COACHING: George Cortez, who offers 28 years of professional and college coaching experience to Cal's football staff, is entering his fourth season as the school's offensive coordinator.
Working in tandem with head coach Jeff Tedford, Cortez has made a dramatic impact on the Bears' offense.
As one of the most balanced units in the nation - averaging 256.8 yards rushing and 235.7 yards passing - the 2004 club ranked No. 5 in total offense (492.4 ypg), No. 6 in rushing offense (256.8 ypg) and No. 7 in scoring offense (36.8 ppg) nationally. Under his direction, the Bears featured two Heisman Trophy candidates in running back J.J. Arrington and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and a returning All-America wide receiver in Geoff McArthur. Arrington, the Pac-10 rushing champion with 2,018 yards, ranked No. 1 nationally in total rushing yards and broke Chuck Muncie's school season rushing record last fall. Rodgers, meanwhile, ranked No. 8 nationally in passing efficiency while throwing for 2,566 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. And McArthur crowned his illustrious career by setting Cal all-time marks for receptions (202) and receiving yards (3,188).
Cortez has paid a prominent role in Cal's offense posting three of the four highest scoring seasons in school history over the 2002-04 campaigns, and also claiming Pac-10 rushing titles in each of the past two seasons - the first time the Bears have led the conference in rushing since 1958.
In Cortez's initial season in Berkeley, Cal averaged 35.6 points per game to rank 10th in the NCAA and second in the Pac-10 behind USC (35.8). That Bear team unleashed 40 points or more in four games - 70 vs. Baylor, 55 at Arizona State, 46 at Michigan State and 41 vs. Arizona. Cortez played a prominent role in the emergence of senior quarterback Kyle Boller, whose 2,815 yards and 28 touchdowns passing were the second most in Cal history for a season.
As an encore performance, Tedford and Cortez took the Bear offense to an even higher level in 2003. Cal ranked first in rushing offense (168.3) and third in both total offense (432.9) and scoring (32.6) in the Pac-10. The club produced a 1,000-yard rusher (Adimchinobe Echemandu), a 1,500-yard receiver (McArthur) and a 2,900-yard passer (Rodgers), while scoring 40 points or more four times - 54 vs. Washington, 52 vs. Virginia Tech, 51 at Arizona State and 42 vs. Arizona. Several noteworthy school records came tumbling down, as well, including season marks for total offense (6,061 yards) and first downs (321), and a single-game mark for total offense (729 yards vs. Washington).
Prior to joining the Cal staff, Cortez served as offensive coordinator for the 2001 Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and was the man credited with developing the talents of Jeff Garcia and other successful CFL quarterbacks. Under Cortez's tutelage, Garcia led the Stampeders to the 1998 Grey Cup title and later elevated his game to NFL Pro Bowl status with the San Francisco 49ers.
Cortez was the mastermind behind some of the CFL's most prolific offenses during his four years as Calgary's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2001, the Stampeders led the league in eight offensive categories, including scoring (25.4 ppg), while Calgary running back Kelvin Anderson gained 1,383 yards to lead the circuit's No. 1 rushing offense. A year earlier, Cortez produced the CFL's 2000 Most Outstanding Player in quarterback Dave Dickenson, who guided an offense that ranked first or second in seven league offensive categories.
Despite playing three different quarterbacks due to injuries, Cortez helped steer Calgary to the Western Division crown in 1999, a season in which the Stampeders topped the CFL in seven offensive areas. And in Cortez's first year as Calgary's coordinator, the 1998 Stampeders claimed the Grey Cup as the Garcia-led offense paced the CFL in 10 statistical departments. Cortez, a 1973 graduate of Texas A&M, also coached Calgary's defensive secondary in 1997 and was the Stampeders' offensive line coach from 1992-94 - a period in which their line led the CFL in fewest sacks allowed. In '92, his player, Bruce Coventon, became the first-ever offensive lineman to win the Jackie Parker Trophy as the Western Division's Rookie of the Year.
Remarkably, three of his quarterbacks from the 1998 Calgary team played in the NFL (Garcia, Dickenson and Henry Burris).
In other coaching stops, Cortez served as quarterback coach at Southern Methodist University from 1995-96 and was defensive line and special teams coach for the CFL's Ottawa Roughriders from 1990-91. He also coached for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes/Concordes from 1983-86, and logged college stints for a combined nine years at Lamar and Rice universities, as well as five years of coaching at C.E. King High School in Houston, Texas.
PERSONAL: Cortez, 54, was born Feb. 11, 1951 in Port Arthur, Texas. His hobbies include reading books on history. He and his wife, Connie, live in Vallejo.
Cortez at a Glance
2002- Offensive Coordinator/QBs California 1998-2001 Offensive Coordinator/QBs Calgary Stampeders 1997-98 Defensive Backs Calgary Stampeders 1995-96 Quarterbacks SMU 1992-94 Offensive Line Calgary Stampeders 1990-91 Defensive Line/Special Teams Ottawa Roughriders 1988-89 Offensive Line Lamar 1987 Running Backs Lamar 1986 Defensive Line Montreal Alouettes 1984-85 Running Backs Montreal Alouettes 1979-82 Offensive Line Rice 1973-78 Assistant Coach King High School (TX)