BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Bakersfield College football will have a new home this season.
No, it isn't leaving Memorial Stadium. The Renegades are simply switching sidelines.
BC athletic director Ryan Beckwith said the move is strictly in the best interest of the team. The team's sideline will now be on the east (Mount Vernon Avenue) side of the field, the press box side.
The switch has its detractors. Beckwith said a small number of BC season ticketholders are grumbling about the change.
"A few are unhappy because they want to sit behind the team but they don't want to move sidelines or move to the other side of the stadium," Beckwith said.
But the move will benefit BC's football team, and that's the most important thing, Beckwith said.
There are several reasons for the move:
* The first down marker chains, line of scrimmage marker and sideline referee are always on the side opposite the press box, so scoreboard operators and PA announcers can have better views of those parts of the game.
"The people running the chains get in front of the coaches and it becomes annoying," Beckwith said. "Players are always getting pushed off the sidelines. Coaches are trying to call timeouts and put in substitutions and you don't need those (chain holders) people in the way.
"At home, that's shouldn't happen. If you're on the road and you have to deal with that type of stuff, well, that's part of it."
Having the team on the press box side of the field more easily allows assistant coaches who are in the press box to come to the sidelines to talk with players when needed.
"If your team's on the opposite side, by the time you get down there the possession's changed," Beckwith said.
* Communication between BC's coaches on the sidelines and in the press box has been a problem, Beckwith said, because the distance is so great it affects the performance of head sets.
"Because our stadium is so old, the wireless technology doesn't reach when we're on the far sideline," Beckwith said. "On three of the five games last year, our headsets didn't work."
Moving to the east side of the stadium puts the sideline coaches and press box coaches 50 yards closer.
* BC's signal-calling is more vulnerable to be stolen by opponents with BC on the west side of the field because all games are videotaped from the press box roof, giving sharp-eyed opponents clear view of BC's hand signals during film study.
"The signs are not stolen, we're giving them away," Beckwith said. "It's definitely something coaches have noticed in the past.
"We're required to switch films and trade films with people. Our filming is done from the top of the press box, looking down, and all of our hand signals, all of our substitutions, everything we're doing is on film.
"So not only are they able to study what we're doing on the field, how we play and what scheme we're running, but they can see how we signal it in.
"It's another one of those things. Again, if you're at home, you should have the privacy of your signals. That should not be an issue."
Beckwith said he is trying to work with the fans who have issues with the switch.
"It's a low percentage, but what are you going to do? You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. ...
"We know this is difficult and it's not ideal for some people. We're not asking you to move seats. If you would like to we will try to find your mirrored seat on the other side.
"We're doing what we can to fix the problem. We don't want to lose our fans, but at the same time you would hope fans would support things that help your team."
Beckwith said some fans have agreed to move their seats to the other side of the stadium. He added that he hasn't heard of anyone discontinuing their season tickets over this issue.
New coaches join staff
BC coach Jeff Chudy has announced the addition of five new assistant coaches for this season's coaching staff, and four are former Renegade players.
Chad Grider, son of former head coach Dallas Grider and the former head coach at West High, will coach the defensive line. Corey Actis, an All-American center at BC before playing at Mississippi, will oversee the interior offensive line. Ryan Ybarra, a former BC defensive back, will assist James McGill in coaching the secondary; former BC kicker Will Mahan will assist kicking coach Lorenzo Alvarez. Ryan Skidmore, a former East High standout who completed his football career at Fresno State last season, will coach the tight ends.
Norm Stanley, Curtis Cornelson and Chad Hathaway were assistants last season who have left the BC coaching staff.
More music for BC games
BC athletic director Ryan Beckwith said music will be emphasized during Renegade football games this season.
A DJ will play music before games and during halftime and the stereo sound system unveiled next year with large speakers placed in front of the stands on both sides of the stadium will return.
"We're working with JACK FM, 97.3 for our music," Beckwith said.
Details are being worked out for a possible "battle of the bands" among local high schools during halftime of home games.
Beckwith said a pre-game barbecue is planned for each home game. The barbecue will be held on the practice field, just south of Memorial Stadium. Beckwith said that will be patterned after similar events held at many Division I programs.
"It's something we're trying to do, bring a D-1 atmosphere here," he said. "I'm not re-inventing the wheel. I was at Georgia. I was at UCLA. We've got coaches here who have been at different places. We're just implementing these things now. We're throwing them out there."
"Ultimately, football is about entertainment. It's about having fun, having a cool family atmosphere to go out and hang out on a Saturday night. A cheap, fun place to hang out."