Gregory's departure mostly a surprise

There was a way for California defensive coordinator Bob Gregory's departure to Boise State to not raise more than an eyebrow or two: If Gregory had bolted Berkeley for Boise on the day after national signing day and became the Broncos defensive coordinator, replacing Justin Wilcox, who was hired at Tennessee.

Such a move would have felt more seamless.

While few would call it a promotion to jump from the Pac-10 to the WAC -- even for a national power such as Boise State -- it would have seemed perfectly reasonable for Gregory to move on after being at Cal for eight seasons.

Sometimes change for the sake of change makes sense.

But the timing of Gregory's departure -- just over two weeks before spring practices begin on March 6 -- is hardly ideal, and it suggests this was a separation, even if it was an amicable one.

Moreover, Boise State hired Gregory as a "defensive assistant," not as the coordinator, a job that presently belongs to Pete Kwiatkowski, who was promoted from defensive line coach after Wilcox's departure.

Perhaps Gregory will get a "co-coordinator" slot. He was the Broncos defensive coordinator for a single season (2001) before being hired by Tedford, by the way. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. As for money, it's possible Boise State can match the $241,000 Gregory was making at Cal (before bonuses), at least when the salary is adjusted for cost of living.

Still, the vagueness suggests a hastily made deal.

Gregory did a good job at Cal. He rebuilt the Bears defense and his units were among the Pac-10 leaders in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008.

You could argue, in fact, that Cal has had the conference's second-best defense during his tenure, though obviously rating well behind USC.

Still, there's a building sense of urgency that the Bears need to take another step forward after a disappointing season, and coach Jeff Tedford has been fairly frank this offseason about needing to be more aggressive on defense.

It's hard to believe that Tedford outright pushed Gregory out the door, and it's clear that both men don't want that to be the perception. Gregory didn't return a message left on what now may be an outdated cell phone, and Tedford didn't immediately reply to a text message.

Said Tedford in the official statement: “This was coach Gregory’s decision all the way to make what he feels is the best move for his family."

Said Gregory: “This decision is a great move for my family.”

Not to be insensitive on this, but let's consider the recent case of Dave Ungerer, who was hired this week to be Washington State's new special teams/running backs coach.

Last February, Ungerer "left" Oregon State, reportedly to be closer to his family on the East coast. He coached at Elon College in North Carolina in 2009.

Beavers coach Mike Riley replaced Ungerer with Bruce Read, a longtime Riley assistant -- and friend -- who had been fired by the Dallas Cowboys at the end of the 2008 season.

Sometimes coaches make tough decisions and they'd prefer not to go into the details why.