"Yeah, it was pretty much out of the blue," said Gregory. "Any time it's this time of the year –the further away you get from January/December, the less movement there is. But it's all kind of a trickle-down deal. The guy from Washington went to the NFL just a couple weeks ago and obviously the position with Washington opened up.
"That's kind of the coaching business. That kind of thing just happens. It's a good professional thing for him (Williams) and his family. There's never, ever any hard feelings. That's what he thought was best for him and his family. He'll do a great job."
Gregory was faced with a similar decision himself as new Colorado Head Coach Dan Hawkins put on a full court press to lure his old coaching buddy out to Boulder this off-season. What went into his decision process?
"Well, I thought about a ton of things," said Gregory. "Any time something like that comes up, a thousand different things –everything from money to housing to "do I want to move my two little kids?" to starting over (at Colorado) vs. what we have here at Cal. All those things, my wife and I sat down with and we felt that it was best for us to stay here. But, it's never easy –especially when Dan Hawkins and I go way back to Boise State and little Willamette University. We're good friends. I just spoke to him two days ago. So it's tough when it's your friend, also. And Jeff Tedford's a friend so all those things make it hard, but we felt that it was better for us to stay here and for the family. And we're so excited about Cal football and the group of guys we've got coming back is a neat group of kids and I didn't feel like I wanted to leave.
"I think, and I've always said" continued Gregory, "that bigger's not better. Better's better. So whatever's better for your career, for your family and all those things, if the best thing, all things considered, is to go to South Dakota Tech, that's great. If the best thing is to go to the Houston Texans, that's great, too. It's whatever you feel like as an individual is best for you. Going to the NFL is not the end-all, be-all, but not going is not the end-all, be-all either. It all depends on what you're looking for in life and what's best for your family.
"I'm never one of those guys –and Jeff (Tedford) is the same –that's looking for the next job. It's probably that way in every business. Some guys are just looking for the next job. I think it's important to do the greatest job you can, wherever you're at, whatever you do in life and all that other stuff kind of takes care of itself."
So who's taking up the slack coaching the defensive backfield?
"Me," laughed Gregory. "Didn't you see me coaching my butt off out there? I'm an old secondary coach so that was a very easy transition for me. Then, whoever we hire, we'll plug him in there and it will be great."
Commenting on the search for a replacement for Williams and if there's any kind of timeline for bringing in a replacement, Gregory noted:
"Well, we'd like to have it done before the end of spring football. But there's a tendency, if you lose someone late to rush into it and we don't want to do that. We want to be sure and we want to find the right guy and the right fit and if that takes a week or two weeks or three weeks, that's fine. We can handle three weeks of spring football. That's fine."
Many feel that Williams' replacement will play a key role in the Bears future. Williams was a popular coach with a lot of credibility, having played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. Williams was also a successful recruiter who especially excelled in recruiting the talent-rich Central Valley, particularly Fresno, where he grew up playing for Edison High School. Williams continued his Edison legacy by bringing in three consecutive standout defensive backs from his alma mater in safety Bernard Hicks and redshirt frosh Robert Peele, as well as incoming frosh cornerback Charles Amadi.
His presence will be sorely missed. And his replacement will be eagerly awaited –by Bear players and fans alike.