Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jeff Tedford: No longer disappointing since 2007

It's over for Jeff Tedford:
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Coach Jeff Tedford was fired on Tuesday after 11 seasons at California that began with great promise and ended with a disappointing run of mediocrity.

The decision was announced by athletic director Sandy Barbour at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
File this in the "not as blatantly obvious as Joker Phillips/Derek Dooley but still not surprising" coach-firings category. The news leaked last week that Tedford was gonna meet with Barbour the day after the season, and that meeting looked accordingly more ominous after Cal got obliterated by Oregon State 62-14 to finish the year 3-9 (easily Cal's worst record since going 1-11 the year before Tedford took over).

But here's the thing: Tedford didn't get fired because Cal went 3-9 this year (although that was the anvil that broke the camel's everything); Tedford got fired because Cal hasn't been anything better than a slightly-above-average program since 2006 and has clearly regressed over the last several years.

I posted this tidbit the other day ...
After a bright start to his tenure with seven wins his first year, a school record-tying 10 wins in 2004 and a share of the conference title in 2006, things began falling off the rails during what started as a promising 2007 campaign.

The Bears won their first five games that season and were poised to move into the top spot in the AP poll before losing at home to Oregon State. Starting with that loss, Tedford has a 34-36 mark over his last 70 games.
... and reacted like so:
Cal was a legit national title contender six years ago yet has been a collectively sub-.500 program ever since and is headed for 3-9 this year. Wha happen? Better question: Why has Jeff Tedford been unable to produce a decent quarterback in that time? Considering what Clancy Pendergast has done with the defense, the lack of production at quarterback is what will ultimately be his downfall (assuming he has one), as Cal hasn't finished higher than 64th nationally in pass efficiency or 44th in total offense in any of the last five years. Explain, plz.
Yup. Cal's offense has been legitimately bad (by BCS-conference standards) for six straight years, during which time the program's collective record has been 39-37 and the conference record has been 23-31. The talent hasn't been an issue (just look at the running backs and total number of players Cal has sent to the NFL in that time ); the quarterback play has been, and that doesn't really make sense seeing as how Jeff Tedford is Jeff Tedford.

It's probably worth noting that the 2008 season was when Tedford gave up at least some of the playcalling duties and hired Frank Cignetti as O-coordinator, although he reportedly got more involved the last couple years minus Cignetti (obviously with less-than-spectacular results). Basically, everything Tedford has tried to do with the passing game since '07 has been a bust. I have no idea what happened, but the Jeff Tedford who's running things now obviously isn't the Jeff Tedford who made first-round picks out of David Carr and Akili Smith and Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller (?!?), hence two losing seasons in three years and a sub-.500 record over the last five and a half years. Some context has to be included when citing his 82-57 overall record.

Granted, Cal isn't an optimal place to win right now what with Stanford being really good and Oregon being basically unbeatable. Still, expecting something better than .500 isn't unreasonable, especially after seeing Tedford do it from 2004-06, when Cal went 28-9 and got within one fourth-down incompletion by Aaron Rodgers of playing for a national title (USC rabble rabble). Or maybe Cal is just regressing to the Cal mean; I dunno. I guess that's to be determined.

As for who will determine it ... ummm ... there are guys. According to Matt Hayes, Charlie Strong has wanted the job ever since interviewing for it way back in the day; he's a slightly more viable candidate now than he was 11 years ago, but that probably makes it less likely that he actually ends up at Cal. The other options out there are probably of the non-household-name variety: Sonny Dykes will probably get an interview if he doesn't end up Tennessee/Arkansas/wherever, and San Jose State coach Mark McIntyre would make some sense given the massive resurrection job he's done at a crappy school less than an hour from Berkeley.

The San Jose Mercury News has a couple other names that seem reasonable, too: Utah State coach Gary Andersen, Bengals secondary coach (and former Cal O-coordinator) Hue Jackson and Panthers coach (and former Cal linebacker) Ron Rivera, who's probably 50/50 to get fired at the end of the year, although the timeframe might make that one unnecessarily complicated.

I don't see any totally obvious "OMG HIRE THAT GUY" guys, though, and that seems ... I dunno ... surprising? Cal's at worst an average program with a lot of money in one of the most desirable locales in the country; yeah, the Oregon/Stanford thing and the academics, but still. There are good things that are good and therefore desirable for somebody; the question is whether that somebody is somebody who will be good/better than Jeff Tedford.


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