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Cal fires Sonny Dykes; Chip Kelly coming in?

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Well that would sure change the dynamic in the Pac-12 North!

NCAA Football: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Some pretty stunning news this morning as Cal has unceremoniously (actually, is there any other way?) fired its football coach Sonny Dykes.

It’s not weird in and of itself that Cal is moving on from Dykes; the relationship has seemed frayed for a couple of years, with Dykes reportedly floating his interest in a number of jobs last offseason. What is weird is that this is all happening roughly six weeks after the 5-7 Golden Bears played their final game.

Now, Jon Wilner, of the San Jose Mercury News, is about as tuned in as anyone to both Cal and Stanford, and he says the timing might not be all that weird for a school that is pretty notorious for its weirdness, especially when it comes to athletics.

It looks like the payout to Dykes is going to be somewhere around $5 million, a weighty number for a school that not too long ago was cutting sports programs (such as the baseball team, which was famously saved) to balance its budget.

Thing is, the college carousel more or less stopped spinning this week with Minnesota hiring P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan. Which brings us back to Cal’s odd timing, which — even in the context of Wilner’s tweet — only makes any sense if either, A) Something happened behind the scenes we don’t know about (which seems to not be the case), or B) His replacement has been lined up.

Oh yeah! That!

Chip Kelly was fired by the San Francisco 49ers a week ago, his second unsuccessful stint in the NFL since leaving the Oregon Ducks for the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2012 season. A return to the college game seems most natural for Kelly, who was wildly successful with the Ducks and is unlikely to get another NFL head coaching job anytime soon, if ever.

Wilner is skeptical about the Kelly angle:

Speculation in the Bay Area naturally focused on Chip Kelly, who was fired by the 49ers last week. But two sources with knowledge of Cal’s plans dismissed Kelly as a potential candidate.

“This move wasn’t about getting Chip Kelly,” one source said. “This was about getting the donor base re-engaged.”

Yes, but if you can do both ... ?

Other names Wilner mentioned: current offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.

Justin Wilcox, one-time UW defensive coordinator and lover of Bert’s Beeswax Lip Balm

Whatever happens, this is going to be fascinating for WSU. The Cougs and Golden Bears often target a similar pool of recruits despite Cal’s reputation as one of the premier public institutions in the country. If Kelly goes there, needless to say it’s a pretty massive game changer. If Cal has totally botched this thing (not out of the realm of possibility), that would also have a pretty large impact on WSU, perhaps allowing Mike Leach and his staff to become the beneficiaries.

When Mike Riley left OSU for Nebraska, WSU picked off a number of players. Leach and his staff likely are on the phone with a number of Cal commits as I write this, but here’s a big one: three-star athlete Michael Onyemaobi, who had an official to WSU on December 9. The Cougs could definitely use him on either side of the ball:

Stay tuned, I guess!