Tony Franklin, Cal football’s offensive coordinator, goes over some plays for the upcoming game with quarterback Jared Goff as they pose for a photo
Tony Franklin, Cal football's offensive coordinator, goes over some plays for the upcoming game with quarterback Jared Goff as they pose for a photo at Memorial Stadium on the Cal Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group) (Laura A. Oda)

BERKELEY -- As offensive coordinator for the Cal football team, Tony Franklin is the mastermind of the Bear Raid attack, notable for its ferocious tempo.

But there are times when Franklin takes his foot off the gas pedal.

He slows it down while savoring his daily walk through campus from BART to his office at Memorial Stadium. One day he stopped to listen at a rally protesting potential U.S. military intervention in Syria.

A 56-year-old native of Kentucky, Franklin has quickly adjusted to the campus often best-known for Telegraph Avenue and the birth of the Free Speech Movement. He's not concerned with what he wears or if he shaves daily.

Asked if anyone has suggested that he has a Berkeley vibe, Franklin said, "I know I do. The voice just doesn't reflect it. I absolutely love living here. I just love the openness of the young people."

Few on campus are younger and more open to change than freshman quarterback Jared Goff, 18, who has embraced Franklin's fast-paced offense, which is averaging 33.7 points, 556 yards and 95 plays as the Bears (1-2) head into Saturday night's game at No. 2 Oregon.

"He's probably the most unique coach I've ever had," Goff said.

Franklin spent 16 years teaching and coaching in high school until landing a job at Kentucky in 1997 as the running backs coach. He then spent five years in college football exile after NCAA investigators came after the Wildcats.


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His problems started in 2000, when after four seasons under coach Hal Mumme, he left Kentucky just as the NCAA was beginning its probe of the Wildcats' program.

Convinced he was being made a scapegoat for the problems at Kentucky, Franklin in 2001 filed a lawsuit against the school and against Mumme, whom Franklin accused of engaging in a "smear campaign."

He also wrote and published "Fourth Down And Life To Go," in which he detailed much of what transpired while he was at Kentucky.

"When I wrote the book, I knew I might never coach again," Franklin said. "I was willing to do it to clear my name."

Mumme and Kentucky parted ways early in 2001 after an NCAA report revealed three dozen violations. The school was cited for lack of institutional control and hit with scholarship reductions and a bowl ban.

Franklin was not named in the NCAA report, but for five years he could not get even a sniff of a college job.

"You would call somebody," he recalled, "and they'd never return calls. Zero reaction."

As for his own lawsuit against Kentucky, that was settled when the university agreed to send a letter to every athletic director and head coach in the country stating that Franklin didn't cheat or sell out the program to the NCAA.

"That was all I wanted," Franklin said.

His problems weren't over yet. At one point, Franklin had to file for bankruptcy. "Lost everything," he said.

The coach stayed afloat by giving seminars on "The Tony Franklin System" and providing on-site consulting to high school and small college teams. Alabama's Hoover High used his approach to win six state championships, and a decade later his business lives on.

Finally, in 2006, Larry Blakeney of Troy (Ala.) University hired Franklin as his offensive coordinator.

"I was desperate to find somebody who could run this offense, be innovative and sound," Blakeney said. "Shoot, this guy was perfect for me. I loved him and still do."

By Franklin's second season, Troy had doubled its scoring output and won eight games. By his third season under coach Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech last fall, the Bulldogs led the nation in scoring at 51.5 points per game.

Franklin's offense has 15 basic concepts -- four in the run game, eight in the passing game and three for screen passes -- and countless variations off each of them. All of it is run as quickly as possible.

"We share the same philosophy of figuring out what players can do and letting them do it," Dykes said. "He doesn't care about statistics, how many points. He just wants us to win."

Franklin said he and Dykes have an ideal working relationship.

"He's smart, he knows what he's doing, he knows what I want to do and we come together and it works," Franklin said.

SATURDAY'S GAME

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