When it Rains it Pours
At this point, we are at DEFCON 2. The 3 major sports have been taking blow after blow. With reports of Memorial Stadium Sponsor FTX needing to be bailed out, Cal Basketball losing to UC Davis in basketball for the first time, Cal Baseball hasn't made the CWS since 2011, and in the last 10 years, football has only been bowl eligible 3 times. We can also bring up the Under Armor deal, which they are consistently trying to breach and end the contract. To make things worse Cal is in an identity crisis regarding what the name of the school should be. UC Berkeley? Cal? California? UCB? The list goes on...
We all know Cal Athletics will always be the back burner to the academics at the school but the problem is, it is falling behind to almost putrid levels. With conference realignment settling down we have to look forward to and prepare for the next wave as it is far from over. I realistically am expecting the PAC 12... (now 10... with reports of San Diego State PAC 11?) the next media deal might not be able to keep us afloat in the Athletics Race. What should Cal Athletics look to do at this point?
1. Update Branding
It is bizarre to me that Cal has been around for so long and most of the time people will not know what Cal is from California and UC Berkeley. A lot of that falls back on branding and for athletics, it needs to be Cal or California. That then brings us to how our apparel brands us. As we know, if you go on websites like Fanatics or even do a quick search online you cannot find a lot of Cal Golden Bear gear. If you go on Fanatics and go to the jersey section it is just a throwback Jaylen Brown jersey (It's a cool jersey but not the point.). Where are the football jerseys? New basketball jerseys? Heck, even baseball jerseys? Under Armor has let the school down by not pumping out new gear for people to get excited about. Once the deal is up, Cal will need to go to another brand and see how they will pump out gear to get people to buy.
2. Athletics Needs A Boost
Schools are very much getting ahead by investing in their sports team. Alabama has some of the best facilities in the land because of its success. Which leads to people becoming fans and supporting the school regardless of their affiliation. Which leads to investing in other sports and bringing their success up as well. Alabama has invested money into basketball and baseball with their football success and has brought them up to national contenders as well. Winning in football brings a lot of attention and money to the Athletic Department. The upgrade of Memorial Stadium is a huge positive but there is more work to be done. It seems that mediocrity has been accepted in Cal football and basketball. At this point, I believe it will be Wilcox's last season and Fox will be very close behind. The Athletics needs to be aggressive with their next hire as it seems it could make or break with donor activity.
3. Cal Needs to Start Reaching Out
The channels need to be working in the background. As much as I want to be optimistic the Pac-12 will survive... Oregon and Washington are looking for the door. You can even lump in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Arizona St. Cal needs to be in contact with the Big 10 first and foremost about what it would take. At this point, it's every man for themselves. If the Big 10 isn't considering a Pacific division with Oregon, Washington, Stanford, UCLA, and USC in the future... The Big 12 may be your next look. It's not ideal academically or with the past of Baylor and BYU but at the end of the day, you need to cover your skin and see who will take you if things go sideways.