BERKELEY -- Following practice on Wednesday, California head coach Sonny Dykes put his team through grueling conditioning, as the Bears did up-downs at five-yard intervals from end zone to end zone and back again, as punishment for players missing classes. On Friday, Dykes opened up to Cal Sports Digest about the punishment, and his post-practice speech in the north end zone.
“I think the thing we’ve got to do in our program is that we really have to get our guys to buy in, in every way, shape, form and fashion,” Dykes said.
On Wednesday, Dykes told his players that they couldn’t just “90-percent buy in,” nor could “just 90 percent of the guys buy in,” but rather that, to a man, they all had to buy in, 100 percent of the time.
“They’ve got to do things right, and understand that, if they don’t, they’re letting themselves down, they’re letting their teammates down, they’re letting alumni down, they’re letting fans down, letting coaches down, letting everybody down,” Dykes said on Friday. “That’s a culture that I think we’ve got to establish, and cultures don’t get fixed overnight. It’s just not the way it works. It takes time. The good thing is, I do get a sense that these guys are starting to take more of an interest in it, and starting to be accountable to each other, and understanding the importance of it. We’re certainly not there yet, but we’re making progress.”
On Wednesday, Dykes stressed that not taking care of business in the classroom will cost the Bears APR points, and if that downward trend continued, they wouldn’t be going to a bowl game in 2014, no matter what the record. By any measure, Dykes laid down some harsh realities to his charges.
“That’s the thing that we’ve got to do,” Dykes said. “I think, in some ways, they don’t know what they don’t know, and that’s our job, as coaches, to teach them, to point it out to them, to get them to understand how important it is to do everything right. This is a school that demands excellence off the field, in the classroom and on the field, and that’s what this program’s about. If you’re not one of those people who can really excel on all three of those, I’m not sure this is the right program for the guys, and they’ve got to understand that, and appreciate it.”
Dykes stressed to the team that they could “prance around and go through the motions, but that’s not why we’re here.”
“We felt like we had too many guys that were late, had some guys that were late to treatment and that kind of stuff, and they have a lot of responsibilities,” Dykes said. “Their schedules are booked from 8 a.m. to whatever time it is right now (9 p.m.), and it’s a long, hard schedule. The thing we’ve got to do is make sure that they understand our expectations and that we’re going to hold them accountable not just some of the time, but all of the time, and the quicker they take control of that and hold each other accountable, the better the program will be.”
Dykes asked his players on Wednesday whether they wanted to just come out and have fun and get pats on the behind, or whether they wanted to have a serious program, which hit the group like a bucket of ice water to the face.
“We’ve got enough talent,” Dykes said on Friday, “and I think we’re starting to develop enough skill to where we have the chance to be a pretty good football team, but we’re still not going to be where we need to be until these guys understand it’s their team, and ultimately, they’re in control of it. That’s when you go from good, to having a program. That’s what we want. We don’t want good teams, we want to have a good program.”