Sports Extra: Holmoe Agrees to One-Year Contract Extension

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Running a reverse with the final seconds ticking off the clock, Cal head football coach Tom Holmoe agreed to a one-year contract extension less than 24 hours before the Bears kick off their 2000 season.

Flanked by Holmoe and Athletic Director John Kasser, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl announced the extension at a press conference this afternoon in the Hall of Fame Room at Memorial Stadium.

Holmoe rejected extension offers shortly after last season ended. He said a combination of steady pressure from Kasser and Berdahl to sign an extension and the distraction created by media speculation over his future led to his change of heart.

"To go into the season right now, there's not a coach in America who wants to talk about contracts," Holmoe said. "When they put education ahead of football and put faith in the direction this program is going, I couldn't say no."

Holmoe owns a 12-21 record in three years as head coach at Cal. He was entering the fourth year of a five-year contract, and despite the lack of a proven track record, the administration hoped to sign Holmoe to a long-term extension.

Berdahl cited Holmoe's integrity and his desire to maintain coaching continuity as integral to his desire to retain the coach.

"Tom has been very reluctant to ask for an extension," Berdahl said. "That speaks to his integrity and his personal strength he brings to the program. We needed to demonstrate that we believe in the continuity of the program. To assure continuity, it seemed appropriate to extend it."

Instead, Holmoe only agreed to extend the contract through the 2002 season. He has not officially signed yet, and Kasser said he expects the deal to be finalized sometime this season.

Kasser said the parties have not discussed money, but he expressed a desire to raise Holmoe's salary from the approximately $200,000 a year the coach currently draws.

The administration's willingness to reward a coach who has not produced a winning season in three seasons goes against the grain in college football. But Berdahl emphasized what Holmoe has done off the field rather than on, specifically referring to his recruitment of quality student athletes.

"What happens on the football field matters greatly to Tom and us," Berdahl said. "But (Holmoe brings) much more that means so much to this university than the win-loss record."

A subtext in the story is the coaching situation at Brigham Young, Holmoe's alma mater. Longtime BYU head coach LaVell Edwards, whom Holmoe remains close to, will step down at the end of this season, prompting speculation that Holmoe would leave Cal to fill the Cougars' vacancy.

Despite the obvious flaws in that theory - not only does Holmoe lack a proven track record, but his defensive pedigree would not meld well with BYU's offensive-minded philosophy - coaches have used the connection against Holmoe in recruiting wars. The extension through 2002 effectively ends any possibility of Holmoe leaving at the end of this season.

"There's a lot of teams and coaches who know I went to BYU and I'm a friend of LaVell Edwards," said Holmoe, who emphasized that he never entertained the thought of taking over for Edwards. "They put two and two together and used it against me in recruiting. This takes me out of the running."

Holmoe's team takes the field against Utah in their season opener tomorrow at 3:15 p.m.


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