In all likelihood, the Cal football team is going to get smacked around Saturday night at Autzen. Given how explosive Oregon’s offense has looked through the first third of the season and how much Cal’s defense has looked like it spends pregame pounding massive amounts of benzos, it would be shocking to see the Ducks put up anything less than 50.
But it’s still going to be fun to watch. And in that regard, Sonny Dykes’ first three games at Cal have shown that he’s going to have success here.
In his final seasons at Cal, Jeff Tedford saw the quality of his football product rapidly decrease. But more importantly, he also saw the entertainment value of what he put on the field get reduced to zero. Watching Cal football was no longer fun but instead felt like a task fans were obligated to do.
Watching Brock Mansion and Zach Maynard fumble their way through pro-style offenses felt like watching a drunk person trying to feed a key into a keyhole in that you knew the person was going to fail before he even started. And yet Cal fans were forced to sit and stare at the impending train wreck, lying to themselves that maybe one day watching this will be fun again.
More so than for any other purpose, college football exists to provide entertainment. And during Tedford’s final years, Cal football wasn’t able to serve its fundamental purpose.
Enter Sonny Dykes, who seems to have a firmer understanding than his predecessor of one universal aspect of life: College kids are idiots who do incredibly stupid things and make incredibly stupid decisions. I made better decisions when I was 14 than I do as a 21-year-old.
So does Dykes try to stick 11 college-age kids into a complex pro-style offense with a multitude of moving parts — each accompanied by an opportunity to sabotage the entire operation with a single misstep? No, he employs his version of the spread offense and makes things so simple and easy that a middle school Pop Warner team could execute them.
No seven-step drops. No complex read progressions. No double moves. No pulling lineman. Just simple, straightforward, one-cut football.
Through its first three games, Cal is averaging more than 33 points per game and has a true freshman quarterback who leads the nation in passing yards per game. The team is just 1-2, the same mark it held after three games in 2012. But ask yourself: Which stretch of games was more enjoyable to watch?
The Bears may not win many more games in 2013. But they’re still going to be fun to watch, thanks to a functional offense that is going to light up some scoreboards around the Pac-12. Even if he can’t deliver double-digit-win seasons and Rose Bowl berths, if Dykes can just keep Cal watchable, he’ll be a success.
Some questions linger over the play of Cal’s defense. These concerns are not helped by Dykes’ defensive track record — illustrated by a Louisiana Tech team that fielded the worst statistical defense in football last year.
But if I have to choose, I’ll take good offense over good defense every time. If you like watching baseball scores, extradite yourself to the SEC, where fans young and old have to start drinking at 8 a.m. to keep themselves entertained during three-hour punt-fests.
This is the West Coast. We like to be excited by innovation and forward thinking. And Dykes is absolutely the right guy. Even if he isn’t winning games, he’s going to be entertaining. And that’s all a college football fan should ask for.