Tedford

Cal faces long road back, with or without Tedford

They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and that’s certainly going to be a long-lasting truth for the California Golden Bears football program.

Head coach Jeff Tedford is expected to sit down with athletic director Sandy Barbour as early as Sunday, when many suspect he will be handed his walking papers in the form of a hefty $6.9M buyout. A costly decision to be sure, but the team doesn’t have another option at this point. Its future depends on it.

Future, in this respect, doesn’t mean the 2013 season. It may not mean the 2014 season for that matter; the positive effects of letting Tedford walk probably won’t be felt until long after he is gone.

Collegiate sports are a unique breed in that one year’s recruiting class may have little impact immediately, but it can make or break a team’s outlook for nearly a half of a decade. Sure, NFL draft picks can take some time to develop into a talented core, but more and more we are seeing very little drop off in athleticism and gamespeed from NCAA football to the pros. Players like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III can improve an offense. Talents like Aldon Smith or Von Miller turn a defense from porous to scary. Rookies can step in and immediately change the complexion of a franchise.

It’s not like that in Division-I football. High school players simply take longer to develop. A fresh class of recruits can’t be expected to outperform college juniors and seniors right away, especially in a conference as competitive as the PAC-12. Cal’s future draft classes will take time to form into a squad of solid players, and that’s why the program should waste no time making this change.

The cabinet is basically empty for the Bears. They can’t compete with the Ducks, Cardinal or Trojans to begin with; take away talent like Keenan Allen, who will surely go pro this year, and the idea of playing those teams next year is daunting. The trainwreck was well on its way for the Bears even before the stadium renovations, but the belief among the most optimistic Cal fans was new facilities would be enough to lure the nation’s top talent to come to Berkeley. Tedford would successfully rebuild the team and all would be well.

This year went worse than anyone expected. Much worse. It wasn’t all on Tedford — injuries and tough luck followed the Bears at nearly every turn. However, poor execution and inconsistent effort were also evident throughout the 2012 season. As unavoidable as the aforementioned circumstances may have been, the latter can be just as easily be solved by new leadership — provided Cal chooses the correct leader.

There is an undeniable truth about this team now, perhaps the only positive to draw from this season. It’s that change is imminent, and the choice to remove Tedford isn’t even a choice anymore — it’s a mandate. The writing was on the wall when Tosh Lupoi left Cal and took several 2012 recruits to Seattle with him. Recruits who knew full well that new facilities were coming but didn’t care because they knew that success was not. They knew their best shot to play football in college and beyond was going to be somewhere other than Cal.

If those recruits are any indication, none of the 2013 recruits will be swayed by Tedford either, even if the creativity of the facilities’ designs or the program’s recruiting tactics belie the onfield plan for success. This is why Tedford must go: there are too many options in the Pac-12 — from Eugene to Corvallis to Palo Alto or Los Angeles — for any high school blue-chipper to want to play for Tedford’s Bears.

The team’s season finale at Oregon State is Saturday, and their chances look bleak without quarterback Zach Maynard, wide receiver Keenan Allen and tackle Matt Summers-Gavin. But then, their chances looked bleak with them. By all appearances, the Bears stopped playing after their loss to Stanford. Can you blame them? The only things left to play for were pride and Tedford’s job.

The aftermath of his downfall will stretch beyond next season, which means that more losing is probably on its way. But the rebuilding process starts when the program looks for a whole new beginning, and that search should begin on Sunday.

Published by

Kyle McLorg

Kyle McLorg (formerly Ruthless Sports Guy) is a Candlestick Kid, and that passion shines through in his writing now. When he's not picking apart the 49ers, Sharks and Giants, you can find him trying to keep his dog (half-wolf) out of trouble at the dog park. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_McLorgBASG.

31 comments
John Sports
John Sports

This sucks, just heard on the Game that Tedford was let go...Let the search begin...Then in a few Years the search will begin again.

Slam
Slam

The Drive radio show reporting "Jeff Tedford has been let go " Stan was WRONG ( I was too )

Slam
Slam

from @RGBearTerritory at 9:40am today : " Mandatory #Cal football team meeting at 10am. Sports Info Director called into 9:30am meeting beforehand "

Stan
Stan

That pic of Tedford?..like he just got busted knowing Jill Kelly or Paula Broadwell.

Slam
Slam

From Oakland Tribune columnist Jon Wilner on Twitter this morning : " Have talked to multiple sources in past 24 hrs ... my guess is Tedford will be back at Cal next season " I hate it when Stan's right !!!!!

Slam
Slam

There was a players-only team meeting scheduled for 5pm yesterday ( Sunday ) that was mysteriously called-off; re-scheduled for today. Read between the lines: Sandy Barbour is trying to spin a way to keep Tedford and keep herself from getting fired. Or Tedford'd replacement backed-out .... If she was going to fire him, yesterday woulda been a slam dunk. He stays.

