California Golden Bears football

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California Golden Bears football
2015 California Golden Bears football team
University of California, Berkeley athletic logo.svg
First season 1886
Head coach Sonny Dykes
3rd year, 12–23 (.343)
Home stadium California Memorial Stadium
Year built 1923, renovated in 2011–12
Stadium capacity 63,000[1]
Stadium surface Momentum Turf
Location Berkeley, CA
Conference Pacific-12
Division North
All-time record 651–521–51 (.553)
Postseason bowl record 10–10–1 (.500)
Claimed national titles 5[2][3]
Conference titles 14
Division titles 0
Consensus All-Americans 27[4]
Current uniform
Cal goldenbears unif13.png

Berkeley Blue and California Gold

Fight song Fight for California
Mascot Oski
Marching band University of California Marching Band
Rival Stanford Cardinal
UCLA Bruins
USC Trojans
Oregon Ducks

The California Golden Bears Football team is the college football team of the University of California, Berkeley. The team plays its home games at California Memorial Stadium. Memorial Stadium was built to honor Berkeley alumni, students, and other Californians who died in World War I and modeled after the Colosseum in Rome. Memorial Stadium was named one of the 40 best college football stadiums by the Sporting News.[5][6] The team also has produced two of the oddest and most memorable plays in college football: Roy "Wrong Way" Riegels' fumble recovery and run toward the California goal line in the 1929 Rose Bowl, and The Play in the 1982 Big Game with the last play five lateral winning kickoff return.[7][8] The current head coach is Sonny Dykes, who began his tenure at California on December 5, 2012.[9]


Football was first played on the Berkeley campus in 1882, albeit in a form that resembled rugby. It was not until 1886 that American football began play. It played its first annual rivalry game - known as The Big Game - against Stanford University in 1892. This became one of oldest College rivalry games in the United States. Football was put on hiatus in 1906 when it was decided by the Theodore Roosevelt administration that American football was too dangerous a sport and rugby once again took over the scene. Football returned for good in 1915 and Cal has fielded a team in every year since.

The 1930 Big Game at Memorial Stadium

1920s and 30s: The Wonders and The Thunder[edit]

The 1920s saw the first golden age of California football, as the Golden Bears went 50 straight games without a defeat from 1920 to 1925, with a record of 46 wins and 4 ties. As of 2010, this is the third-longest unbeaten (not to be confused with winning) streak in NCAA history. The 1920–1924 squads were so dominant that they were nicknamed "The Wonder Teams", and were coached by Andy Smith. He is considered to be the greatest football coach in Golden Bears' history.[10] He is famous for his defense-oriented strategy of "kick and wait for the breaks".[10] Dying in 1925 with his University of California 10-year record of 74 wins, 16 losses and 7 ties, Smith remained Cal's most winning coach until he got surpassed by Jeff Tedford in 2011.[11][12] During his time California won three NCAA recognized national titles,[13] four Pacific Coast Conference championships and made three trips to the Rose Bowl. In 1921 it shutout Ohio State 28-0. In 1922 and while swimming in mud, it tied the huge underdog Washington & Jefferson College Presidents 0-0, for the sole tie in Rose Bowl history. One of the stars of this era was Harold "Brick" Muller. A month before the start of the 1920 season he won the Silver Medal in high jump at the Summer Olympics in Belgium, while that winter at the 1921 Rose Bowl win over Ohio State, he threw a touchdown, caught two passes and made several vital tackles. He also recovered three fumbles.[14] In 1960 the respected Helms Athletic Foundation crowned the 1920 Cal Bears as the greatest football team in American history.[15]

1922 "BRICK MULLER about to assassinate a couple of presidents"

Andy Smith died at at the end of the end of the 1925. His death was unexpected and traumatic for the team and the whole university. His replacement was his assistant coach Nibs Price. Price was first hired as a freshman coach in 1918. He recruited the dominant 1919 freshmen team that would become the core of the Wonder Team for the next three years. In their first season without Smith, Cal had its first losing season since 1897.[16] But by 1928, the team that was undefeated with six shutouts was invited to the Rose Bowl to play against Georgia Tech. While this team is considered to be one of the greats in Cal history,[17] it is also remembered for what happened during its game at the Rose Bowl. It has become the most famous (or infamous) moment in Rose Bowl history.[8] In the second quarter, California's defense forced a Georgia Tech fumble on their own 30-yard line, and the loose ball was scooped up by California center Roy Riegels. He began to run towards the Georgia Tech end zone for a score, but then, in trying to get around the Tech players, he inexplicably turned around and headed in the other direction. Riegels advanced all the way to the Golden Bears' one-yard line before teammate Benny Lom was able to stop him, whereupon he was immediately tackled by what seemed like the entire Georgia Tech team. California elected to punt on the next play; the punt was blocked for a safety, giving the Yellow Jackets a 2–0 lead and what turned out to be the decisive points.[18] Two years later was Nibs last season of coaching football. In 1926 when he became the head coach, Nibs was already the coach of the Golden Bears basketball team. He remained the basketball coach for another 13 years and led the team to the final four in 1946.[16]

California football also achieved success in the 1930s; led by coach Stub Ellison, it won the PCC championship three times and appeared in the 1938 Rose Bowl. The team was led by the team captain and future member of the College Football Hall of Fame Vic Bottari, who scored two touchdowns with California defeating Alabama, 13–0. Because of its staunch defense, the 1937 squad that went to the Rose Bowl was coined "The Thunder Team."[19] In 11 games, California had 7 shutouts and limited all of its remaining opponents to only 33 points. There were 5 touchdowns, 42 completions, 60 first downs, 432 passing yards, 858 rushing yards and 1,126 total yards gained against it. All of those are school records that still stand.[20] The ESPN College Football Encyclopedia considered them to be better than the 1920 Wonder Team, ranking them as the best in school history.[17] The 1938 Rose Bowl was the last one won by the Golden Bears.[21]

