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Top Five Candidates For Cal Bears Head Coaching Vacancy

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Top Five Candidates For Cal Bears Head Coaching Vacancy

Cal Bears
James Snook - US PRESSWIRE

The Cal Bears have started their search for the next head coach after parting ways with Jeff Tedford a few weeks ago. After a disappointing 3-9 season (2-7 Pac 12), Cal will be looking for a new leader who can turn the Bears around in a hurry to stay competitive in an ever-improving Pac 12 conference.

Whoever takes the job will have a tall order ahead of them. Tedford is the winningest coach in Cal history and transformed the program over his 11 seasons. While his message eventually became stagnant, which led to his dismissal, Tedford raised the bar of expectations for Cal and will cast a shadow over the position for whoever steps in after him.

That isn’t to say that the job isn’t a good one. The Pac 12 is full of new blood, so there’s still plenty of room for a program like Cal to be a major player. The school has a renovated Memorial Stadium to its credit along with enough resources to keep the program competitive. The Bay Area is filled with high school and junior college talent to recruit and the Los Angeles market is just down the road.

And the cupboard is already stocked with some pretty good players. Freshman quarterback Zach Kline is a promising young arm who was one of the top rated quarterback recruits coming out of high school. The Bears also have a ton of youth who were pushed into action at the wide receiver position, such as freshman Chris Harper, who finished second on the team in receptions behind senior Keenan Allen.

They also have a very talented recruiting class coming in for 2013 already signed up. The Bears have four four-star recruits ready to join the team this summer and make immediate impacts as freshmen. Offensive tackle Cameron Hunt, quarterback Jared Goff, outside linebacker Victor Egu and running back Khalfani Muhammed headline a strong 2013 recruiting class that will help a new coach immensely in his transition.

So who is the early favorite to become the new head coach for Cal? We count down the five most likely candidates.

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Gary Anderson, HC Utah State Aggies

Gary Anderson
Douglas C. Pizac - US PRESSWIRE

Gary Anderson has built a fine program in the WAC with the Utah State Aggies. It took some time to get the program going, but Anderson followed up a seven-win 2011 season that included a bowl appearance with a 10-2 record and a conference championship. It was the first conference title for the Aggies in 76 years.

Anderson specializes in the defensive side of the ball, having previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Utah Utes. His Aggies defense this season has been impressive, ranking eighth in scoring defense, giving up just 15.4 points per game. His offense isn’t too shabby either, as Utah State ranks in the top-30 in total offense led by his offensive coordinator Matt Wells.

The move to Cal would be a step up for Anderson in terms of competition. He has not coached in a BCS conference, as Utah was still a member of the Mountain West Conference while he was DC there. The Aggies have shown they can play with the big programs this season, though, as their only two losses are to the BYU Cougars and Wisconsin Badgers by a combined five points while scoring a victory over Utah 27-20 in overtime.

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Mike MacIntyre, HC San Jose State Spartans

Mike MacIntyre
Kyle Terada - US PRESSWIRE

Another WAC coaching candidate, Mike MacIntyre has engineered possibly the second most impressive coaching job in the Bay Area, behind only David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal, as head coach of the San Jose State Spartans. San Jose State was just 1-12 in his first season, 2010, but MacIntyre has turned this team around with a 10-2 record this year.

MacIntyre has a wealth of experience in both the college ranks and the NFL, acting as a defensive backs coach from 2003 to 2007 with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. He returned to the college ranks in 2008 as the defensive coordinator for the Duke Blue Devils before taking the head coaching job at San Jose State in 2010.

While MacIntyre’s pedigree is on the defensive side of the ball, he’s been able to foster some excellent quarterback play while helming the Spartans. David Fales has been one of the more underrated prolific passers in the country this season, throwing for 3,798 yards and 31 touchdowns while leading the No. 11 rated passing attack in college football.

