Cal head coach Sonny Dykes shares negotiation strategy with quarterback signee Max Gilliam, clarifies coaching carousel rumors

California quarterback signee Max Gilliam came away with a new understanding about the Sonny Dykes courtship drama after his in-home visit this week, as well as his CIF Southern Section Northern Division Final against vaunted Camarillo.

One of three early enrollees -- soon to be four -- quarterback Max Gilliam got a visit from California head coach Sonny Dykes earlier this week, and had a long talk with the Bears skipper about his future. Dykes was very candid with his quarterback commit during the two-hour dinner visit.

"When I saw it, I was a little bit worried, but he told me he might be talking to some other schools, so I kind of knew that was going to happen," Gilliams said. "I"m not too worried. I think it'll all end up working out."

Gilliam and his father came away from the in-home convinced, and with a new angle on Dykes's courtship by other major programs.

"My dad's checking up on things all the time, even when he's at work, so he had a lot of questions for Dykes, but neither me nor my dad are really too worried," Gilliam said.

Hearing reports that Dykes had "moved on" from Cal, and that he was essentially a "free agent," Gilliam made his own determination as to the veracity of those rumors after the visit.

"He just told me about all the good experiences he's had with Cal, and that's always where he wanted to coach," Gilliams said. "He'd come on vacations here when he wasn't coaching here. I saw a tweet saying he was unhappy at Cal, and that Cal's not really where he wants to be, that's what made me tweet that. I really don't know too much. I'd love to know more." That jibes with what BearTerritory has heard in the past about Dykes's differences with the athletic department on his contract extension, though several sources have told BearTerritory that the negotiations are still ongoing, even after an offer had been put on the table.

Just as with Jared Goff before him, and Zach Kline (who will return to Berkeley this spring to complete his degree, but will not be a part of the football program, he told BearTerritory) before him, Gilliam knows that, as the quarterback, it's his job to help keep the recruiting class together.

"I think it's really important, in the group message and stuff, when everyone's kind of freaking out about all the reports of what Dykes is out doing," Gilliam said. "Cal's where I want to go, so I'm doing everything I can right now to keep everyone together, and I don't see anyone flipping. There's nobody who's that coach to decommitting, as long as Dykes doesn't leave. I think, once he does come back, I think everything will be fine."

Contingency Plans

Of course, the possibility does exist that Dykes does depart for another program. In that case, Gilliam is prepared. First off, he's signed a financial aid agreement as an early enrollee, which is more flexible than a National Letter of Intent, in that it allows an out for the student-athlete.

"I think a lot of it depends on the coach they bring in, because obviously the academic side of it is great, and there's nowhere else I'd rather be, based on academic stuff," Gilliam said. "The depth chart sets up really good for me, so a coaching change wouldn't change either one of those. If there is a coaching change, as long as it doesn't change the offense, I still don't think I would leave."

As long as Cal isn't running the Wing-T, Gilliam is a Bear, and Cal is getting one of the most prolific offensive weapons in Ventura County history. This season, he's 192-for-262 passing, for 3,145 yards, 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He's run the ball 130 times for 721 yards and 10 touchdowns, with two 100+ yard games.

Lancers and Scorpions Meet for Title

Gilliam's Thousand Oaks (Calif.) Lancers are 11-2, and are heading into a CIF Southern Section Northern Division Final date with Camarillo, a rematch of an Oct. 30 Scorpions win, to the tune of 49-45 at James Ackerman Stadium.

Camarillo comes in undefeated, at 13-0, and the second bout with the Lancers will once again take place on the northern side of the Conejo Grade, at Ackerman Stadium. Last week, the Scorpions didn't have starting quarterback Jake Constantine, who was suspended for the semifinal due to two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Santa Maria (Calif.) St. Joseph's. They still easily cruised to a win. This time out, another closely-contested shootout is expected.

"Obviously, it's going to be a big game," Gilliam said. "They're a good team. I think this game's going to come down to whoever makes fewer mistakes. Everybody's going to make big plays. They're going to make big plays on offense, and there are things that they're going to do that we just can't stop, just because they're a good football team. There are also things we can do that they just can't stop, also."

In that previous meeting, Gilliam went 17-for-20 passing for 335 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and carried the ball 29 times for 138 yards and one touchdown. Constantine was 9 of 37 for 358 yards and three touchdowns.

"They won on their last possession, and we got the ball with 30 seconds left, but we couldn't drive it down," Gilliam recalled. "

Gilliam will face a defense similar to what Goff faced in the regular season finale at Memorial Stadium, in that the Scorpions will bring a lot of pressure, much like Arizona State brought a heavy blitz.

"They love to bring a lot of pressure, and that's pretty much what they'll do," Gilliam said. "Even if it's not working, they'll still continue to do it. That can make things tough, but it seems like we've got some good answers to it."

The similarity to what Goff faced last week is not lost on Gilliam.

"I know ASU's D-coordinator just loves to blitz, and he's even said that they're going to live and die by their blitz, and that's kind of how Camarillo is, too," Gilliam said.

The Oxnard Union High School District has requisitioned 1,000 additional seats for the Thousand Oaks visitors bleachers to counter Camarillo's massive home side seating expansion, which effectively tripled the home-side seating capacity when it was installed six years ago.

Gilliam has his official visit scheduled for next weekend, but Thousand Oaks may wind up in one of the state Bowl games.

"If it ends up being on a Friday, I'll still come up for my official visit that next weekend, but if it's a bowl game that's on a Saturday, I'll have to reschedule for some other time, but I'm not really sure when that would be," Gilliam said. 

He'll have to make it quick, as Gilliam's first day of class at Berkeley is Jan. 19. Top Stories