Jim Michalczik says he feels like he's come home, which is kind of funny because the home looks nothing like it did when he left.
Michalczik was hired last month as Cal's new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He coached the Bears' offensive line from 2002-08 before moving on to coach the Raiders' offensive line the past two seasons. He was also Cal's offensive coordinator in 2007.
When Michalczik left Cal after the 2008 season, construction of the Student-Athlete High-Performance Center was just getting going and the renovation of Memorial Stadium had yet to commence. Michalczik returned to find significant progress to the SAHPC, as well as a torn-up stadium. The football offices have been moved from inside Memorial Stadium to temporary portables near the softball stadium.
"The real cool thing with this is nine years ago this was a vision of Coach (Jeff) Tedford's," Michalczik said. "We were all part of it and we sold it to some kids along the way. The neat thing is to see it coming true and the commitment that the school and the alumni have made."
But while things may look a lot different, Michalczik said it didn't take long for him to feel comfortable back in Berkeley. He was gone only two seasons, meaning there are players still on the roster whom he knows and some he recruited.
"There's a little bit of feeling like you came home," Michalczik said. "I can't emphasize enough the way Coach Tedford runs the program. I believe in it. He does things the right way. He treats players the right way. He expects them to do the right things and have a chance to win."
Michalczik originally left Cal to become the offensive coordinator at Washington. But less than two months later, good friend Tom Cable had the interim tag removed as head coach of the Raiders and hired Michalczik as his offensive line coach. Michalczik was let go when Cable was not brought back after the 2010 season.
Michalczik said he received some inquiries about NFL jobs but didn't entertain any other offers once he found out he could return to Cal.
"I got some calls, but once I had the opportunity to come back here, I didn't look at anything else," he said. "Things kind of fell into place. I really believe in Cal football. I believe in Coach Tedford. I believe in the way things are done here."