The changing of the Aggie football guard has been completed.
Despite the herculean tasks of putting 75 returning players and eight key assistants on the same page while working to bring in a handful of recruits who will make a difference, new UC Davis coach Ron Gould took some time to chat with The Davis Enterprise.
Humble but confident, focused but open to ideas, the former Cal running backs wizard has been living a whirlwind existence during his first month in town.
“I’ve found this is a wonderful community,” says the 47-year-old Gould. “I’m very blessed to be here.”
Gould was named successor to Bob Biggs on Dec. 17. Biggs, a former Aggie quarterback, retired after 20 years as UCD coach and almost 40 seasons in the program.
Staying periodically with a local family while getting to know his inherited team and working to secure the best incoming crop of players possible, Gould says his coaching style revolves around “trust.”
“I haven’t had the opportunity to meet with all the players (individually),” the coach continues. “But the (objective) is for me to meet with each and every one of them. I’ve addressed the team and I’ve been able to talk about what the plan is.”
The Aggies are coming off of a 4-7 season in which they struggled in their inaugural Big Sky Conference campaign. Gould’s “plan” ultimately is to scoop heaping helpings of history and a sense of community upon his players.
He’s already implored his players to learn the school fight song — no one knew it at Gould’s first team meeting. However, by the next gathering, the seniors led a rousing rendition, which the coach said “gave me goose bumps.”
He hopes every aspect of Aggie football will gel as fast …
Next fall, he wants a multiple-set offense that dishes out a balanced attack.
Gould wants his Aggies to be able to stop the run, rush the passer.
He wants fans — loud fans — in the stands.
“We have 30,000 students here,” the former Oregon defensive back points out. “We want them to take a study break. Study Friday, if they need to … then come out and support Aggie football Saturday. Let’s make this a 12th man for us. We want (other schools) to dread coming in here.”
But before all those long-term goals can happen, Gould has been busy building his foundation.
Assembling his staff — a young staff, by Division I standards — was priority No. 1. It was accomplished amid a blizzard of forms and welcome-to-Davis overtures by campus officials and well-wishers.
“I’ve never seen as much paperwork,” Gould reports, only half kidding. “But (the administration or Athletic Director Terry Tumey) didn’t give me any demands.
“I’ve been relying on coach Biggs. There’s so many little (details) that go on day-to-day, that I have no idea how it works around here.”
But quickly, Gould says he’s getting acclimated, and he’s happy with his coaching alignment.
Assistants include returning Aggies Jeff Copp (linebackers, special teams), Will Kofe (defensive line), Matt Brand (strength and conditioning), Damaro Wheeler (cornerbacks) and Kevin Daft (quarterbacks). New to UCD are recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Ben Steele, Matt Wiegand (offensive line) and running backs coach Bryan Wright.
Steele and Wiegand were most recently at Cal with Gould. Wright was a graduate assistant at Michigan. Denis Hallin — another ex-Golden Bear — takes over as director of football operations.
“It took a while to assemble the staff,” Gould continues. “I have a group of young men that really cares. That was important to me.”
Gould and Company already have spent countless hours in discussion, a lion’s share of that time spent pinpointing the kind of student-athlete that Gould hopes will guide the Aggies into postseason play, entertaining ever-increasing numbers of fans en route.
“I know the coaches have been sick of me because we’ve been meeting six, seven hours at a time just going over recruiting. We scour the mecca of recruiting, which is the state of California.”
Gould, a brilliant evaluator of talent, saw 10 of his Cal running backs head into the NFL — including Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Javhid Best (Detroit), Justin Forsett (Houston) and Shane Vereen (New England).
He’s reluctant to talk about who, or what positions, his staff has been going after.
“In this business, the Pac-12 guys have come and taken a couple of our guys late here, which is OK … it’s inevitable when you find great players.”
Nonetheless, Gould believes there will be standout names signing National Letters of Intent for UCD next month.
Without tipping his hand, Gould wants “the best possible prospects at every position, so we just want to put together a great team. Not necessarily just the running backs. We’re going to need great quarterbacks, great linemen, great defensive linemen … secondary guys, linebackers as well as wide receivers.”
To keep everybody organized, Gould has had his offensive and defensive coaches meet together. The head man believes it’s a good idea that the folks on one side of the ball know what the other side is trying to accomplish.
Gould lives in Pleasant Hill with his wife Teresa Kuehn-Gould, who is Cal’s deputy director of athletics. The coach has two sons Tevin, 18, and Trae, 14.
So what outside-of-football tidbits will Aggie fans begin to discover about their new leader?
“I like to cook,” Gould says smiling. “I really enjoy cooking.
“That’s why I’m so looking forward to having a place here in Davis. … It’s that I’m accustomed to cooking for all the players.
“When I was a position coach, I would bring over every young man that I recruited … smoke some ribs, chicken, hot links, fish …”
Part of the reason Gould loves to cook is being able to host his players, let them hang out, “make them feel at home. Couple of times a year, relax, get away from campus.”
Now if this accomplished chef has the right recipe for what’s cooking on the field, what a sweet taste Aggie football will have.
Notes: “I enjoy reading my Bible, (being) with friends. I enjoy my family … I like being with Trae. We enjoy playing chess, playing games,” Gould said. “I am a very humble guy. Super-competitive. A man of great faith. And I like to cook. Those are probably things Aggie fans should know about.” … Gould spent 16 seasons with the Golden Bears, 11 as running backs coach (1997-2007) before being named associate head coach in 2008. He also was run-game coordinator for two seasons before longtime head coach Jeff Tedford was let go after last season. … The Writing Is On the Wall Dept.: Ten of Cal’s best 12 seasons on the ground came under Gould. He mentored six of the Bears’ top 10 all-time rushers.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.