The fate of Cal's promising football recruiting class is in question after the news Monday that defensive line coach and recruiting ace Tosh Lupoi had accepted a position at Washington.
It was quiet in Cal's shiny new football offices on the holiday, but coach Jeff Tedford and his staff no doubt were doing damage control with elite high school prospects who had given them oral commitments but now could be wavering.
Lupoi, 30, a graduate of De La Salle High, was a player or assistant coach at Cal for 12 years. He took the UW job sometime after making Sunday night home visits with Tedford to Sacramento-area five-star defensive prospects Arik Armstead and Shaq Thompson.
The Seattle Times reported that Lupoi could be earning as much as $500,000 per season with the Huskies -- a huge raise from the $164,000 he received at Cal. It would be more than the salary of John Wilton, the university's vice chancellor for administration and finance.
Lupoi, Tedford and Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour were unavailable for comment. One campus source said Tedford badly wanted to keep Lupoi, who was offered "a significant raise" but less than what UW delivered.
Washington courted Lupoi for more than a week, and some reports suggest Lupoi turned down one or more offers.
Lupoi was named defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator at UW, where he will work with new Huskies defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who coached Lupoi during his playing days at Cal.
It's Lupoi's ability to connect with high school prospects that made him a hot property. In 2010, he was named Rivals Recruiter of the Year, and many of Cal's top 2012 recruits have said he's a prime reason they picked Berkeley.
"Lupoi is just phenomenal. He's the best recruiter in the Pac-12 right now, and that's saying a lot," said Allen Wallace, longtime recruiting expert from SuperPrep magazine, who last week rated Cal's class No. 9 in the nation.
However, letter-of-intent day isn't until Feb. 1, and commitments are not binding until then.
Many prospects, including De La Salle linebacker Michael Barton, Salesian offensive lineman Freddie Tagaloa and Bishop O'Dowd linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr., said they remain committed to Cal.
Wide receiver Bryce Treggs of St. John Bosco High in Bellflower and the son of ex-Cal star Brian Treggs, said his decision also is firm.
But for others, including several of the Bears' highest-profile recruiting targets, Lupoi's exit could change things.
Armstead, who is rated by Scout.com as the No. 2 overall national prospect, already has graduated from Pleasant Grove and intends to enroll in college this spring. He was expected to make his announcement Monday, the day before the new term begins at Cal.
Guss Armstead, Arik's father, in a message to the Sacramento Bee, said Monday, "We'll meet late 2nite as a family, talk, pray, decide soon."
Thompson, younger brother of ex-Cal standout Syd'Quan Thompson and regarded by some as the nation's top safety prospect, committed to Cal 10 days ago.
"Now I will spend the next two weeks until signing day weighing my options," the Grant High star said.
Staff writers Ben Enos and Phil Jensen contributed to this report.