1940s and 50s: Pappy's Boys[edit]

The 1947 season saw a dramatic turnaround as Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf became the head coach. The 1946 Bears only won 2 games while losing 7, upon Pappy's arrival they went to 9-1, their only loss was to USC.[22] Known as "Pappy's Boys," the California teams of 1947–1950 won 33 consecutive regular season games, earning three PCC championships and three Rose Bowl berths.[23] However California lost all three Rose Bowls: 20–14 to Northwestern in 1949, 17–14 to Ohio State in 1950, and 14–6 to Michigan in 1951. Because of both Cal's return to greatness and Pappy's great character - even after the losses, Pappy become admired by both his players and his fans. One of the things that he became known for was him addressing the fans after every home game from an outside balcony of the Memorial stadium.[22]

In 1953 the NCAA changed the game by canceling a rule that was in place since World War Two, a team could no longer make multiple substitutions and have specific players for each position, only one substitution could be made per play.[22] Up to this change Pappy's approach was to use highly specialized players for key positions, which no longer became possible after the change. With the rule was withdrawn Cal went from 7-3 to 4-4-2. The team did not have a winning season after 1953 and Pappy retired at the end of the 1956 season when Cal went 3-7.[22] During the late 50's NCAA kept changing its rules and by 1964 it again allowed unlimited substitutions.[24]

One of the star players during Pappy's years was Jackie Jensen. He played from 1947 to 1948, was an all american and the first Cal player to rush past 1000 yards. He was also a pitcher and a center fielder for the baseball team, was an all american twice and led the team to win the inaugural college world series in 1947. He left his junior year to play baseball and in 1958 was the American League's Most Valuable Player as an outfielder.[25][26]

Pete Elliott became Cal's head coach the following year. He won only one game in 1957 and two games in 1959. However, in between those two years - the 1958 season, California went 6-1 in the PCC, taking first place and earning a spot in the 1959 Rose Bowl. Unfortunately it lost that game to Iowa 38 to 12. One of the highlights of those years was Joe Kapp, who is considered to be one of greatest players in Cal history.[27][28] Aside from his skills as a quarterback, he is also remembered for his character. Completely dedicated to his team and his university, he was able to push his teammates to perform beyond their limits as well as to fiercely intimidate his opponents. Because there were no other stand out players on the 1958 team it is his fierce determination that is considered to be the reason for Cal playing in the 1959 Rose Bowl.[29] It was for this ability to transfer his passion and determination that he was offered and accepted the California head coaching job in 1982.[29] It should also be noted that during the years in between when he played for the Minnesota Vikings he equaled the most touchdowns in the game record of seven and lead the team to win the 1969 season's Super Bowl.[30] He declined the Viking's most valuable player of the year award because it was the team and not him that deserved it.[29]

1961 - sad Oski

The 1960s, a decade of political change and football underperformance[edit]

Marv Levy became the head coach in 1960 along with Bill Walsh as his assistant they were at Cal until 1963. Although each would go on to become future NFL hall of famers, Levy for his coaching with the Buffalo Bills and four straight Super Bowl appearances and Walsh for his three Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers, they could not produce a single winning season at Cal[31] Ray Willsey took over the program in 1964. A Cal alumni, he played under Pappy Waldorf, leading the team as a quarterback in the 1952 season's 26 to 0 win over Stanford. In the 1960's during his years as the coach, Berkeley became a center of counterculture and political protest. This led to significant problems with recruiting - Willsey had to try and commit the recruits while the Berkeley protests and police crackdowns were a regular part of the nightly news.[32]

Willsey, his staff and the athletes were finally able to overcome this in 1968, that year's team would come to be known as "The Bear Minimum." It was let by Ed White an All-American and future member of College Hall of Fame, relying on its defense Cal went 7-3-1 and ranking as high as 8th in the AP poll. It won 21-7 at Michigan and beat #10 Syracuse 43-0. Earning three shutouts it held its opponents to 10.4 points a game.[33] The Bear Minimum still holds Cal's records for opponents' average gains per play - 3.60, as well as the fewest rushing touchdowns per season - 5 (same as the Thunder Team). It's average yards per rush was 2.51 which is still second only to the 1937 Thunder Team with 2.50 yards per rush.[20] The other positive stand out of this otherwise unfortunate decade was Craig Morton, who was an all american that held multiple Cal records including for most career passing yards and touchdown passes. His touchdown record of 36 lasted for the next 24 years.[20] He was picked 5th in the 1965 draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He was with them for the next ten years, helping them win the Super Bowl VI in 1971.

A rise in the 1970s but another fall in the 1980s[edit]

The 1968 season led to the Golden Bears' turnaround in the 1970s. Wilsey left in 1972 finishing with Cal tying for 2nd and 3rd in the PCC in his last two years. His overall record was 40–42–1. In 1972, Mike White was hired. After two losing seasons, he brought home three winning seasons over the next four. In 1975, behind an NCAA leading offense anchored by All Americans Chuck Muncie, Joe Roth, Wesley Walker, Steve Rivera, and Ted Albrecht, the Golden Bears were co-Champions of the Pacific-8 Conference, but UCLA went to the Rose Bowl based on their head-to-head victory. Steve Bartkowski ('75) was another noted player who started for the Atlanta Falcons at quarterback. However, White left after a disappointing 1977 season when the Bears finished 8–3 but a disappointing 5th in the division with a 4–3 record. Roger Theder succeeded him and led the Bears to three winning seasons, but each was less successful than its predecessor. In 1979, California played in the Garden State Bowl, losing to Temple 28–17 after a 6–5 regular season.

"Oh, the band is out on the field! He is gonna go into the end zone!!"

