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Cal Bears add Cal Poly RBs coach to replace assistant who left for Cal Poly

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Cal Bears football became the latest program to show that the college coaching cycle is one big circle of life.

Last month, Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin left to become the head coach at Cal Poly.  Cal running backs coach Nick Edwards then left his post to take over as Baldwin’s offensive coordinator at Cal Poly.

Tuesday, Cal announced that Justin Wilcox has hired Aristotle Thompson would replace Edwards as running backs coach.  Thompson’s last job?  As the running backs coach at Cal Poly.

“I know first-hand the type of coach and person Aristotle is,” the Cal Bears football head coach said. “He joins our program after spending more than a decade coaching and teaching at a strong academic institution like Cal Poly, and understanding that type of strong academic environment is important. He also has a long track record of developing running backs, and he is well-known and well-liked in recruiting circles, particularly on the West Coast.”

Thompson spent the past 11 seasons at the FCS school.  This will mark the 41-year-old’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

“I am excited to become part of a tremendous coaching staff at Cal,” Thompson said. “This is a program that has established a great culture over the last three years and I’ll do everything I can to contribute to it.”

Bill Musgrave takes over as OC/QBs coach at Cal

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The college hiring season is in full swing, with Bill Musgrave now in officially in place at Cal.

Last month, Beau Baldwin left Cal after three seasons to take the head job at FCS Cal Poly.  A month later, it’s been confirmed by the program that Bill Musgrave has been hired by Justin Wilcox as the new offensive coordinator at Cal.

Musgraves will also be responsible for the Golden Bears’ quarterbacks.

“Bill Musgrave has a brilliant offensive mind and is one of top teachers of offensive football and quarterbacks,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Bill has incredible football knowledge and has been extremely versatile in the offensive systems he has run throughout his career, which is important. He also has a strong desire to coach again at the collegiate level, where he can help develop young football players at a formative stage of their careers. His competitiveness and humility stood out during the hiring process. Everyone that I talked to about Bill that I know and trust had tremendous things to say. He will be a great fit at Cal.”

Musgrave, who played his college football at Oregon, has spent the vast majority of his 20-year-plus coaching career in the NFL.  His last job at the collegiate level?  as the coordinator/quarterbacks/tight ends coach at Virginia in 2001-02.  In fact, that is Musgrave’s only coaching job in college football.

Musgrave has served as the coordinator at five different NFL stops — Denver (2018), Oakland (2015-16), Minnesota (2011-13), Jacksonville (2003-04) and Carolina (2000).

This past season, Musgrave was on the sidelines at both levels of football.

“I am thrilled to join a Cal program that has exciting days ahead,” Musgrave said. “I want to continue building upon what has already been started, which on the offensive side of the ball is a young group that showed tremendous progress last season and was playing its best football at the end of the year. Coach Wilcox and his staff have done a tremendous job of creating an outstanding culture and environment that is focused on teaching football, and one of the most enjoyable and satisfying parts of this job is to be able to play a key role in the development of young players. There is a tremendous opportunity to do that right now at Cal, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Baldwin joined Wilcox in Berkeley in January of 2017 as the Golden Bears’ offensive coordinator and running backs coach, while also carrying the title of assistant head coach.  In January of last year, he moved from running backs to quarterbacks as Wilcox looked to shake up the worst offense in the Pac-12.

The shuffling didn’t help much as the Bears were again dead-last in the conference in scoring at 21.2 points per game (they were at 21.5 ppg a year ago).  Their yards per game dipped from 344 a year ago to 328.5 in 2019.  They are last in the league in that category as well.

Chase Garbers, Evan Weaver lead Cal to Redbox Bowl win

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Chase Garbers earned MVP honors after passing for 272 yards and four touchdowns as Cal (8-5) pulled away from Illinois (6-7), 35-20, Monday in the Redbox Bowl. The Redbox Bowl victory was Cal’s first bowl win since the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl.

The first touchdown thrown by Garbers gave Cal a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. His only touchdown run on Cal’s next possession re-gained the lead for the Bears, and his second touchdown pass late in the first half lifted Cal to a 21-10 lead. Cal never really had much reason to check the rearview mirror after that.

