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Cal Defensive Coordinator Search: Utah State's Dave Aranda Offered, Wisconsin's Andy Buh Interviewed

The California Golden Bears have two serious contenders for defensive coordinator. One of them is Utah State defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. The other is Wisconsin linebackers coach Andy Buh.


Sonny Dykes is bringing most of his Louisiana Tech offensive staff with him to Cal, as Tony Franklin, Rob Likens, Pierre Ingram, and Mark Tommerdahl are all joining him to implement what figures to be one of the most unique implementations of the Air Raid yet in a major college football program.

The big question is who will be the defensive coordinator tasked with trying to hold the offense down?

Two names have surfaced as legit contenders for the job. One of them is Utah State defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who might have to choose whether he wants to coach at Berkeley or Lubbock.

Aranda has familiarity with Dykes from his time as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech. He has been pretty successful on defense whereever he's been from Texas Tech to Houston to Cal Lutheran to Delta State to Hawaii, culminating with a nomination for a Broyles award by helping turn Utah State into one of the strongest defensive units in the conference.

It might seem clearcut to some that Cal is the better job, but Texas Tech offers plenty of appeal too for a guy like Aranda. Aranda didn't just coach at Texas Tech, he earned his master's degree in interdisciplinary studies from there too. He also coached under Greg McMakin at Hawaii the last few seasons as the defensive coordinator; McMakin was Aranda's defensive coordinator . So the Red Raider connect runs deep here, and if Aranda is successful at Lubbock, he could probably vault himself into bigger and better jobs.

Here are some of the biggest advantages Cal could enjoy with Aranda: He was born in California in the Redlands, went to school in California at Cal Lutheran, and is generally a California guy. Regardless of where he's been, he is generally responsible for recruiting the California region. He would immediately head a program with solid talent at almost every position, particularly at linebacker. And given that he's young and would enjoy some of the best facilities in the conference, he'd be able to recruit plenty of top stars in California and around the country to man his defense.

It figures to be a pretty tough decision for Aranda, who will have plenty of factors pulling him both ways.

If Aranda chooses Texas Tech, another potential contender for the job is Wisconsin linebackers coach Andy Buh.

Buh was a defensive administrative assistant at Cal during the last two years of the Tom Holmoe era, but he's probably best familiar to Cal fans as Stanford's linebackers coach in 2007 and co-defensive coordinator in 2008 and 2009, when the Cardinal began their upward trend toward the BCS. Although the Cardinal weren't a great defensive team either season he was the DC, they only really began to stockpile defensive talent near the end of his tenure, and Stanford definitely started making the strides they needed to make his final year there. The biggest feather in Buh's cap were helping to recruit defenders like Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas, the one-two combo that stopped Oregon in his tracks. Buh definitely has an eye for talent.

Buh would then become a full-time defensive coordinator with Nevada, where he would most notably improve Nevada's defense in quick time in two seasons. Although the Wolfpack were definitely led by Colin Kaepernick, the Nevada defense wasn't too shabby either. They beat Cal, beat Boise, beat almost everyone in winning the WAC his first season, and the defense held their own while the offense transitioned in Buh's second season. Up in Wisconsin as the linebackers coach, his three starting linebackers lead the team in tackles, and the Badgers sported one of the best defenses in the conference.

Buh is also fairly young (don't let his pictures fool you, he's 39, about four years older than Aranda). He has great experience in major conferences. More importantly, he also has a lot of great connections with Southern California recruits that Cal has been targeting (Darius Allensworth, Cameron Walker, and Tyler Foreman come to mind. A switch to Cal could really give the Bears a marquee name to attract big defensive recruits.

Utah State and Wisconsin battled on the field this season in Camp Randall. These two teams can score. The final was 16-14 Badgers.

These seem like two very worthy contenders for the Cal defensive coordinator job. Who would you prefer?