When Eric Kiesau left Cal after the 2005 season, the choice was a family decision. His return to Berkeley last month was a football decision.
Kiesau, the Bears' wide receivers coach from 2002-05 before moving on to Colorado, was hired back by coach Jeff Tedford on New Year's Eve to be the team's passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach.
Kiesau said he originally left Cal because he had two young children and that the intense culture of Tedford's program wasn't the right fit for his family. Now that his children are older, Kiesau said those factors are no longer a concern and that he's excited to be back in Berkeley.
"My kids were so young that I wanted to be around them," Kiesau said. "It's six years later now, and they're older. They can jump on the bus for the drive to AT&T Park (where Cal will play its home games in 2011) or be around the office. I'm ready to help this offense and help this team win games."
Kiesau has two children -- 13-year-old daughter Tayler, and 7-year old-son Blake, who was born during Kiesau's first stint at Cal. Kiesau acknowledged that the demands on the coaching staff weren't as great under Colorado coach Dan Hawkins as they were under Tedford.
Hawkins was fired in November , but Kiesau could have stayed on as quarterbacks coach under new coach Jon Embree.
"Each coach has his own style, whether it's here or anywhere else," Kiesau said. "Were there differences? Absolutely. But that doesn't make one right and the other wrong. I'm very excited to get back with Jeff again. I love Coach Tedford."
Kiesau said he and Tedford remained on good terms while Kiesau was at Colorado. Originally hired as the wide receivers coach, Kiesau was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Buffaloes in 2009. Kiesau said he regularly texted Tedford for advice once he became offensive coordinator.
"I think people thought I didn't want to grind when I left the first time. That was not the case at all," Kiesau said. "It was a family decision. If people think we left on bad terms, that's a big misconception. I have enormous respect for Jeff. We kept in touch all through the five years."
Kiesau is faced with the task of improving a receiving corps that has been devoid of big plays in recent years. Marvin Jones, Cal's leading receiver last season, will be a senior, and sophomore Keenan Allen appears to be a budding star. But the Bears haven't demonstrated much depth after those two, and it will be up to Kiesau to develop young receivers such as redshirt freshmen Tevin Carter and Kaelin Clay and incoming freshman Maurice Harris.
"One of the things that intrigued me when Jeff called is the roster," Kiesau said. "Keenan Allen, Tevin, Marvin -- the list goes on. I can't wait until Jan. 18 (when the spring semester begins) to put my arm around these guys and get to know them."
As with past bowl games played at AT&T Park, the teams will share the same sideline. But the field will be reconfigured by next season, and teams will be on opposite sidelines for Cal games.