MacIntyre’s experience in BCS conferences also helps his chances. Spending the last three seasons in the Bay Area and laying a foundation for recruiting in the area also helps. But the biggest reason he might be favored for the Cal job? He nearly pulled off an upset of Stanford to start the season. That’s an accomplishment that Cal fans can really appreciate.

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Tim DeRuyter, HC Fresno State Bulldogs

Tim DeRuyter
Cary Edmondson - US PRESSWIRE

Tim DeRuyter is finishing his first season as a head coach, and first with the Fresno State Bulldogs, but he has been impressive enough that he just might turn this season into a bigger job offer this offseason. DeRuyter has led the Bulldogs to their first nine win season since 2007 with a shot at 10 wins with a bowl win. DeRuyters predecessor and longtime Fresno State head coach Pat Hill won 10 games just once in his 15 seasons.

DeRuyter came to Fresno State after acting as the defensive coordinator for the Texas A&M Aggies for two seasons. In his first season, he transformed the Aggies’ defense, which had ranked 104th in scoring defense the year before DeRuyter’s arrival, into the No. 21 ranked scoring defense in the country. Cal could use DeRuyter’s defensive touch to help turn around the team in a hurry. This season, Cal had the No. 98 rated defense in terms of scoring defense and allowed at least 21 points in 10 of 12 games this season.

While he was in College Station, DeRuyter’s name was commonly brought up as one of the more underrated minds in college football and his immediate success with the Bulldogs is backing up that notion. DeRuyter’s defensive experience in the high scoring Big 12 is a nice bonus and he went 1-1 against the Pac 12 this season while with the Bulldogs.

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Greg Roman, OC San Francisco 49ers

Greg Roman
Kyle Terada - US PRESSWIRE

One of the hotter assistants out there this offseason that is being associated with job openings is Greg Roman, offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. He’s a Jim Harbaugh disciple (which has worked out well for Stanford with David Shaw) and is a known presence in the Bay Area working just down the road from Berkeley.

Roman has plenty of experience in the NFL and had some success as a coordinator in college as well. He spent time on the staffs of the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens from 1995 to 2007 before joining Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He followed Jim to the NFL and has been enjoying some very nice success as the OC for the 49ers. The fact that the offense suddenly looks dynamic with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback only helps his stock.

If Roman were to make the move back to college, Cal would be the ideal landing spot for him. His ties to the area from his time at Stanford along with his connections to the home-town NFL franchise would make recruiting the Bay Area a breeze. The Harbaugh coaching tree is a very popular one to pick from these days, even if it sprouted in the rival soil of Palo Alto.

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Chris Petersen, HC Boise State Broncos

Chris Petersen
Andrew Weber - US PRESSWIRE

If Cal fans and faculty had their choice of coaches, you would be hard pressed to find a more popular candidate than Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos. Yes, he’s connected with just about every open job in college football every single year and he’s always stayed put in Boise, but sources say that Cal is one of two jobs that would tempt him to make a move.

Petersen has built an amazing career in Boise, where he’s been on staff since 2001 and head coach since 2006. Since becoming the lead guy for the Broncos, he’s led them to an astounding 82-8 record with a 4-2 bowl record and a perfect 2-0 in BCS bowls. He’s finished in the AP top 10 four times with four conference championships.

He would be a dream-come-true get for the Bears if they somehow lured him away from the success he’s enjoyed in Boise, but the time could be right. Cal is reportedly one of two jobs that interest Petersen outside of Boise State with the other being the Oregon Ducks, but Cal is the more likely landing spot.

Oregon seems set with Chip Kelly and seems to have an in-house replacement if Kelly departs with offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, which pretty much closes down that possibility for Petersen. Boise State is getting set for a major transition to the Big East (which is looking less and less like an improvement), so Petersen could take this time to consider his options.

At Boise State, Petersen has already established a recruiting base in California and found major success with limited resources. With the Bay Area talent pool at his fingertips and a program with competitive resources, it would be exciting to see what Petersen could do at Cal.