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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 30 · Number 4 · Summer 2013


Gould's rush

The Aggies new football Coach Ron Gould discusses what he expects from his UC Davis student-athletes.

The Aggies’ first new head football coach in 20 years brings energy, creativity and a reputation for an innovative running game.

When Ron Gould was tapped as UC Davis’ new head football coach last December, he said he was most excited by “the opportunity to have it all — to have the academics as well as the athletics.”

He certainly knows about football smarts. The 47-year-old Gould is an acclaimed whiz at coaching and recruiting for the running game. Under former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, he used a blend of innovation and inspiration to develop one of the most potent rushing attacks in the Pac-12 Conference. Cal was known for a two-tailback system throughout Gould’s tenure, with the Bears’ top two rushers combining for at least 1,500 yards in each of his final 10 seasons. The Golden Bears also produced a 1,000-yard rusher nine times in his final 11 seasons.

At Cal, Gould’s techniques and success earned him a promotion to associate head coach in 2008 and run-game coordinator for his final two seasons, 2011 and 2012.

That’s the kind of coach UC Davis was looking for to lead it forward in Division I football. The university has been a launching pad for coaches over the years: The list of UC Davis-rooted coaches and their most prominent jobs includes Dan Hawkins ’84 (Boise State University), Chris Petersen ’88, M.A. ’90, (Boise State), Paul Hackett ’70 (University of Pittsburgh), Mike Belotti ’73, Cred. ’74, (University of Oregon), Nick Aliotti ’77 (University of Oregon) and Gary Patterson (Texas Christian University). Now, Gould has an opportunity to take Aggie football to the next level as its 16th head coach and its first in the past 20 years. He replaces Bob Biggs, the second-winningest coach in Aggie history who retired at the close of the 2012 season.

UC Davis Director of Athletics Terry Tumey describes Gould as “a perfect fit for UC Davis.” He praised Gould’s “ability…to invest fully in students on the field of play, in the classroom, in their lives.”

Ron Gould at a December 2012 news conference introducing him as the UC Davis Aggie's new head football coach.

UC Davis will usher in the Ron Gould era on Aug. 31 when the Aggies travel to the University of South Dakota for the season opener. The first home game will be Sept. 14 against Northern Arizona University.

After his first few months on the job, the first-time head coach was already impressed with the UC Davis community. “It’s been surreal,” said Gould. “Every day I get to come in and meet with the staff. It’s a partnership. I meet with the players. Just to be in this community, it’s just been unbelievable. Everyone has been so warm and accepting. Every day has just been a blessing.”

Golden Bears

Gould earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology in 1988 from the University of Oregon, where he played defensive back for two seasons and later worked with the Ducks as a graduate assistant (1990–91). (Looking way ahead, the Aggies and the Ducks have scheduled a preseason game Sept. 3, 2016.)

From Oregon he went to Portland State (assistant, 1993–96) and then Cal. He was a candidate for the 2010 American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year Award and has served internships with six NFL teams, including the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

Many of Cal’s top all-time rushers thrived under his tutelage, including current NFL players Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks), Jahvid Best (Detroit Lions), Shane Vereen (New England Patriots), Justin Forsett (Houston Texans) and Will Ta’ufo’ou (Jacksonville Jaguars). Lynch was a strong candidate for the 2004 Heisman Trophy after rushing for 2,018 yards, the same season the Bears averaged 256.8 yards per game on the ground. It was the school’s most prolific rushing attack in more than a half-century.

Gould has brought some Bears with him. Matt Wiegand (offensive line), Bert Watts (defensive coordinator) and Ben Steele (tight ends, recruiting coordinator) were on the coaching staff at Cal in recent seasons, while UC Davis alum Kevin Daft ’98 also was an assistant with the Bears before returning to his alma mater last season. Daft will be offensive coordinator. Denis Hallin (director of operations) was also a longtime Cal staffer who joins Gould at UC Davis.

Gould surprised Aggie football players in April, at their third practice of the spring, with a special guest: Best, who talked about the importance of working hard and trying to get just a little bit better every day.

He related a story from his days with the Bears when Gould called him into his office. Best thought he might have done something wrong. Instead, Gould gave him a challenge.

“He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘I’m going to push you and I’m going to test you everyday, no matter what. You can either embrace that or you can fight it,’” Best told the Aggies.

At that day’s practice, Best was joined by former Cal fullback Eric Stevens who is preparing for his own NFL career in the coming months. Stevens is another protégé of Gould’s at Cal.

Recruiting, reaching out

Gould is a tireless recruiter who was challenged with quickly assembling a coaching staff so it could put together a strong recruiting class prior to national letter of intent signing day, Feb. 6. Despite the late start and barely six weeks to get the job done, Gould was happy with the results.

“Overall, we’re very pleased with the class,” he added. “We battled some (Western Athletic Conference) schools and Mountain West schools on a lot of these kids. Anytime you’re able to get those kind of players, we’re heading in the right direction with the program.”

Gould is a believer in bringing smiles to those who might need it the most. In April, the UC Davis football team hosted nearly 60 special needs athletes at a fun and educational flag football clinic at Aggie Stadium. Amid kicking, catching and throwing drills, Gould jumped right in — even showing off his touchdown dance.

The coach said it was a memorable afternoon for everyone involved: “Guys were dancing. They get a chance to be kids. They get a chance to have fun.”

Beyond the gridiron

When not drawing up “x’s and o’s,” Gould loves to spend time whipping up masterpieces in the kitchen or out with his smoker where his BBQ talents have made him many friends. Filet mignon is his specialty: “I marinate it in my sauce for about 36 hours and you can taste every bite.

“Cooking is definitely my outlet. . . . I just don’t like to cook, I love cooking for people.”

He already knows “Aggie Fight,” and he made sure his team did as well, leading them at midcourt during a recent basketball game in singing it with the fans.

Gould’s wife, Teresa, is deputy director of athletics/senior woman administrator at Cal. They are the parents of sons Tevin, 18, and Trae, 14. In a recent tweet, Gould said, “My wife is a rock star! She received the National Administrator of the Year Award in New Orleans!”

Mike Robles is assistant athletics director for Athletics Communications. Clifton Parker is associate editor for UC Davis Magazine, and author of three books on baseball players.