The 1980s saw a return to mediocrity, with California posting only one winning season in the entire decade. Joe Kapp was the most famous coach in this period. Kapp had been the quarterback of the 1959 Rose Bowl team, and later led the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl. Even so, he was not able to overcome the recruiting drag created by the off-field notoriety of the Berkeley campus. Of note, however, was the 1982 Big Game versus Stanford, which became famous for The Play. After Stanford had taken the lead on a field goal with four seconds left, the Golden Bears used five lateral passes on the ensuing kickoff return to score the winning touchdown and turn defeat into a 25–20 victory. The Play has been named by numerous media organizations as one of the best football, and even American sports, moments.[34]

1990s: A brief return of football success[edit]

Bruce Snyder arrived at Berkeley in 1987, and gradually turned the program around. He was able to recruit a number of outstanding players, such as Russell White, away from football powers such as USC and UCLA. The reemergence of California football as a thriving program was signaled by the October 19, 1991 game against the future national co-champion Washington Huskies. California lost 24–17 at home in a game that came down to the Bears' last possession deep in Husky territory and was probably the Huskies most difficult game that season. (The Oakland Fire erupted in the hills south of California Memorial Stadium the day after this game.)Golden Bears football had some success in the early 1990s, earning three postseason bowl berths and winning all three. California beat Wyoming 17–15 in the Copper Bowl of 1990, Clemson 37–13 in the 1992 Citrus Bowl and Iowa 37–3 in the 1993 Alamo Bowl. Snyder resigned before 1992 bowl game to take a position at Pac-10 rival Arizona State. The Golden Bears attempted to steal some of the Huskies' magic by hiring away assistant Keith Gilbertson, but he delivered only one winning season in the next four.

After the loss of momentum, California hired Green Bay Packers assistant Steve Mariucci for the 1996 season. He led the Bears to a winning regular season (losing to Navy in the Aloha Bowl 42–38), but the San Francisco 49ers struck yet again (as with Waldorf) and hired away Mariucci as head coach for 1997, ending the promise of an early California revival. The rest of the late 1990s saw little success, and the down period reached its nadir in 2001 when the Bears managed only one victory the entire season. The win came in the final game of the season in New Jersey against Rutgers, which was a re-scheduled game due to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Much-maligned coach Tom Holmoe resigned in November of this season and was replaced with Jeff Tedford, previously the offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks. Worse yet, California lost seven straight games to archrival Stanford.

Tedford Era[edit]

California began a renaissance under Jeff Tedford, who dramatically turned around the long-suffering program. Under Tedford the Golden Bears posted eight consecutive winning seasons, a feat that had not been accomplished since the days of Pappy Waldorf.[35] After being ruled ineligible for a bowl game in 2002 due to academic infractions under the previous administration, the Bears also appeared in seven straight bowl games.

The Jeff Tedford era began with a bang, as California defeated Baylor 70–22, and went on to finish 7–5, their first winning season since 1993. The 2002 team defeated three nationally ranked opponents on the road for the first time in school history including California's first win over conference foe Washington in 26 years, and won the annual Big Game against archrival Stanford for the first time in eight years.

In 2003 the Golden Bears posted an 8–6 record, highlighted by a dramatic 34–31 triple-overtime victory over No. 3 ranked and eventual national co-champion USC. This victory revived a long moribund rivalry with the Trojans, even as the Trojans reemerged as a national power under Pete Carroll. In the Insight Bowl, the Golden Bears edged Virginia Tech 52–49 on a last-second field goal.

2004 Bowl Championship Series controversy[edit]

2004 Big Game

In 2004, the Bears posted a 10–2 record under Tedford and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with their only regular season loss coming against the eventual national champion, USC. California finished the regular season ranked No. 4 according to polls, and appeared to have an excellent chance to receive an at-large BCS bowl berth, most likely in the Rose Bowl. Under normal circumstances, the Bears, as Pac-10 runner-up, would have had first crack at a Rose Bowl berth since conference champion USC was playing for the national championship.

The Bears entered their final game of the regular season ranked No. 4 in BCS standings and a 24-point favorite over Southern Miss. They won 26–16 in a closer than-expected game.[36] With 13 seconds left in the game and California with the ball at the Southern Miss 22-yard line, Tedford elected to run out the clock instead of attempting to increase the margin of victory to possibly impress some voters.[37] Leading up to the game, Tedford said he had no interest to run up the score.[38]

In a controversial case, the Texas coach Mack Brown made impassioned pleas to media asking poll voters reconsider their final votes.[39] Several Associated Press (AP) voters were besieged by fan emails and phone calls attempting to sway their votes, apparently spurred from Brown's pleas to rank Texas ahead of other "less deserving teams."[40][41] Nine of the 65 AP voters switched Texas ahead of California, and three of them were from Texas.[42] In the Coaches Poll, four voters moved Cal down to No. 7 and two to No. 8, when the week before none had them lower than No. 6. Meanwhile, two coaches moved Texas up to No. 3 when the team did not play that week.[43][44] The Los Angeles Times wrote that accusations were raised about coaches manipulated voting, but the individual coaches votes were not released to prove or disprove the allegations.[45] The AP Poll makes its voters' records public.[46] No. 6 Texas gained 23 points on No. 4 California in the AP poll, and the fifth-ranked Longhorns closed 43 points on the fourth-ranked Bears in the coaches poll. That allowed Texas to earn a BCS berth, finishing .0129 points ahead of California in the BCS standings after being .0013 points behind.[42] The Longhorns went on to beat Michigan 38–37 in the Rose Bowl, while California was upset by No. 21 Texas Tech 45–31 in the Holiday Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 9. In part because of the controversy with California's BCS ranking, the AP poll withdrew from the BCS after the season.[40]


The next year saw inconsistent quarterback play and an overall inexperienced roster. Nate Longshore, who was chosen to succeed Aaron Rodgers, who had left for the NFL, sustained a season-ending injury in the season's first game against Sacramento State. He was succeeded by junior transfer Joe Ayoob, who started nine games and went 5–4. Third string quarterback Steve Levy replaced Ayoob as the starter for the Big Game, leading the Bears to victory. California finished 8–4 and earned a berth in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl, beating BYU 35–28.


