BERKELEY — California football fans won’t have to wait until next year’s season opener to get a good look at new coach Sonny Dykes’ squad.
Dykes said Wednesday all his practices will open to fans and media, starting with the beginning of spring practice the final week in February.
“We don’t have any secrets,” Dykes said. “The thing is, people can watch our film, they can rewind it, fast forward it, make cutups, all that stuff. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want someone to be able to come and watch.”
Dykes’ predecessor, Jeff Tedford, opened a handful of practice to fans during spring ball and fall camp but kept them closed once the season started, except for a 30-minute window at the beginning for media.
Dykes said his wife and two young daughters will often come to practice and he hopes students and fans also show up to watch the team work.
“This is not my program, this is Cal’s program,” he said. “They should be engaged and ought to be able to check it out. It’s their program.”
Dykes also announced that Wisconsin linebackers coach Andy Buh has been hired as defensive coordinator. Buh will join the staff after coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
Buh the previous two seasons as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Nevada and also was co-defensive coordinator during the final two years of his three-year at Stanford from 2007-09. Buh also spent two seasons at Cal from 2000-01 as a defensive administrative assistant.
Dykes called this perhaps his most important hiring because his own expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, meaning Buh will have great autonomy running the defense.
“He kind of fits my personality of what I’m looking for in a defensive coordinator,” Dykes said. “Somebody who is intense and positive. It’s hard to find positive defensive guys. They are usually pessimistic guys.”
Dykes still needs to hire an offensive line coach and three more defensive assistants to round out his staff.
In other news, Dykes said the returning quarterbacks will begin spring ball on an even playing field with hopes that one will stand out above the others within two weeks so the coaches can give the starter more practice time.
Allan Bridgford, who started the final two games last season, and prized recruit Zach Kline, who sat out last season as a redshirt, are expected to be the top contenders.
Dykes said he would like to sign about 26 recruits from this year’s class in addition to two junior college players. He expects five players to enroll in school early and participate in spring ball. Dykes said Cal has not lost any commitments yet since the coaching change.
Dykes said he has watched every run, pass or reception from every offensive player last season, as well as tape of the final four games of a 3-9 campaign. Some of his initial impressions are the offensive line is better than he expected, he plans to incorporate some of the returning tight ends in his offense after not using them much at Louisiana Tech and the defense is athletic.
“That’s the thing as a head coach,” he said. “You hear things and some of them are right and some of them are wrong.”
Dykes also said he would like to see easier non-conference opponents in future years as long as the Pac-12 keeps playing nine conference games. Cal opens the 2013 season with home games against Northwestern, Portland State and Ohio State to go along with the regular conference schedule.
“The nine conference games makes it really important to schedule smart,” he said. “Most schools are playing a directional whatever and we’re playing USC. I think that puts you at a competitive disadvantage in some ways as far as winning games and getting to bowl games. So that’s tough. The Pac-12 has always prided itself on playing competitive out of conference games. Great for fans, good for athletic directors but not always great for coaches.”