Pac-12: Al Simmons

Staff changes: California

March, 2, 2011
Only Oregon and Washington didn't experience any staff turnover this offseason, so we're running through the staff changes for the other 10 Pac-12 teams.

Next up is California, which had considerable turnover on both sides of the ball but particularly on offense.

Team in parenthesis is where the departing coach ended up.

Andy Ludwig, offensive coordinator/QBs (San Diego State)
Steve Marshall, offensive line (Colorado)

Jim Michalczik, offensive coordinator/O-line
Marcus Arroyo, quarterbacks

Kevin Daft, receivers

Eric Kiesau, receivers/passing game coordinator

Al Simmons, secondary

Ashley Ambrose, secondary

Reaction: This is a lot of turnover, and seeing that coach Jeff Tedford has gone through offensive coordinators like Charlie Sheen through, er, girlfriends -- himself, George Cortez, Mike Dunbar, Frank Cignetti, Andy Ludwig and now himself, Michalczik, Kiesau and running game coordinator Ron Gould -- it's not unreasonable for Cal fans to wonder what the heck the problem is. Shoot, Tedford even changed strength coaches (Out: John Krasinski; In: Mike Blasquez). If you wanted to paint a dark picture, you could go for "Desperation & Instability" after the first losing season of the Tedford era. But there is this small comfort for Bears fans: This is a good staff, certainly better than 2010. Michalczik and Kiesau are known quantities: They know Tedford and coached with him when things were clicking in Berkeley. Michalczik might be the best line coach in a conference that has a lot of good line coaches. After signing an outstanding recruiting class, Tedford remarked to me. "It's like reassembling the band." The real test, though, is the quality of music that is played this fall.

Cal hires Ambose as DBs coach

January, 4, 2011
It didn't take long for California to find a new coach for its secondary.

This morning, Cal announced that Al Simmons was out. This afternoon, the school announced that Ashley Ambrose is in.

Ambrose has spent the last three seasons on the Colorado football staff, including the 2010 season as the defensive backs coach after serving as the receivers coach in 2009 and as a defensive technical intern in 2008.

“Ashley is a bright young and upcoming coach with a tremendous amount of football experience that we’re excited is joining the Cal football program,” coach Jeff Tedford said in a statement. “I strongly believe he will effectively communicate the knowledge he has gained both as a player at the highest level, and now at the beginning of a promising coaching career, to our players and his colleagues on our staff.”

Said Ambrose in the same statement: “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with Jeff Tedford and his staff. He’s a proven coach with a winning program and a great staff that knows how to recruit and coach. I’m going to focus on discipline and doing everything I can to help our student-athletes graduate from school, experience success on the football field at Cal, and teach them what it takes to be able to have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of playing at the next level.”

After being selected by Indianapolis in the second round (29th pick overall) of the 1992 NFL draft, Ambrose went on to play 13 seasons in the league, four with the Colts (1992-95), three with Cincinnati (1996-98), three with New Orleans (1999, 2003-04) and three with Atlanta (2000-02). He earned All-Pro honors with the Bengals in 1996, when he was also the AFC Defensive Back of the Year. During his career, he had 42 interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, and also posted 178 pass deflections to go with 514 tackles (464 solo).

After 192 games and 141 starts, he retired from professional football following the 2004 season.

Ambrose earned his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology in 1992 from Mississippi Valley State.

Secondary coach out at Cal

January, 4, 2011
Al Simmons, California's secondary coach, has left the program in order to "to pursue other professional opportunities," the school announced Tuesday.

That means coach Jeff Tedford now is looking for two new assistants. He also needs to replace offensive line coach Steve Marshall, who bolted for Colorado.

Simmons spent six seasons at Cal during two stints in Berkeley as the cornerbacks coach from 1998-2000 and defensive backs coach from 2008-10.

“I am thankful to Al for the dedication and commitment he displayed during his time with the Cal football program,” Tedford said in a statement. “I’m confident that those traits combined with the other outstanding qualities he possesses will lead to continued success in his future.”

The Bears had outstanding pass defense in 2008, ranking sixth in the nation in passing efficiency defense and grabbing 24 interceptions.

But the Bears' secondary, with all its top talent returning, struggled in 2009 and finished seventh in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency defense. The numbers improved in 2010, but the Bears grabbed just nine interceptions, tied for second fewest in the conference.

For another take, read here.