Big Game at California 2006. Cal fans rush the field.

In 2006, California went on to post a 10–3 (7–2 in Pac-10) record. Despite falling to the Tennessee Volunteers in their first game of the season in Knoxville, the team rebounded, winning eight straight games, including impressive victories over the 20th ranked Arizona State and the 11th ranked Oregon at home. Two losses followed with a November 11, upset 24–20 by Arizona and a 23–9 defeat by USC, which cost California its Rose Bowl bid.

In the final game of the regular season on December 2, California defeated Stanford 26–17 in the 109th Big Game for the fifth straight time. Coupled with UCLA's upset of reigning conference champion USC on the same day, the victory earned California its first share of the Pac-10 championship since 1975.[47] The Golden Bears accepted an invitation to the 2006 Holiday Bowl, its second appearance there in three years. Cal routed Texas A&M 45–10, the largest margin of victory for a bowl game in the 2006–2007 season, and finished with a No. 14 ranking, an improvement from the No. 20 spot that it started with at the beginning of the season.


California began the 2007 season ranked 12th in both the AP/USA Today Polls. In a nationally televised game on September 1, the Golden Bears defeated Tennessee 45–31. The Bears rose in the polls following subsequent victories against Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, and Arizona. California's defeat of then No. 11 Oregon in Eugene 31–24, combined with a series of losses from Oklahoma, Florida, and West Virginia, allowed the Bears to break into the top five. California had a bye the following week, but as a result of Stanford's surprise upset of then No. 2 USC on October 6, the Bears were ranked No. 2 in the country in the AP, Coaches, and Harris polls behind No. 1 LSU. This was the highest the team had been ranked since 1951.[48]

With the Kentucky upset of LSU on October 13, the Bears had a shot at being the number one team in the nation along with Ohio State, but an upset loss to unranked Oregon State that same night dashed any hopes of a top ranking. The loss marked the beginning of a reversal in the second half of the season which saw the Bears winning only one game out of the next six and dropping out of the Top 25 entirely. The Bears lost to Washington for the first time in five years and to Stanford on the 25th anniversary of The Play, which resulted in the Cardinal regaining The Stanford Axe for the first time in six years under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh. California accepted an invitation to the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force on December 31, where post a 42–36 victory to end the season 7–6. Before the season even ended, Tedford declared there would be open competition for all positions on the team in 2008 and reevaluate every aspect of California's football program.[49][50] Tedford made several coaching changes, most notably relinquishing offensive coordinator duties and hiring Frank Cignetti to playcall and take over quarterback coaching duties.[51]


The Bear's 2008 campaign was marked with diminished expectations, as all of California's offensive stars at their skill positions (DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, Robert Jordan, Justin Forsett and Craig Stevens) graduated or declared for the NFL Draft. Thus the Bears started the season unranked for the first time since 2003.[52] Their 2008 season would confirm this ranking, as they would finish the season undefeated at home but would only win one game on the road. The Bears won their opening game at home against Michigan State 38–31 and eviscerated Washington State in Pullman 66–3, but fell to Maryland 35–27 in College Park. The Bears won two straight home games against Colorado State and Arizona State but fell in the desert to Arizona. Although the Bears still controlled their destiny in the Pac-10 after two more home wins against UCLA and Oregon, two close losses to Pac-10 champion contenders USC and Oregon State on the road put an end to those hopes. Cal reclaimed the Axe by beating Stanford 37–16 in the 111th Big Game and kept Washington's season winless with a 48–7 victory. Cal finished the regular season 8–4 as Tedford claimed his seventh consecutive winning season for the Golden Bears and third unbeaten home record in five years. The Bears accepted an invitation to take on the Miami Hurricanes at the 2008 Emerald Bowl, which they won 24–17.


Cal began the 2009 season with early wins over Maryland, Eastern Washington, and Minnesota. However the team struggled with consistency, losing to Oregon and USC, then rebounding to defeat UCLA, Washington State, and Arizona State. Following a loss to Oregon State, Cal managed to upset Pac-10 title contender Arizona. Cal also upset Stanford in the Big Game. The season however ended on a low note with consecutive losses to Washington to end the regular season and Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl. The loss to Utah snapped a four bowl game winning streak going back to 2004. The Bears also did not produce a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 2002. The end of the season saw some coaching changes. Cal hired Jeff Genyk as special teams coach to replace the fired Pete Alamar, and Clancy Pendergast as defensive coordinator to replace Bob Gregory, who departed for Boise State.


Tedford surpassed the legendary Pappy Waldorf to become the Cal head coach with the 3rd most career victories when the Bears blew out UC Davis 52–3 in the season opener.[53] Despite early successes however, the team had an inconsistent season. After starting senior quarterback Kevin Riley sustained a season-ending knee injury in a loss to Oregon State, Cal had only one win in the final four games, edging out Washington State for the team's sole road victory. The Oregonian reported Wednesday that "a source within the Bears football program confirmed that [faking injuries] was 'a big part' of the defensive game plan against Oregon." [54] The Bears finished the season on a three-game losing streak, getting edged out 15–13 by #1 Oregon, losing the Stanford Axe to archrival #8 Stanford in a 48–14 blowout, and sustaining a last second defeat by Washington. The team finished 5–7, Tedford's first losing season and the team's first losing season since 2001,[55] failing to become bowl-eligible for the first time during Tedford's tenure as head coach. California was ranked only once during the season with a No. 24 spot in the Coaches' Poll. One bright spot for the season was running back Shane Vereen going over the 1,000 rushing yard mark, as he finished with 1,167 yards.

