California (3-9, 2-7)
MVP: Cornerback Steve Williams, who was voted defensive MVP by his teammates, shared the team lead with three interceptions and led the Bears with 13 pass defenses. He ranked third on the team with 80 tackles and added seven tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.
What went right: The renovated stadium looked great on Sept. 1 when the season opened. The Bears played a highly competitive game they probably should have won at Ohio State, which went undefeated. A two-game winning streak the first two weekends of October, including a blowout win over UCLA, briefly -- falsely -- suggested the potential for a midseason turnaround. It seemed as though there was a real effort to handle Jeff Tedford's firing with as much respect as possible, considering his substantial contribution to the program over 11 years.
What went wrong: The 31-24 loss on opening day to Nevada set the dismal trajectory for the season, one in which Tedford was fired after suffering though his worst season in Berkeley. The low point clearly was the spineless effort in the season finale at Oregon State, when the Bears, surely knowing that Tedford was likely to be fired, decided not to show up during a 62-14 drubbing in a dreary, continuous rain. The Bears were bad on both sides of the ball, but ultimately the lack of improvement from inconsistent quarterback Zach Maynard -- not unlike the other post-Aaron Rodgers QBs, from Joe Ayoob to Nate Longshore to Kevin Riley -- doomed Tedford, whose reputation was built on his success with quarterbacks.
Outlook for 2013: The Bears not only will be rebuilding next fall under new coach Sonny Dykes, they face a brutal schedule that could make things look worse than they are. The nonconference schedule includes visits from Northwestern, a sure Top-25 team, and Ohio State, a national title contender. Further, the Bears, per masochistic scheduling demands made by the school, insist on playing UCLA and USC every year. Let's hear it for the weekender! Who cares about the Rose Bowl?! Cal also takes road trips to Stanford and Oregon, which benefits significantly from Cal and Stanford demanding games with USC and UCLA every year. The Ducks and Cardinal will be ranked in the preseason top five, meaning Cal may play three top-five teams this season, as well as several others who likely will end up ranked. It might be the nation's toughest schedule. Aside from the schedule, Dykes needs to find a quarterback and will be switching the Bears from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. There's some nice pieces coming back -- most notably some promising young receivers, as well as defensive end Deandre Coleman and running back Brendan Bigelow -- and 2012 set the bar low, but next fall is unlikely to produce enough wins for a bowl berth.