Discipline, academics go hand-in-hand
BERKELEY -- Last season, the motto of the California football team was, "We all we got, we all we need."
That motto was never truer than during the 16 days the Bears were without a head coach.
"That's what it's been: We're all we need," said freshman wide receiver Chris Harper, who recorded one of the best seasons in program history for a true freshman wide out, hauling in 41 passes for 544 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing three times for five net yards and one score. "I think everybody's been of the same mindset, that we're just going to work hard until we do get a new head coach here, and when he gets here, we'll work even harder. We've been building more of a team these past couple weeks, just by ourselves. I feel like we have a good thing going."
Safety Avery Sebastian said that the team was dialed in to the search through various news outlets.
"It wasn't too long of a wait, but it was a really antsy wait," Sebastian said. "All the players huddled around ESPN.com, trying to look at what's going on, on Cal Rivals, just going around, certain sites, just looking around."
Various reports from inside the Simpson Center indicated that there was some discord on the team during former head coach Jeff Tedford's final season, and with Cal's last-in-the-Pac-12 Graduation Success Rate, new head coach Sonny Dykes has his work cut out for him in re-establishing a sense of accountability in the locker room.
"That's the main thing, and that's the first thing coach Dykes came in and talked to us in the team meeting about today," Sebastian said on Thursday. "It's not going to be easy, as a team. Coaches have to meet us halfway, and we're going to meet them the other half, and it's going to be a really good collaboration, and we're going to get a lot of work done."
Asked whether there was a distinct lack of discipline on the 2012 squad, both Sebastian and Harper demurred a bit. After a long pause, Sebastian said, "It wasn't so much, it was just attention to detail, really. Not so much lack of, just small things that people would slip up on, individually, as a team. It's part of the game. It's something that we need to get corrected as a team, and coach Dykes is going to do his best with the new staff and the support staff to help us and mold us into the team we're going to be."
Harper also equivocated in the face of that question.
"Um, not exactly a lack of discipline, but I don't know exactly what the problem was last year," he said. "I feel like everybody took a really deep look into what happened last year, and we just think that we need to be more of a team, more disciplined."
Discipline isn't just limited to the football field. Discipline in the program should lead not only to fewer penalties between the lines, but also a commitment in the classroom, something that Dykes trumpeted in his first presser as the Cal skipper.
"When coach said that athletics and academics are a great correlation of how a football team is, I agree with that, because the discipline part is a huge part of a team, and I feel like, with him saying that, it just gives me comfort," Harper said.