SAN FRANCISCO –Excitement for the 2013 football season continued its crescendo Monday at Bay Area Media Day at the Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco.
Cal coach Sonny Dykes was joined by offensive lineman Freddie Tagaloa and cornerback Stefan McClure to field questions from a large contingent of Bay Area media. Coaches and players from Stanford and San Jose State were also on hand for the event that is hosted by the Fight Hunger Bowl.
After Dykes and the other coaches addressed the assembled press with a formal opening statement, they and the players broke into more informal interview sessions at tables scattered across the room.
The Bears open fall camp next Monday.
“The fun thing about this time of year is everybody is excited about their football team,” said Dykes, about to begin his first season at Cal. “We’re not any different.”
Dykes was hired to lead Cal’s program in December and has gone through his first recruiting season and spring practice with the Bears. But the main event is about to begin. Cal opens the season Aug. 31 at home against Northwestern.
“Football is in the air,” said McClure, who sat out last season with a knee injury. “It’s about a month away from strapping it on and playing against an opponent besides ourselves. Guys are excited to get back to competing.”
Both Tagaloa and McClure said that fall camp will be somewhat like an audition. They went through spring practice with the new coaching staff, but the fall is when evaluations will become intensified.
“You’re kind of starting from scratch,” McClure said. “Everybody has a clean slate. You have to really show from the beginning what you can do and why you should earn a starting spot.”
While acknowledging a coaching change can provide some temporary instability, Dykes said the past eight months have gone about as smoothly as possible. He said Cal’s players bought into the coaching staff’s philosophies from the outset.
“From Day One, the transition has been incredibly smooth,” Dykes said. “The guys have done a great job of doing everything we asked them to do. Credit to our players – they bought in from Day One. We had a great spring practice. We had great winter conditioning. They worked incredibly hard over the summer. I feel like we’re in a very good spot. We can’t wait to start practice.”
Monday culminated a whirlwind of media activity in recent days, especially for Dykes. He visited ESPN Wednesday along with the other conference coaches and then met with other national and East Coast media on Thursday. Dykes then met linebacker Nick Forbes and wide receiver Bryce Treggs for Pac-12 Media Day in Los Angeles on Friday.
“Everybody can’t wait to get the pads on,” Tagaloa said. “It’s been a while since spring ball. Everybody is just drooling at the mouth. Everybody is walking around the locker room with that eye. We can’t wait for Aug. 5.”