Final years[edit]

During the massive reconstruction of California Memorial Stadium, California played their home games in AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.[56] The season opener against Fresno State, officially a neutral-site game, was played at Candlestick Park.[57]

During this season, and following the team's first losing season during Tedford's tenure as head coach, the Golden Bears improved to 7–5 (4–5 in the Pac-12) to finish fourth in the North Division. On September 17, 2011 Cal beat Presbyterian College making Tedford the winningest football coach in Cal history.[11] Cal also became bowl-eligible again and accepted a bid to play Texas in the Holiday Bowl, while the Longhorns and Golden Bears have not met since 1970 in Austin, there was recent history invoking the two teams because of the 2004 Rose Bowl controversy.[58] Cal lost the 2011 Holiday Bowl 21-10.

Memorial Stadium reopened in 2012 after its $321 million renovation, but Cal had another losing season with a 3–9 record—only 2–5 at home. They lost to Stanford for the third straight season. Cal finished the final two games of the season with the worst losses of Tedford's career——a 59–17 home loss to Oregon followed by a 62–14 road loss against Oregon State. A few days after the final game of the season, Tedford was fired as head coach, but was owed $6.9 million over the remaining three years of his contract. In his final three seasons, he was 15–22, including 9–18 in conference games and 0–3 vs. Stanford. Since the loss of the 2007 game to Oregon State, Tedford was 34–37.[59]

At the same time, in a letter to donors and season tickets holders, the University athletic director Sandy Barbour called a "great concern" that the current 48 percent graduation of Cal football players was the lowest rate in the Pac-12. In the letter she stated that the athletes' continuing decline in academic performance and the need to establish a new starting point for the necessary changes was one of the reasons for the termination.[60]

Tedford left the Bears with the most bowl wins (5), conference wins (50), and games coached (139) in the school's history. He also tied Pappy Waldorf for most Big Game wins (7) against Stanford. During his tenure, California produced 40 players drafted by the NFL, including eight first-round picks.[61]

New coach: Sonny Dykes[edit]

On December 5, 2012 Sonny Dykes was announced as the new head coach of California Football.[62] Sonny Dykes was recruited from Louisiana Tech and is known for his offensive mind.[63] In his first season, Dykes finished with a 1–11 record. He became the first head of coach of the Golden Bears since the University began playing football in 1886 to fail to defeat a single D-1 opponent in a season that has lasted at least five games.[64] In 2014, Dykes second season, the Bears experienced an improvement going 5-7.

Along with the new coaching staff, the athletic department began implementing a new program to deal with the significant problems with academic performance of Cal's revenue sports athletes.[65] Beginning in 2015 the program would require an incremental rise in applying athletes' Grade Point Average. By 2017-2018 at least 80 percent of incoming athletes would be required to have a high school GPA of at least 3.0, the university's general admission standard. Except for Stanford, this would be the strictest requirement in the Pac-12.[66]

As of 31 October 2015, the Bears have a 5-3 record with three consecutive losses.[67] They have fallen out of the top 25 after being ranked 20 prior to the UCLA game.[68]

Season-by-season records[edit]