Garbers added two more red zone touchdown passes to provide a solid cushion against the Illini, who still have plenty of reasons to be satisfied with their 2020 season despite taking a loss in the final game of their season. Illinois just did not play as clean and efficient game as Cal and it cost them. Illinois had the only turnover of the game, although the defense made up for it by forcing a three-and-out and a punt.

Cal defensive standout Evan Weaver also made some history in the game. Weaver set a new Pac-12 single-season record for most tackles, bringing his season total to 182 tackles in 2019.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have now split their first two bowl meetings this season, which means the Rose Bowl will determine a bowl season winner between the two conferences. Wisconsin will face Oregon on New Years Day. Iowa defeated USC in the Holiday Bowl. The Big Ten is now 3-2 this bowl season, and the Pac-12 evens its bowl record at 2-2.

Cal will kick off the 2020 season in Las Vegas on Aug. 29, 2020 with a game against UNLV in the brand new Allegiant Stadium, the new home to UNLV and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders (soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders). Cal will continue to be a team nobody in the Pac-12 will want to play next season with a young nucleus set to return next year.

Illinois will open its 2002 campaign at home against Illinois State. Hopes of getting to a second consecutive bowl game could be lifted early with a favorable home schedule to start the season (UConn and Bowling Green). Illinois is on track to return up to 16 starters next season and Lovie Smith has done a decent job filling out the roster where needed. Expect to see Illinois in a bowl game again in 2020.

Big first half by Chase Garbers has Cal leading Illinois in Redbox Bowl

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Illinois has a little bit of work to do if the Illini are going to win their first bowl game since 2011. Illinois trails California at halftime of the Redbox Bowl, 21-13.

The Illini and Bears exchanged touchdown drives on three striaght possessions beginning with Cal’s second offensive series of the game. Chase Garbers completed a short pass to Collin Moore to give Cal a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter. Brandon Peters answered for Illinois with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Barker on the ensuing possession, but Garbers came up with his own response with a short run on the goal line after the Bears moved down the field their next time out.

Garbers has completed 13 of 16 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He has also rushed for one touchdown.

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox and Illinois head coach Lovie Smith are each hoping to secure their first bowl victory as a head coach.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 30 Viewer’s Guide

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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 30 bowl menu, one that features three Power Five vs. Power Five matchups.

WHO: Western Kentucky (8-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
WHERE: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
BUY TICKETS: Click here

THE SKINNY: Please, allow me to get this out of the way, right away, so that we can all move on: This game will determine which Western is the Best Western, correct? … I sincerely apologize for that.  Simply couldn’t help myself. … The Hilltoppers are looking for their first bowl win since 2016, the Broncos since 2015. Overall, WMU is 1-7 in bowl games… In its first season under Tyson Helton, WKU has jumped from three wins in 2018 to eight thus far in 2019.  Three of those wins came in the last three games of the regular season, including a 26-point shellacking of Arkansas on the road. … WMU’s last three losses have come by a combined 17 points. … WKU averages 25.6 points per game on offense (90th in the country), while WMU gives up 26.2 ppg (57th).  The Broncos are 25th in scoring offense scoring at 34.2 ppg, while the Hilltoppers are 23rd in scoring defense at 20.1 ppg. … One player to watch that you’ve probably never heard of is WKU defensive end DeAngelo Malone.  The junior is tied for fourth nationally in tackles for loss with 21 and 11th in sacks with 11½. … First Responder Bowl fun fact: Last year’s game was the first with SERVPRO as the title sponsor and was ruled a no-contest between Boise State and Boston College due to severe weather that hit in the first quarter. … Six of the previous eight editions of a game that has also gone by the names of TicketCity Bowl and Heart of Dallas Bowl have been decided by 13 or more points.  One of the other two went into overtime (Army over North Texas in 2016).
THE LINE: Western Michigan, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Western Kentucky 27, Western Michigan 24

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WHO: Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Louisville (7-5)
WHAT: The 22nd Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
WHERE: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
WHEN: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Louisville, +4
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Cal (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6)
WHAT: The 18th Redbox Bowl
WHERE: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
WHEN: 4 p.m. ET on FOX
THE LINE: Illinois, +6½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Florida (10-2) vs. Virginia (9-4)
WHAT: The 85th Capital One Orange Bowl
WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Virginia, +14½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.