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Better Know a 2017 Opponent: UC Berkeley

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New coach, same problems

NCAA Football: UCLA at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Last one! Let’s do this!

LAST YEAR

Look, I’ll be honest with you all up front: UCLA was so bad by the end of last year that I didn’t even pay attention to the last game against Berkeley last year; I had already switched to the basketball grind and just assumed we’d lost. That said, I’m also going to assume the shock of beating UCLA was too much for Sonny Dykes, and that’s why he tried applying for every other coaching job under the sun despite only have 1 winning season while as the Bears’ head coach. Congratulations on recognizing an abusive relationship and getting out of it, Berkeley!

Of course, you also waited until January to fire Dykes because you were able to save some money by doing so, which brings us to...

THE FANS (AND THE SCHOOL)

Good lord Berkeley what are you even doing here?

Memorial Stadium is a very nice stadium, but you also built it on top of a fault line, and decided the best course of action was to take on a hilarious level of debt to try and earthquake-proof it. You did this at the same time your football program entered into a tailspin, and Cal fans decided to do anything but spend thousands of dollars on season tickets. The Athletic Director who got you into this boondoggle, Sandy Barbour, up and left in 2014 to take over at Penn State, and the person who took over for her, Mike Williams, announced he will be leaving the job later this year. With all the financial problems going on at Berkeley, I’m not sure why anyone would choose to take this job, because it seems almost impossible.

Now, to be fair to Mike Williams, he did do some things right. Hiring Justin Wilcox (after taking forever to fire Sonny Dykes) was a pretty good move, all things considered. Williams also signed a new apparel deal with Under Armour valued at $86 million over 10 years that should help a bit with that debt issue. Though, if you’re looking at that number and said to yourself “gee, that looks kinda small”, you’re not alone; UCLA ended up signing a $280 million deal with Under Armour barely a month after UC Berkeley signed theirs. Either the UCLA brand is just 200 million dollars stronger than UC Berkeley, or Dan Guerrero is actually a genius negotiator. You decide which is funnier.

By the way, the school is not Cal. It’s UC Berkeley. You’re not special because you were the first UC. In fact, I think I could just file a trademark to make, like, UC Davis the new Cal, using block letters instead of script, and you couldn’t do anything about it. Because you have no money.

THE COACHES

Well look, it’s Steve Sarkesian’s best defensive friend, Justin Wilcox. Last year, Wilcox surprised everyone by doing a good job of coaching the Wisconsin defense. Of course, the Bruins are no stranger to Wilcox; the last time we saw him, he was exposing Noel Mazzone (something of a theme for teams with talent).

He’s not the only fun name on this all-new Berkeley coaching staff. Tim DeRuyter is here, fresh off getting fired from Fresno State for being a bad head coach (so bad that the Bulldogs hired Jeff Tedford to replace him, because why not?). Old friend Marques Tuiasosopo is also here as the Bears passing game coordinator and QB coach, and after last year, I’m starting to understand why he didn’t stick around at UCLA the first time. Oh, and new OC Beau Baldwin was the head coach at Eastern Washington last year. That’s something!

THE PLAYERS

Uhhhhh, I’m not sure who is even left on this team.

Gone are the days of Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Jackson. Hell, gone are the days of Jared Goff. The Bears lost their starting QB, running back, #1 wide receiver, and five linemen. The offense still has some names, but boy this could be rough.

Meanwhile, the defense is moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and that kind of change ALWAYS goes well. Especially when your defensive line is already undersized. The fact that UCLA only managed 10 points last year against this defense basically sealed the deal on Kennedy Polamalu’s ouster.

FEARLESS PREDICTION

UCLA scores more than 10 points this year.