Year Coach Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Andy Smith (1916–1925)
1916 Andy Smith 6–4–1 0–3–0 4th
1917 Andy Smith 5–5–1 2–1–0 2nd
1918 Andy Smith 7–2–0 2–0–0 1st
1919 Andy Smith 6–2–1 2–2–0 T-3rd
1920 Andy Smith 9–0–0 3–0–0 1st W Rose Bowl
1921 Andy Smith 9–0–1 4–0–0 1st T Rose Bowl
1922 Andy Smith 9–0–0 4–0–0 1st
1923 Andy Smith 9–0–1 5–0–0 1st
1924 Andy Smith 8–0–2 2–0–2 2nd
1925 Andy Smith 6–3–0 2–2–0 5th
Andy Smith: 74–16–7 26–8–2
Nibs Price (1926–1930)
1926 Nibs Price 3–6–0 0–5–0 9th
1927 Nibs Price 7–3–0 2–3–0 T-5th
1928 Nibs Price 6–2–2 3–0–2 2nd L Rose Bowl
1929 Nibs Price 7–1–1 4–1–0 T-3rd
1930 Nibs Price 4–5–0 1–4–0 T-8th
Nibs Price: 27–17–3 10–13–2
Bill Ingram (1931–1934)
1931 Bill Ingram 8–2–0 4–1–0 2nd
1932 Bill Ingram 7–3–2 2–2–1 T-5th
1933 Bill Ingram 6–3–2 2–2–2 6th
1934 Bill Ingram 6–6–0 3–2–0 5th
Bill Ingram: 27–14–4 11–7–3
Stub Allison (1935–1944)
1935 Stub Allison 9–1–0 4–1–0 T-1st
1936 Stub Allison 6–5–0 4–3–0 4th
1937 Stub Allison 10–0–1 6–0–1 1st W Rose Bowl 2
1938 Stub Allison 10–1–0 6–1–0 T-1st 14
1939 Stub Allison 3–7–0 2–5–0 8th
1940 Stub Allison 4–6–0 3–4–0 6th
1941 Stub Allison 4–5–0 3–4–0 7th
1942 Stub Allison 5–5–0 3–4–0 7th
1943 Stub Allison 4–6–0 2–2–0 2nd
1944 Stub Allison 3–6–1 1–3–1 4th
Stub Allison: 58–42–2 34–27–2
Buck Shaw (1945)
1945 Buck Shaw 4–5–1 1–3–1 6th
Buck Shaw: 4–5–1 1–3–1
Frank Wickhorst (1946)
1946 Frank Wickhorst 2–7–0 2–4–1 9th
Frank Wickhorst: 2–7–0 2–4–1
Pappy Waldorf (1947–1956)
1947 Pappy Waldorf 9–1–0 5–1–0 T-2nd 15
1948 Pappy Waldorf 10–1–0 6–0–0 T-1st L Rose Bowl 4
1949 Pappy Waldorf 10–1–0 7–0–0 1st L Rose Bowl 3
1950 Pappy Waldorf 9–1–1 5–0–1 1st L Rose Bowl 4 5
1951 Pappy Waldorf 8–2–0 5–2–0 3rd 12
1952 Pappy Waldorf 7–3–0 3–3–0 4th
1953 Pappy Waldorf 4–4–2 2–2–2 4th
1954 Pappy Waldorf 5–5–0 4–3–0 4th
1955 Pappy Waldorf 2–7–1 1–5–1 T-7th
1956 Pappy Waldorf 3–7–0 2–5–0 8th
Pappy Waldorf: 67–32–4 40–21–4
Pete Elliott (1957–1959)
1957 Pete Elliott 1–9–0 1–6–0 T-7th
1958 Pete Elliott 7–4–0 6–1–0 1st L Rose Bowl 16
1959 Pete Elliott 2–8–0 1–3–0 4th
Pete Elliott: 10–21–1 8–10–0
Marv Levy (1960–1963)
1960 Marv Levy 2–7–1 1–3–0 4th
1961 Marv Levy 1–8–1 1–3–0 T-4th
1962 Marv Levy 1–9–0 0–4–0 6th
1963 Marv Levy 4–5–1 1–3–0 5th
Marv Levy: 8–29–3 3–13–0
Ray Willsey (1964–1971)
1964 Ray Willsey 3–7–0 0–4–0 8th
1965 Ray Willsey 5–5–0 2–3–0 T-5th
1966 Ray Willsey 3–7–0 2–3–0 5th
1967 Ray Willsey 5–5–0 2–3–0 6th
1968 Ray Willsey 7–3–1 2–2–1 4th
1969 Ray Willsey 5–5–0 2–4–0 6th
1970 Ray Willsey 6–5–0 4–3–0 T-2nd
1971 Ray Willsey 6–5–0 4–3–0 T-3rd
Ray Willsey: 40–42–1 18–25–1
Mike White (1972–1977)
1972 Mike White 3–8–0 3–4–0 5th
1973 Mike White 4–7–0 2–5–0 T-5th
1974 Mike White 7–3–1 4–2–1 T-3rd
1975 Mike White 8–3–0 6–1–0 T-1st 15 14
1976 Mike White 5–6–0 3–4–0 T-4th
1977 Mike White 8–3–0* 4–3–0* 4th
Mike White: 35–30–1 21–19–1
Roger Theder (1978–1981)
1978 Roger Theder 6–5–0 3–4–0 T-6th
1979 Roger Theder 7–5–0** 6–3–0** 5th L Garden State
1980 Roger Theder 3–8–0 3–5–0 9th
1981 Roger Theder 2–9–0 2–6–0 8th
Roger Theder: 18–27–0 14–18–0
Joe Kapp (1982–1986)
1982 Joe Kapp 7–4–0 4–4–0 6th
1983 Joe Kapp 5–5–1 3–4–1 8th
1984 Joe Kapp 2–9–0 1–8–0 10th
1985 Joe Kapp 4–7–0 2–7–0 10th
1986 Joe Kapp 2–9–0 2–7–0 9th
Joe Kapp: 20–34–1 12–30–1
Bruce Snyder (1987–1991)
1987 Bruce Snyder 3–6–2 2–3–2 8th
1988 Bruce Snyder 5–5–1 1–5–1 10th
1989 Bruce Snyder 4–7–0 2–6–0 10th
1990 Bruce Snyder 7–4–1 4–3–1 4th W Copper
1991 Bruce Snyder 10–2–0 6–2–0 T-2nd W Citrus 7 8
Bruce Snyder: 29–24–4 15–19–4
Keith Gilbertson (1992–1995)
1992 Keith Gilbertson 4–7–0 2–6–0 9th
1993 Keith Gilbertson 9–4–0 4–4–0 T-4th W Alamo 24 25
1994 Keith Gilbertson 4–7–0 3–5–0 T-5th
1995 Keith Gilbertson 3–8–0 2–6–0 T-8th
Keith Gilbertson: 20–26–0 11–21–0
Steve Mariucci (1996)
1996 Steve Mariucci 6–6 3–5 T-5th L Aloha
Steve Mariucci: 6–6 3–5
Tom Holmoe (1997–2001)
1997 Tom Holmoe 3–8 2–6 9th
1998 Tom Holmoe 5–6 3–5 7th
1999 Tom Holmoe 0–11*** 0–8*** T-6th
2000 Tom Holmoe 3–8 2–6 T-8th
2001 Tom Holmoe 1–10 0–8 10th
Tom Holmoe: 12–43 7–32
Jeff Tedford (2002–2012)
2002 Jeff Tedford 7–5 4–4 T-4th
2003 Jeff Tedford 8–6 5–3 T-3rd W Insight
2004 Jeff Tedford 10–2 7–1 2nd L Holiday 9 9
2005 Jeff Tedford 8–4 4–4 T-4th W Las Vegas 25 25
2006 Jeff Tedford 10–3 7–2 T-1st W Holiday 14 14
2007 Jeff Tedford 7–6 3–6 T-7th W Armed Forces
2008 Jeff Tedford 9–4 6–3 4th W Emerald 25
2009 Jeff Tedford 8–5 5–4 T-5th L Poinsettia
2010 Jeff Tedford 5–7 3–6 8th
2011 Jeff Tedford 7–6 4–5 4th (North) L Holiday
2012 Jeff Tedford 3–9 2–7 5th (North)
Jeff Tedford: 82–57 50–45
Sonny Dykes (2013–present)
2013 Sonny Dykes 1–11 0–9 6th (North)
2014 Sonny Dykes 5–7 3–6 4th (North)
2015 Sonny Dykes 6–5 3–5 4th (North)
Sonny Dykes: 12–23 6–20
Total: 651–521–51
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
*Includes UCLA forfeit
**Includes Oregon forfeit
***Cal finished 4–7 (3–5 in conference) in 1999, but later forfeited the victories due to ineligible players

National championships[edit]

The NCAA's website states that "the NCAA does not conduct a national championship in Division I-A football and is not involved in the selection process." It goes on to say that "a number of polling organizations provide a final ranking of Division I-A football teams at the end of each season." California recognizes 5 national championships as recognized by other major polling entities.[69]

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl Result
1920 Andy Smith Billingsley, Football Research, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation 9–0 Rose Bowl Cal 28, Ohio St. 0
1921 Andy Smith Boand, Football Research 9–0–1 Rose Bowl Cal 0, Washington & Jefferson 0
1922 Andy Smith Houlgate, National Championship Foundation 9–0
1923 Andy Smith Houlgate 9–0–1
1937 Stub Allison Dunkel, Helms 10–0–1 Rose Bowl Cal 13, Alabama 0
Total national championships: 5



California's main rival is Stanford. The two schools participate in the Big Game every year, with the winner taking home the Stanford Axe. Stanford leads the series record at 59–46–11 (wins–losses–ties).


