California athletic director Mike Williams held a press conference in Berkeley today to address the firing of head coach Sonny Dykes. We've got full behind-the-scenes details on our premium message boards, with micro-updates as they happen. He began with his statement from this morning:
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1744270-cal-fires-sonny-dy...This was an extremely difficult decision and one that we take very seriously. There was no rush to judgment; we wanted to be thorough and thoughtful. Ultimately, it was a combination of factors that brought us to this outcome. We are continuously evaluating our program and looking for ways to make it better – whether that's through additional academic support, recruiting, facilities, staffing, culture, leadership or anything else that can help our football program succeed. Primarily, we want what's best for our student-athletes and have a head coach in place who is fully committed to our program and our university.
Coach Dykes clearly built up our program – both on the field and in the classroom – and he leaves Cal in a stronger position than when he arrived. For that alone, he deserves credit and our thanks. After our bowl win last season, we showed our commitment to him with a contract extension. But after looking at a number of factors after the end of this season, I felt that we needed a change of direction for the good of our student-athletes and our program.
I understand that the timing may not be ideal – it rarely is. We did not want to make this decision until we were ready and did so for the health of our football program and department. Our objective is long-term financial sustainability for our department. In order to do this, we understand that investing in football is critical. We believe that this change will reinvigorate the program, stimulate lagging ticket sales and renewals, and energize our donor base.
Football is very important to our department and it is essential that we provide the resources necessary to hire the right head coach and staff. We have invested in our football program and will continue to do so as necessary. Over the past few years, we have also added additional support personnel in virtually every area that touches the program to ensure our student-athletes have what they need to succeed on the field and in the classroom. We want to win championships. The success of our football program is vital to both our department and our university community, and its influence can be felt well beyond Berkeley.
Williams's Q&A with reporters (I took the Truth Machine to Williams's statements inside our premium boards):
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1744196-four-months-for-th... Why did it take five or six weeks from the end of the season to come to this decision: "It didn't take five to six weeks. As we evaluated the program, we wanted to make sure that we were touching every base, and were very thoughtful."
"When it came to the point where I determined that we needed to make that decision, we went ahead and did that."
Did anything change between the end of the season and the decision today: "This wasn't the result of what happened on the football field. But, as we looked and evaluated the program, overall."
Does the Athletic Department's financial situation make this decision any harder? Does it make the search for a replacement harder? "All athletic departments, including Cal's, are at a point where we need to be striving to achieve financial sustainability. We can't do that, at Cal, without a winning football program, to give us the financial resources to go forward. We've invested significantly in football already, with the stadium, and with the Simpson Center. We will continue to make that investment."
Aspects he's looking for in a new head coach: "First and foremost, we want someone who is committed to building a winning football program on the field, and we want somebody who's committed to academic achievement. We want to make sure that our student-athletes have a tremendous experience. We believe all three of those things can be held at the same time. Every other one of our programs at Cal reaches that standard, and we want to do the same thing with football. We also want someone who's communicated to the University long-term, someone who really wants to be at Cal, and really wants to build a winning program here."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1744187-breaking-cal-fires... How much did Dykes's interest in other jobs affect this: "Just part of the overall evaluation. We just want to make sure that we do have a coach who wants to be here. We have brilliant students, brilliant faculty, engaged alums, tremendous donors. We want a football coach who understands that, and wants to be a part of that."
Since it's been a while since the season ended, have you lined up candidates to move faster, than if it were done earlier: "I think it's important that an athletic director has a short list of candidates for any job, at all times. So, we do have a short list of candidates we'll be considering."
Coaches come back soon for recruiting, and players for offseason conditioning. What's the timeline for hiring a new coach: "We would like to have a head coach as soon as possible, but we will be thoughtful and thorough in our search to make sure that we do get the right coach for Cal, for student-athletes, and to build a winning program."
Will Jake Spavital be a candidate for the full-time job: "We're not going to talk about any of the candidates until the end of the process, just to really preserve the integrity of that process. I do think highly of Jake, and Jake has volunteered to be our interim coach, during the search."
http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1744260-cal-qb-co... Financial situation with Dykes's buy-out: "We can't give you specifics on the buy-out now, but as we go through the process, I'm happy to sit down and do that with you."
Players and staff informed: "We have some software that allows for us to contact all of the players, and all of the coaches and staff at the same time. Given that it's break, we've got our people scattered all over the place. So, we wanted to make sure that we could get to them as quickly as possible, but all at the same time, and I think we contacted everyone within 10 minutes of our meeting ending with coach Dykes today."
Was Dykes surprised by the news, as he purported to be in his own message to players? "I'd prefer not to talk about a private meeting."
Financial ramifications, was Dykes fired with or without cause: "Without."
Sonny helped raise the academic profile of the program significantly. What message does it send that he does that, and gets fired: "Again, we're not connecting this in any way to on-field performance. I'm very pleased with what Sonny has done, with the culture of the football program, with the academic performance of our student-athletes. I'm very proud of the fact, and I think Sonny is very proud of the fact, that our single-year APR score was the highest in the conference, and we think that's just the jumping-off point for Cal football. With all of our programs, we have success in the classroom, we have tremendous academic accomplishment, and we win championships. That's the standard for football, also."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1733533-cal-coaching-hot-b... With a month left in the recruiting cycle, is there a plan in place to stabilize the guys who are committed? "Yeah, our coaches have been in touch with the committed recruits today."
In all your years going back to being a student at Cal, what is keeping Cal from reaching the level that other teams in the conference have reached: "That's a tough one, because we're going back 40 years, now. I just got my notice about my 35th reunion. I think that what we need to do as a community is commit to championship football, and I think that might be the one thing that we're lacking. We have the resources. We get the right student-athletes. Again, Cal is a place that produces champions in virtually every other sport. I think if we have that same commitment to football, we can have championship football teams."
Does the administration have a handle on how important football revenues are: "That's purely speculating, but my sense is that, yes, the fact that our financial model is so reliant on football, and the fact that winning football is really essential to making sure that we can deliver on a broad athletic program, and I do get the sense that the administration is aware of that, understands it and embraces it."