Following a season of near misses and poor execution, Cal offensive coordinator Steve Hagen was officially let go Monday, head coach Tom Holmoe announced.
Hagen’s job has been a source of speculation nearly the entire season, as the Bears never seemed to get on track offensively. Hagen was also the Bears’ quarterback coach, and sophomore Kyle Boller never made the breakthrough many expected.
Cal finished ninth in the Pac-10 in total offense, averaging 317.5 yards per game, only a slight improvement over their last-place finish in 1999 (250 ypg), Hagen’s first year as offensive coordinator.
Apparently the decision was left up to Holmoe by Cal Athletic Director John Kasser. The head coach said that while the offense was on the upswing at the end of the year, it just wasn’t enough improvement to justify Hagen’s return.
“I saw some progress in the direction of our offense over the last half of the season, but not enough to convince me we were on the right path to take our offense to the next level,” he said. “Steve is a man of character. He’s good with the players and that made the decision difficult. However, we need to do what’s best for the program and for our players and I believe a change is essential at this time.”
Holmoe said he had been contemplating Hagen’s status for the last month and came to a final decision on Sunday, following the conclusion of Cal’s 36-30 loss to the Stanford Cardinal to wrap up a disappointing 3-8 season.
Holmoe indicated he had met with Hagen Monday morning and informed him of the decision. He said he would immediately begin a search for a new offensive coordinator and expected to have a replacement in December.
Holmoe has definite qualities in mind for the new offensive coordinator.
“I definitely plan to hire somebody with considerable experience as an offensive coordinator at the Division I level,” said Holmoe. “This has to be somebody who can come in and inject a spark on our offense.”
“It’s also critical that we get a coach who has a proven track record in developing quarterbacks. Basically, this is somebody who can help us get on track right now. With nine starters back on offense, we’re not in a rebuilding situation. We expect to win right now.”
Holmoe said that he has targeted four prime candidates and would begin discussions immediately with one or more of those coaches.
“Since several of the candidates will be involved in bowl games, our final announcement of a coordinator may be delayed until sometime in late December, but I have every confidence that we’ll be able to land the coach we want,” he said.
The Cal head coach also indicated that he would recommend to the new coordinator that he retain some of Cal’s current offensive coaches, but that the new coordinator would have the final authority on setting his offensive staff.