Former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital expected to be named Cal offensive coordinator

Cal kept a big week going, and is expected to announce that former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital would take over for Tony Franklin as Cal's play-caller.

California is expected to name 30-year old Jake Spavital as its next offensive coordinator.

Multiple sources confirmed Spavital's impending hiring to BearTerritory early this week, and Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans was the first to report the news.

Spavital will take over after the departure of longtime Sonny Dykes assistant Tony Franklin, who turns 59 this August. Franklin left to be closer to his family, resigning from his post to take the same position at Middle Tennessee State, on Jan. 22. Spavial has been at Texas A&M since 2013, when he was named co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, after the former holder of that position, Kliff Kingsbury, left to become the head coach at Texas Tech. Spavital started out as the co-offensive coordinator, splitting duties with Clarence McKinney, before taking over as the full-time offensive coordinator for the 2014 season.

Spavital checks off two of the three big boxes Dykes named when speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle -- offensive coordinator/play-calling experience, and coming from the Air Raid/spread coaching tree. 

Following his career at Missouri State as a quarterback and punter, Spavital joined the Tulsa staff as an offensive quality control coach under Gus Malzahn, who ran a spread with a dual-threat quarterback in Cam Newton en route to a national title at Auburn in 2013.

In 2009, Spavital got fully-engrossed in the spread coaching under Kevin Sumlin and Air Raid disciple Dana Holgorsen, and when Holgorsen left to become the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2010, he took Spavital with him as a graduate assistant. Holgorson coached with Dykes at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2006, as the two coached receivers (Holgorsen inside, and Dykes outside) and shared offensive coordinator duties. Spavital helped coach quarterback Brandon Weeden in Holgorsen's offense, and the Cowboys went 11-2 that season, with Weeden ranking third in the nation in yards per game and total yards, as well as sixth in the country in touchdowns.

Spavital followed Holgorsen again to West Virginia for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, coaching future first-round quarterback Geno Smith. Under Spavital's tutelage, Smith was named first-team All-Big East, and the Orange Bowl MVP. Smith set school records for completions (38), attempts (65) and passing yards (463) in the fourth game of the 2011 season against No. 2 LSU. He continued on to set single-season school records for pass completions (291), passing attempts (448) and passing yards (3,741) against Pitt on Nov. 25, and in the Mountaineers Orange Bowl win against Clemson, he tied three individual bowl records with six touchdown passes, seven overall touchdowns and most points scored (42).His 401 passing yards broke the bowl record previously held by Tom Brady.

During his time in College Station, Spavital coached Heisman Trophy-winner and future first-round NFL Draft pick Johnny Manziel, who earned first-team All-SEC honors, named the SEC Male Athlete of the Year, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl offensive MVP, coming in fifth place in the Heisman Trophy voting, completing 300 of 429 passing attempts for 4,114 yards, 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, with 759 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 144 carries.

In his first season as the OC, Spavital's quarterbacks tallied a 69.3% completion percentage, 4,593 passing yars, wth 40 touchdowns to 13 picks.

The next season, the Aggies went 8-5, with quarterbacks completing 64.6% of their passes for 3,971 yards, 39 passing TDs and 15 picks.

A&M averaged 305.5 yards per game through the air, and 149.9 yards per game on the ground. Texas A&M split quarterbacking duties between Kenny Hill, who transferred to TCU for 2015, and Kyle Allen, who Spavital recruited, and who was ranked as the top five quarterback in the nation in 2013.

Following a tumultuous 2015 season in which highly-touted quarterbacks Allen and Kyler Murray (a top-five quarterback who Spavital also recruited) split time, neither completing over 60% of their passes, and posting a combined TD-to-INT ratio of 22 to 14, both Allen and Murray decided to transfer in the span of two weeks. Sumlin, according to reports, was the main culprit, with trust issues percolating between both quarterbacks and the coaching staff. Within two weeks of the two departures, Sumlin and Spavital parted ways in what many have speculated as a sacrificial offering in the wake of the two high-profile transfers.

As for the run game, the Aggies averaged 185 rushing yards per game in 2013 (5.17 ypc). In 2014, without Manziel, that dipped to 150 yards per game, and 4.63 yards per carry.

Things looked back up in 2015, when Texas A&M averaged 169 yards per game on the ground, but at a 4.35 yards per carry clip.

For reference, Cal's offense over the past three years has averaged 122.17 yards per game on the ground in 2013 (3.5 ypc), 149.17 ypg in 2014 (4.1 ypc) and 152.85 ypg (4.5 ypc) last season.

Spavital is a top-notch recruiter, who's brought in out-of-state four- and five-star talent (like Murray and Allen), as well as landing receiver Christian Kirk (one of Luke Rubenzer's high school teammates) out of Arizona.

Spavital made $483,500 in base salary in 2015, and Franklin earned $507,000 this past season. With Dykes's new extension ensuring an extra $500,000 for assistant pay, Spavital is expected to see a raise in pay. With that increase in pay comes yet another quarterback connundrum for Spavital, who will oversee the competition to replace expected first-round NFL Draft pick Jared Goff.

There are four main contenders for the starting gig, including 2015 backup Chase Forrest, who completed 10 of 18 passes with one interception, for a total of 162 yards and one touchdown in three games.

Also in the running is quarterback-turned-safety-turned-quarterback Rubenzer. The junior-to-be was Cal's primary backup in 2014, rushing 52 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and completing 12 of 21 passes for 166 yards and three interceptions with two touchdowns. As a safety last season, Rubenzer tallied 43 tackles and two interceptions.

Also in the mix is freshman Ross Bowers, who came in last spring, and after some early hiccups proved to have a strong and accurate arm in practice. As a senior at Bothell (Wash.), he led his team to a Washington state title, as well as a 14-1 record. Bowers has completed 228-of-335 passes (68.1%) for 3,505 yards with 37 touchdowns and six interceptions to earn first-team All-KingCo honors.

Finally, early-enrollee Max Gilliam will be a dark horse contender. As a junior at Thousand Oaks (Calif.), he threw for 2,920 yards and 29 touchdowns, rushing for 625 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior, Gilliam threw for 3,413 yards on 217-of-294 passing, with 40 touchdowns to just five interceptions for a QB rating of 144.5. He also rushed for 666 yards on 146 carries, with two 100+ yard games and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

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