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Cal players and athletic director Mike Williams talk around the Sonny Dykes drama on Armed Forces Bowl press circuit

Rigsbee, Goff, McClure dance around questions about Sonny Dykes's future, while athletic director Mike Williams talks contract extension negotiations ...

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In all the talk on Sunday of California's selection to the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl for a 2007 rematch with Air Force, Bears head coach Sonny Dykes was conspicuous by his absence.

Instead of being on the local media conference call, the Bears trotted out senior safety Stefan McClure and senior right guard Jordan Rigsbee.

When Cal got onto the conference call run by bowl organizers, it was quarterback Jared Goff -- who could very well be playing his final game for the Bears in the Dec. 29 bowl game -- and athletic director Mike Williams, who began the procedings by making sure the elephant in the room remained just behind the skinny lamp in the corner.

"I just wanted to mention a couple of things about coach Dykes and his contract negotiations. I just want to let everyone know that we are still in the process of negotiating an extension with coach Dykes," Williams began. "He is our football coach. We want him to continue on in that capacity. Out of respect for the bowl, and what it is what we're doing, I do want to leave it at that. Right now, I want to talk about the bowl opportunity, the match-up with Air Force, and the 2015 Cal football team."

After Dykes's meeting with his staff on Friday morning -- following all recruiting coaches being called in off the road -- he met with his team before their first bowl practice, which was not open to the media, following his early-week interview with Missouri, and his later reported flirtations with Virginia and South Carolina. "He talked to the team a couple of days ago, but that's between us and him, and I just want to talk about the bowl game right now," said Goff. "He's done a great job with us. He kind of got here the same time as I did, so we've been on this journey together, and it's been a lot of fun. He's a great guy, a great coach -- easy to talk to, fun to talk to, talks to you about anything; not just football. He's fun to play for. He's a guy you want to win for. If you guys saw the video after the game, with his dance in the locker room, stuff like that, that's his personality, and it's what makes him a fun coach."

Rigsbee, when asked about Dykes addressing the job search, said, "I think that's something that's in-house with our team, and I don't think I'm going to talk about that today."

Dykes was not available, Williams said, to talk on the teleconferences, (one at 2:30 p.m., another at 5:05) because he was "traveling today, on his way to New York, for the National Football Foundation celebration on Tuesday night, and meetings around that particular event." 

Williams did, however, talk with Dykes about the bowl, and relayed his thoughts.

"I was with Sonny today, and we talked about all the opportunities for our kids in Fort Worth," Williams said. "We have a lot of kids from Texas on the team, and he thinks it's going to be a truly great experience.

"We're on a great upward trajectory. Last year we had five wins, this year seven wins, and we're really excited about the chance to go for our eighth win. It is our first winning season since 2011, and it's our first bowl game since 2011."

Those thoughts were echoed in an interview BearTerritory conducted earlier in the week with donor Paul White, brother of NFL star and Pac-12 All-Century Team member Ed White.

"I think there’s definitely been progress with the program," said White of Dykes's tenure in Berkeley. "I think Sonny, in my opinion, deserves a raise for doing the good things he’s done. Regarding the academic thing – certainly, Sonny was a key part of that, but the athletic administration and the University also stepped up with a lot of resources, as I understand it: tutoring and things like that – but you can give him credit for that. More importantly, what really pleases me about Sonny is the cultural change that’s happened, in terms of the types of student-athletes, and their ability to communicate. They’re personable, intelligent, articulate young men." Speaking of articulate, McClure, the fifth-year senior, was quite adept at dancing around the questions about his head coach.

"Really, all of our reaction, and all of our chatter has been about what bowl game are we going to go to, and we're so excited for the opportunity to play another game," he said. "We get to hang out, go to a bowl game, practice and play for something. That's really been all the chatter, and how excited we are now that we know what bowl we're going to, and we know who we're playing.

"Mainly, we've just been focusing on the bowl game, getting better, getting healthy. Taking a couple of days off has really helped us. We've had a couple team meetings, but they've all gone well, and we're jsut focused on this next game that we have, and guys reallyl preparing for it."

Asked if he'd want Dykes around for the forseable future -- which McClure will not be a part of, presumably, unless he returns as a graduate assistant -- he said, "right now, I haven't really thought about the forseable future. All I've thought about is getting this win for this group of guys, and what it means to us. Any time you don't have to have change, it's good. I know how hard it was when we had to change coaches. Any time you can have continuity, that's really good. It's really been a family atmosphere, so if you can keep a family together, that's the best way to go."

The offer given by Cal to Dykes has been characterized as a "modest" raise by one source, but by another as one that will move him well into the middle of the Pac-12 in terms of coaching compensation. His $2 million salary is currently at the bottom of schools required to divulge coaching salary information.

Williams offered no timetable for when the extension would be worked out.

"No time table," he said. "I've answered the questions I'm going to answer on Sonny's contract. I want to focus on the bowl and the 2015 Bears." Top Stories