|Cal's disappointing 3-9 season cost coach Jeff Tedford his job. (US Presswire)|
Cal (3-9, 2-7 Pac-12)
Expectations: Cal was tabbed to finish fourth in the Pac-12 North in the preseason media poll, so expectations weren't exactly sky high. However, there was pressure to win. After spending the 2011 season at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the Bears moved back across the bay to Berkeley for 2012. The team reopened Memorial Stadium, which was renovated at a cost of $321 million. The stadium project is being paid for by the sales of expensive Endowment Seats and as you can imagine, expensive seats don't sell too well when the team isn't playing well.
What went wrong: In one word: Everything. From the first quarter of the first game to the last quarter of the last game it was an ugly all around year for the Golden Bears. Starting QB Zach Maynard was benched for most of the first quarter of Cal's season opener, a 31-24 loss to Nevada. In the season finale against Oregon State, the Bears could only watch as the Beavers scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to put a giant exclamation point on a 62-14 Oregon State win. In between there were losses to Arizona State, Stanford, Utah and Washington -- games that many fans thought Cal could win. The low point for the Bears may have come against Stanford, when the Bears -- who averaged 183 yards on the ground per game this season -- rushed for only three yards.
When it went wrong: It didn't take long for the Bears' season to go south. Minutes before the season opener against Nevada kicked off, the school announced that Maynard wouldn't be starting against the Wolf Pack because he missed a tutoring session over the summer. The team was left in the dark about the situation and didn't find out Maynard was being benched until the night before the game. Backup quarterback Allan Bridgford filled in for most of the first quarter and to say he struggled would be a compliment, as Bridgford went 2 of 9 for six yards. By the time Maynard was on the field for his second series, Cal trailed 14-0 in a game they lost 31-24.
Biggest overall disappointment: Coach Jeff Tedford. It's not hard to tell where things went wrong in 2012 for Cal: it started with Tedford's decision to bench Maynard in the season opener and not tell anyone about it. Bridgford found out he was starting the night before the game and the baffling decision led to a 31-24 loss to Nevada. Two weeks later, against Ohio State, Tedford sent out his field goal kicker -- who was 0 for 2 on the day -- to attempt a 42-yard field goal on fourth-and-1. Many thought this was a precarious decision, considering the Bears rushing attack averaged 5.5 yards per carry against the Buckeyes. Vincent D'Amato missed the field goal and the Buckeyes went on to win 35-28.
Another storyline emerged from that game that would haunt Tedford all season: sophomore running back Brendan Bigelow's 160 rushing yards. Bigelow picked up the yardage on only four carries -- that's 40 yards per carry if you're scoring at home -- and scored two touchdowns. Despite that performance, Bigelow only received six or more carries in a game once the entire season (All four of Bigelow's carries from the Ohio State game can be seen below).
Bright spot: The Bears' season wasn't all bad memories. In one of the biggest upsets in the Pac-12 this year, Cal manhandled UCLA in a 43-17 October win. Maynard threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns as the Bears handed the Bruins their worst loss of the season.
Another bright spot for the Bears is their young wide receiving corps. True freshmen Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Darius Powe combined to catch 74 passes on the season for 894 yards and three touchdowns.
2013 outlook: The Bears 2013 outlook seems to be Sunny -- or is it Sonny? With the Dec. 5 hire of former Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes, a new brand of Cal football will be played in Berkeley next season. Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin put together the No. 1 offense in the country at Louisiana Tech in 2012 and you can expect them to try to do the same thing at Cal. The Bears have the tools and the talent to run Dykes' offense, the only question is: Who will be quarterbacking Cal's Bear Raid offense? Dykes will have several quarterbacks to choose from, including Bridgford and highly-touted freshman Zach Kline. If the new quarterback picks up the offense quickly, the Bears could be dangerous next season.
Four Pac-12 teams didn't make a bowl game, read about "what went wrong" at the other three schools here: