DAY 11: Sins of the Past

With Cal's quarterbacking past quite literally staring him in the face this week, Sonny Dykes vows to handle the quarterbacks of the future differently.

BERKELEY -- Three words can characterize the final season of Jeff Tedford's tenure at California: "We didn't know."

That's what Bryce Treggs told BearTerritory in Culver City, Calif., just over two weeks ago, about the receivers being told who the starting quarterback would be for the 2012 opener against Nevada.

Instead of academically-dubious Zach Maynard, Tedford started Allan Bridgford. Bridgford went 2-for-9, and the Bears fell, 31-24, in the first game back at renovated Memorial Stadium.

Linebacker Nick Forbes -- who was in street clothes on Friday as he continues to deal with back issues – said at Pac-12 Media Day at Sony Pictures Studios that the biggest difference between the former staff and this one was "transparency."

"The open practices, we love having people out there watching us practice. The fans get closer to us and we get closer to the fans," Forbes said. "All of the staff is very knowledgeable about football, but they're also humble enough to know what things are right and what things are wrong. They know differences […] this is what it should be […] right from wrong."

This fall, the starting quarterback -- Jared Goff -- was named after 25 practices (including spring), all of them open to the fans and the media, in their entirety. There was no secrecy, no cloistered conclave. The body of work was out there for all to see.

Head coach Sonny Dykes – for as much as he has changed the culture of the program – is very much aware of its most recent past. Appropriately enough, on Thursday, former Cal quarterback Kevin Riley was in attendance for his first practice as a spectator. Now a medical supply salesman in San Francisco, Riley observed the controlled chaos and said, simply, "It's different."

Riley said that as he stood beyond the north end zone – the same patch of turf where his and Tedford's fates violently converged, as the then-No. 2 Bears were poised to take over the No. 1 overall spot in 2007, only for Riley to make a rookie mistake in the waning seconds against Oregon State. Nearly six years ago, Tedford hurled his headset to the ground as Riley – instead of throwing the ball away – came up five yards short of the end zone in a frantic scramble.

After that game, Tedford force-fed Nate Longshore the rest of the season, as the junior quarterback literally and figuratively limped to the finish on an ankle being torn up from the inside by bone fragments. The next season, Riley and Longshore each started, sometimes even splitting games. Neither was able to find a rhythm, and Riley's once-promising confidence and bravado were shattered. Knowing Riley's past as a recruit – as a mobile pro-style quarterback – it's hard not to think of what he could have been in a system like the Bear Raid.

Dykes, in explaining how Cal will move forward with the quarterbacks, not-so-subtly alluded to the sins of the past, and vowed not to do anything to wreck the future of his young starter.

"We're going to always make decisions on what gives us the best chance to win. If we feel like, at some point, he doesn't, then we'll sit down and reevaluate everything and make the decision that gives us the best chance, but the thing you don't want to do with a young quarterback is destroy their confidence by yanking him in and out, playing him every other series – all the stuff you guys have seen before," Dykes said.

That doesn't mean, however, that if Goff struggles more than the staff expects, there won't be some reconsideration, particularly with Zach Kline in the wings. However, it seems as though the staff is more than willing to have its quarterback and its team go through the maturation process together.

"We've said this from Day One: There's going to be some growing pains with this football team; not just with the quarterback, but with everybody," Dykes said. "We're the second-youngest football team in the country, so you're going to have growing pains. We expect to be successful, and we expect to win football games, so we know that's going to be part of the process, but we can deal with that."

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