Ryan Gorcey / Scout.com

Cal confirms that defensive coordinator Art Kaufman will not return in 2017

California has announced that defensive coordinator Art Kaufman will not return for a fourth year in Berkeley, after replacing the departing Andy Buh after the 2013 season.

California has announced that defensive coordinator Art Kaufman will not return in 2017, according to a release on Thursday morning.

Cal, under Kaufman this season, was 127th in the nation in rushing yards per game (272.9) and 128th in rushing yards per carry (6.16). The Bears were 127th in scoring defense (42.6 points per game), 82nd in passing yards allowed per game (245.4), 107th in passing efficiency defense (145.84), 105th in team sacks (18) and 125th in total defense, giving up 518.3 yards per game. Cal's 67 offensive touchdowns allowed were the most in the nation.

Kaufman's rushing defense was ranked 44th in the country in yards-per-carry in 2014 (3.98 ypc), but only went downhill, falling to 95th (4.83) in 2015, and then last in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season. Kaufman's passing defense this past season, despite losing a multitude of safeties, was his best in Berkeley. The unit was ranked last in the FBS in 2014, to 92nd in 2015, to 86th this past season.

"We thank Art for the progress he was able to help our program make, but we have decided that we need to go in a different direction and find new leadership at defensive coordinator," head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. "We wish him the best in his future coaching endeavors."

For comparison's sake, the Bears' 2013 defense -- widely considered the worst defense in the history of college football, and a defense which cost Andy Buh his job -- allowed 188.6 yards rushing on defense per game (88th in the nation), ranked 118th in defensive passer efficiency (165.44), 122nd in scoring defense (45.9 ppg), 122nd in total defense (529.6 yards per game) and 123rd in passing yards allowed (341). That team gave up 72 offensive touchdowns -- 122nd out of 123 FBS teams.

A Cal spokesman was not able to comment on whether Kaufman was terminated, retired, terminated the contract himself, or terminated the contract mutually with the University.

"I thank Sonny Dykes for the opportunity to serve as the defensive coordinator at Cal for the past three seasons," Kaufman said in a statement. "It was an honor and a pleasure."

Kaufman, originally signed a two-year contract for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and then signed an extension on June 14, 2016 (six weeks after his original contract expired). Under that contract, Kaufman is still employed through April 30, 2018, earns $250,000 annually in base salary per year, and a $340,000 annual talent fee. The contract has performance bonuses -- $25k for being a top-25 defense based on average points allowed per game during the regular season, and other bowl-specific escalators -- and a "Termination by Mutual Agreement" clause, which is present in all standard coaching contracts for Cal.

The termination by mutual termination clause reserves the right for all parties, upon mutual written agreement, to terminate the contract "without cause at any time." If the University decided to terminate Kaufman "without cause," at this point, Cal would owe Kaufman $365,000. That's a marked departure from the contract signed with Kaufman's predecessor, Buh. Buh was paid a total of $500k per year, and when he was demoted from defensive coordinator after just one season of a three-year contract, and then pushed out, Cal was set to pay him the entire value of the remainder of the contract, less the salary he received at his next job (under a "duty to mitigate damages" clause). Buh made $200k as an outside linebackers coach for the 2015 season at Kentucky, in what would have been the final year of his Cal contract.

It is not clear what will happen with the defensive assistants -- Fred Tate, Greg Burns and John Lovett -- all of whom are under contract until April 30, 2017. 

Kaufman's biggest weakness at Cal has been his recruiting. Kaufman's former boss at Cincinnati, Tommy Tuberville, told the Cincinnati Inquirer on Jan. 4, 2014, that his firing of Kaufman was "more about recruiting," and during his time in Berkeley, Kaufman -- who specialized in coaching linebackers -- had landed four linebacker commits. After last season, the Bears learned that they would be losing two linebackers -- Hardy Nickerson and Michael Barton -- to graduate transfer, one to injury retirement (Jake Kearney) and one elected not to pursue a sixth year (Nathan Broussard). He brought in one high school signee -- Cameron Goode -- and one JuCo signee, in Jordan Kunaszyk, while converting a safety (Derron Brown) to an outside linebacker. Goode redshirted, and Brown was sidelined with a broken hand.

Contract talks with a potential replacement broke down recently, so the search will begin anew for Kaufman's replacement. Early in the offseason, former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter's name was mentioned by sources as a possible successor. DeRuyter was unceremoniously dumped as the Bulldogs head coach after a 1-7 start to the 2016 season, following a 3-9 campaign in 2015. Before becoming head coach at Fresno State in 2012 (going 20-6 in his first two seasons, before going 10-24 in his final three), he served as defensive coordinator at Texas A&MAir ForceNevadaOhio and Navy. Another name that's emerged is Ron English, defensive coordinator at nearby San Jose State, and a former Bears safety from 1987-90.

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