California has an active rivalry with UCLA. The schools are the two largest public universities in the state of California and both have been part of the same conference for many years. UCLA maintains a winning record in the series, which has gone 51–32–1.


California has an active rivalry with USC. USC currently leads the series 67-30-5. The Golden Bears have not beaten USC since 2003.


The Golden Bears have a recent rivalry with Oregon. The rivalry gained intensity in the late 2000s when Oregon upset high ranked California en route to becoming a national power. Overall, the Bears leads the series 40-36-2, with Oregon winning the last 6 meetings.

Coaching history[edit]

No. Coach Tenure Seasons Win Loss Tie Pct. Bowls
1 O. S. Howard 1886 1 6 2 1 .722 0
1.5 No coach 1887–92 5 18 4 0 .818 0
2 Thomas McClung 1892 1 2 1 1 .625 0
3 W. W. Heffelfinger 1893 1 5 1 1 .786 0
4 Charles O. Gill 1894 1 0 1 2 .333 0
5 Frank Butterworth 1895–96 2 9 3 3 .700 0
6 Charles P. Nott 1897 1 0 3 2 .200 0
7 Garrett Cochran 1898–99 2 15 1 3 .868 0
8 Addison Kelly 1900 1 4 2 1 .643 0
9 Frank Simpson 1901 1 9 0 1 .950 0
10 James Whipple 1902–03 2 14 1 2 .882 0
11 James Hopper 1904 1 6 1 1 .813 0
12 J. W. Knibbs 1905 1 4 1 2 .714 0
14* James Schaeffer 1915 1 8 5 0 .615 0
15 Andy Smith 1916–25 10 74 16 7 .799 2
16 Nibs Price 1926–30 5 27 17 3 .606 1
17 Bill Ingram 1931–34 4 27 14 4 .644 0
18 Stub Allison 1935–44 10 58 42 2 .578 1
19 Buck Shaw 1945 1 4 5 1 .450 0
20 Frank Wickhorst 1946 1 2 7 0 .222 0
21 Pappy Waldorf 1947–56 10 67 32 4 .650 3
22 Pete Elliott 1957–59 3 10 21 0 .323 1
23 Marv Levy 1960–63 4 8 29 3 .238 0
24 Ray Willsey 1964–71 8 40 42 1 .488 0
25 Mike White 1972–77 6 35 30 1 .538 0
26 Roger Theder 1978–81 4 18 27 0 .400 1
27 Joe Kapp 1982–86 5 20 34 1 .373 0
28 Bruce Snyder 1987–91 5 29 24 4 .544 2
29 Keith Gilbertson 1992–95 4 20 26 0 .435 1
30 Steve Mariucci 1996 1 6 6 0 .500 1
31 Tom Holmoe 1997–2001 5 12 43 0 .218 0
32 Jeff Tedford 2002–12 11 82 57 0 .590 8
33 Sonny Dykes 2013–Present 2 6 18 0 .250 0
   Totals   1886–present   120  645  516  51 .555  21

* From 1906 to 1914, rugby was played instead of football. Cal's 13th coach was Oscar Taylor from 1906–08. Cal's 14th coach, James Schaeffer, coached rugby from 1909–14 and football in 1915.

Bowl history[edit]

Season Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
1920 Rose W Ohio State 28 0
1921 Rose T Washington & Jefferson 0 0
1928 Rose L Georgia Tech 7 8
1937 Rose W Alabama 13 0
1948 Rose L Northwestern 14 20
1949 Rose L Ohio State 14 17
1950 Rose L Michigan 6 14
1958 Rose L Iowa 12 38
1979 Garden State L Temple 17 28
1990 Copper W Wyoming 17 15
1991 Citrus W Clemson 37 13
1992 Alamo W Iowa 37 3
1996 Aloha L Navy 38 42
2003 Insight W Virginia Tech 52 49
2004 Holiday L Texas Tech 31 45
2005 Las Vegas W BYU 35 28
2006 Holiday W Texas A&M 45 10
2007 Armed Forces W Air Force 42 36
2008 Emerald W Miami 24 17
2009 Poinsettia L Utah 27 37
2011 Holiday L Texas 10 21
Total 21 Bowl Games 10–10–1 506 441

Cal's All-Century Football Team[edit]

chosen by Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, CA, November 18, 1999

