the road. I do think the rumors are legitimate and I think if Cal wins six games and Tedford saves his job, he deserves an extension.
PS - I don't really think the extension part, but I will be impressed if Cal wins six games. Also, if there's a win over Oregon or Stanford, I think he could save his job with five wins.
2. Do you believe that Cal is losing because of a lack of talent issue, or a coaching/game plan issue?
I think everyone in the world would agree that Cal's not losing because of a lack of talent. There's no doubt that Cal has talent. Tedford brings in solid recruiting classes year after year and he sends guys to the NFL regularly, which means, the answer has to be coaching/game plan, right? Right. Glad we all agree.
Lets look at an easy coaching/game plan example here, which is sacks. In the last three games, Cal has surrendered six sacks (Ohio State), seven sacks (USC) and seven sacks (Arizona State) for a combined loss of 153 yards. If the line can't protect the quarterback, then you run the ball. It's as simple as that. If that means you run the ball 50 times, then you run the ball 50 times. Because otherwise, you're just giving the opponent yards. And giving your opponent yards is the opposite of what you want to do in football.
In the "Monday Night Miracle" where the Seahawks beat the Packers a few weeks ago, former Cal QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked EIGHT times in the first half. But guess what, he was sacked ZERO times in the second half because Green Bay adjusted and realized what they could and couldn't do against the Seahawks defense. The point here is that if Rodgers -- a potential Hall-of-Famer -- can't do anything when he's under ridiculous pressure, there's no way someone like Maynard can. I just don't think Cal's adapted the game plan to the talent they have. And make no mistake, they do have talent.
3. Are the departures of Eric Kiesau and Tosh Lupoi effecting Cal on the field this season?
I don't think the departure of Tosh is hurting the team right now. I think as far as X's and O's are concerned, Todd Howard is a better coach. Now when recruiting season kicks into full gear, that could be another story. Tosh is the type of coach that plays X-box with the recruits, Howard seems like the type that would probably play checkers. I don't think recruits like checkers. However, if Howard brings in a couple of 4-star recruits in the near future, I think Cal fans will forget about Tosh, but maybe not his boat.
As for Kiesau, I can't say for sure if his exit hurt the team, but my gut says yes. Although, my gut also thinks pineapples with popcorn is a good combination, so keep that in mind. Kiesau was the only other true offensive mind on staff last season and without him there, Tedford is kind of left to do his own thing this year. Bottom line: on the field this year, Kiesau's absence hurts more than Lupoi's.
4. Has the emergence of Stanford as a power hurt Cal?
I think it's hurt Cal, but I think it's hurt Tedford more. Cal went 5-7 in 2010, but I don't think fans would have cared as much if Stanford had gone 1-11 that year. Instead, the Cardinal went 11-1, made it to a BCS Bowl and beat Virginia Tech so bad, Frank Beamer probably still has nightmares about the game. It's natural to compare yourself to your rival, that's why I compare myself to Zac Efron all the time. Because of Stanford's success, Cal fans have begun to wonder why Cal can't go to two BCS Bowls in a row. Stanford's success has raised the bar, which I think is a good thing for Cal. So it might hurt in the short run, but in the long run, Stanford's success is a good thing.
5. What are the chances that Keenan Allen comes back for his senior season?
The only way Keenan comes back for his senior season is if Zach Maynard is granted another year of eligibility, the NFL ceases to exist and the Canadian Football League turns him down. And the funny thing is, with the way the NCAA is run, the Maynard thing seems like the most unrealistic scenario. Anyway, going into 2012, the school of thought was that if Keenan thought he could get drafted in the first round he'd be gone and right now he's projected as a mid-to-high first round pick. So I'd say there's a 99.7 percent chance he's gone.
6. Which Pac-12 school do you think has the best chance of joining Oregon, Stanford and USC as the conference powers?
Arizona. I'd love to say Washington, but with Oregon and Stanford already established in the north, I think the next conference power will have to come from the South and Arizona is the perfect candidate.basically invented the offense that Chip Kelly runs at Oregon, so I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Arizona turning into an Oregon South. Plus, Arizona isn't exactly a hard sell to an 18-year-old kid. "Do you like nice weather? Do you like attractive girls? Do you like running an offense that puts up video game numbers? OK, great. We'll look for your letter-of-intent in the mail tomorrow."
7. If you could start a program with one current Pac-12 coach, which one would it be and why?
I'd have to go with Chip Kelly. Yes, he hates the media. Yes, he gives vague answers to all questions. No, he doesn't talk about injuries, but all that aside, he's unquestionably the best coach in the conference. He knows his offense inside and out, which means it's easy for him to recruit the right athletes for it. Now, could he succeed without sweet facilities and the $199 billion that Phil Knight gives the program? That's another question, but my guess is yes.