  • QB: Steve Bartkowski (1972–74) Edges another NFL first-round pick in Craig Morton (Cowboys). Consensus All-American in 1974 was first player taken in NFL draft, by Atlanta.
  • RB: Chuck Muncie (1973–75) Gained 1,460 yards rushing in 1975, leading Cal to 8–3 record and share of Pac-8 title with UCLA. Rushed for 100 yards or more 15 times in career.
  • RB: Russell White (1990–92) Bears' career rushing leader with 3,367 yards only Cal player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in three straight seasons.
  • TE: Tony Gonzalez (1994–96) First-round pick of Kansas City Chiefs in 1997 also played three years of basketball at Cal.
  • WR: Sean Dawkins (1990–92) Cal's all-time leader with 14 receiving touchdowns in 1992 was first-round pick by Indianapolis Colts.
  • WR: Wesley Walker (1973–76) Had eight catches for 289 yards against San Jose State in 1976.
  • OL: Todd Steussie (1990–93) Two-time All-Pac-10 tackle was first-round choice of Minnesota Vikings in 1994.
  • OL: Dan McMillan (1920–21) Bears were 18–0–1 during McMillan's two years as an offensive tackle, including a 127–0 demolishing of St. Mary's on October 9, 1920.
  • OL: Rod Franz (1946–49) Guard was only three-time All-American in Cal history and helped Bears post unbeaten regular seasons (10–0) in 1948 and '49.
  • OL: Les Richter (1949–51) Consensus All-America guard in 1950 and '51 was just as good at linebacker.
  • OL: Bob Herwig (1935–37) Offensive center was narrow choice over fellow Cal Hall of Famer member Babe Horrell. Also played basketball for the Bears.
  • PK: Doug Brien (1991–93) Bears' all-time leading scorer (288 points) secured job by beating Arizona, UCLA with fourth-quarter field goals on back-to-back weeks in 1991.


  • DL: Brick Muller (1920–22) Two-time All-American led ferocious defense and threw 50-yard touchdown pass in 28–0 win over Ohio State on January 1, 1921, Cal's first Rose Bowl win.
  • DL: Stan Barnes (1918–21) Another Wonder Team member gets narrow nod over Pittsburg High School's Regan Upshaw.
  • DL: Ed White (1966–68) One of best NFL offensive linemen ever was four-time Pro Bowler and played in four Super Bowls with Vikings.
  • DL: Sherman White (1969–71) Did not play in high school football, but was all-conference pick in 1970 and '71, and was first-round pick of Cincinnati Bengals in 1972.
  • LB: Ron Rivera (1980–83) Consensus All-American in 1983 holds Cal single-season records for tackles for loss (26.5) and sacks (13).
  • LB: Sekou Sanyika (1996–1999) Hercules resident is Cal's all-time leader in tackles for loss, played two years for the Arizona Cardinals.
  • LB: Matt Hazeltine (1951–54) Two-time All-American played with 49ers from 1955–68.
  • DB: Carl Van Heuit (1949–50) Gifted athlete averaged 11.1 yards per punt return while helping Cal go to back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1950 and '51. Was All-American in 1950.
  • DB: Ken Wiedemann (1967–69) School's all-time interception leader with 16.
  • DB: Deltha O'Neal (1996–[1999]) Four interceptions returned for touchdowns this season set NCAA record.
  • DB: Jackie Jensen (1946–48) First Cal player in history to rush for more than 100 yards in a game. Had five carries for 109 yards in 47–14 rout of Washington State on November 2, 1946.
  • P: Nick Harris (1997–[2000]) Averaging 42.6 yards per punt despite many pooches. Sure NFL player.
  • UTL: Walter Gordon (1916–18) Could play any position on the field better than anyone else.


  • Andy Smith (1916–25) Never had losing season while going 74–16–7 in 10 seasons at Cal. Record included 7–0–1 mark against USC and 6–1–1 ledger in Big Game. Beat USC 12–0 on October 28, 1922, in first game played at the Rose Bowl.

Current NFL players[edit]

Player Position NFL Team NFL Year
Alexander, LorenzoLorenzo Alexander Linebacker Oakland Raiders 2005
Allen, KeenanKeenan Allen Wide Receiver San Diego Chargers 2013
Alualu, TysonTyson Alualu Defensive Tackle Jacksonville Jaguars 2010
Anderson, C.J.C. J. Anderson Running Back Denver Broncos 2013
Anger, BryanBryan Anger Punter Jacksonville Jaguars 2012
Bishop, DesmondDesmond Bishop Linebacker San Francisco 49ers 2007
Conte, ChrisChris Conte Safety Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2011
Forsett, JustinJustin Forsett Running Back Baltimore Ravens 2008
Harper, ChrisChris Harper Wide Receiver New England Patriots 2015
Jackson, DeSeanDeSean Jackson Wide Receiver Washington Redskins 2008
Jones, MarvinMarvin Jones Wide Receiver Cincinnati Bengals 2012
Jordan, CameronCameron Jordan Defensive End New Orleans Saints 2011
Kendricks, MychalMychal Kendricks Linebacker Philadelphia Eagles 2012
Ladouceur, L.P.L.P. Ladouceur Long snapper Dallas Cowboys 2005
Lynch, MarshawnMarshawn Lynch Running Back Seattle Seahawks 2007
Mack, AlexAlex Mack Center Cleveland Browns 2009
McCain, Chris Chris McCain Linebacker Miami Dolphins 2014
Mebane, BrandonBrandon Mebane Defensive Tackle Seattle Seahawks 2007
Mohamed, MikeMike Mohamed Linebacker Houston Texans 2011
Rodgers, AaronAaron Rodgers Quarterback Green Bay Packers 2005
Rodgers, RichardRichard Rodgers Tight End Green Bay Packers 2014
Schwartz, MitchellMitchell Schwartz Offensive Tackle Cleveland Browns 2012
Schwenke, BrianBrian Schwenke Center Tennessee Titans 2013
Stevens, CraigCraig Stevens Tight End Tennessee Titans 2008
Sundberg, NickNick Sundberg Long snapper Washington Redskins 2009
Ta'ufo'ou, WillWill Ta'ufo'ou Fullback Jacksonville Jaguars 2009
Vereen, ShaneShane Vereen Running Back New York Giants 2011
Williams, SteveSteve Williams Cornerback San Diego Chargers 2013

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2023
vs South Dakota at North Carolina vs. North Carolina vs. UC Davis vs. TCU
at San Diego State vs Weber State at BYU vs San Jose State vs Cal Poly at TCU
vs Texas vs Ole Miss vs Idaho State at Ole Miss at Auburn vs Auburn at San Jose State



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External links[edit]