Mike B
Mike B

This from Carl Steward's column in the Oakland Trip today: "- How ironic that Jeff Tedford's Cal swan song could be against Oregon State, which went 3-9 last year and didn't even seriously consider firing its longtime coach, Mike Riley." "-Tedford (82-56) has a better record than Riley (79-65), has more winning seasons (nine to seven) and has taken his team to more bowls (eight to six). Moral? It is utterly ridiculous Cal is contemplating firing this man."

Stan
Stan

Even when Cal had the hot shot recruiter..they never signed the hot shot QB. NFL quality receivers,running backs and always a good or better defense. And run by Div 2 level QB's. Even Tedford himself got stale with the play calling..fakes?reverses? bombs?..almost never the last three years. I can't see letting it all fall apart. Give him another season of confidence-he gets a quality QB,then everybody's happy again. Stanford does it,Cal can do it.

Gene C
Gene C

100% disagree with the possibility of next year. Cal's defense will be loaded next year. LBs like Scarlett,McCain, Forbes are all coming back. Add in Penn State transfer Fortt, Wilkerson from injury, Whiteside too. the secondary returns pretty much everybody. And the DL should be improved. On offense there will be talent galore, Bigelow, Harper, Treggs, Powe, Rogers. There are highly regarded QBs on the bench. Bring in a good coach and you can see a UCLA like turnaround. Did you do your research? To say the cupboard is bare is inaccurate if you look at previous recruiting classes. Various recruiting services graded the last classes all in top 25. I"m sure many a potential coach will look at the Cal situation and see the potential for a quick turnaround. Even an analyst at ESPN mentioned Cal as place where success can be achieved quickly.

adrian reynolds
adrian reynolds

I'm not an expert on the Cal Bears and candidates to replace Tedford, but at least a paragraph on some possible names would have given this article a stronger finish. Otherwise I agree Tedford should go.

aaron smith
aaron smith

As a proud Cal student suffering the strenuous academic rigors that UCB offers, I'm extremely disgusted with how our football graduation rate is the lowest in the pac12 over the past 6 years. I mean come on, lower than USC.

Slam
Slam

Sandy Barbour firing Tedford and handing him a $7 mill check is a political hot potato because the UC regents are under pressure to not waste money. Don't be suprised if Tedford keeps his job but Dean Wormer puts him on double secret probation

JZ
JZ

Is there anyway where Cal opens up the pocketbooks just slightly wider, AND brings Tedford another assistant that is a top notch recruiter. Maybe someone that can tap the recruiting flow in SEC-heavy places or even the Northeast. In the long run, I just DON'T see how eating 7 million in salary with a cash-strapped athletic department can be beneficial over the alternative.. I just don't.

Pat
Pat

While they won't compete with Oregon and SC when it comes to talent, Cal has wasted plenty of talent under the Tedford ranks. With a big exception at quarterback, the recruiting has been fine (a lot of NFL talent has come through the ranks). The coaching has been awful.

John Sports
John Sports

What a sad slow downward spiral for the Bears. But if anyone thinks getting rid of Tedford will help, just think how bad they were before him. I personally think things will (sadly) get allot worse before they get better.

ReggieWrite
ReggieWrite

Don't worry, Stan was wrong again. Tedford just fired.

ReggieWrite
ReggieWrite

Stan, are you predicting Tedford will get another year or be fired?

Slam
Slam

Gene you nailed it. Next year's roster is loaded with quality starters, and with the new stadium and "athletic performance center" completed, recruiting will be that much better.

Slam
Slam

The grad rate is disturbing, BUT private schools like USC can let a linebacker major in basketweaving or youth sports coaching, and make sure they "graduate" ( with zero job skills ) while a school like Berkeley has to conform to UC protocols/rules/regulations. But you're right, Berkeley's numbers are embarrasing, and Tedford has to accept some of the blame for it

Pat
Pat

You're right about this coming down to money, however, there are a lot of big-wig donors who will refuse to give money to the school as long as Tedford is head coach. Also, a new coach will also increase ticket sales/exposure, which will obviously mean more revenue. It's not as simple as eating $6.9 million. It's how much more money will they make by bringing in someone new, and will that be enough to offset the $6.9 million and the new coach's salary over the next three years.

Pat
Pat

Tedford had a top-notch recruiter (Lupoi) and wasn't successful

Stan
Stan

I think he gets another year. If it was the pro's? he would be a goner for sure. The team not only loses..they lose badly. But Cal eat that huge contract? Keeping him saves eating his 6 mill and then the cost of a new coach. Its the price Cal pays for wanting to be Bama..a big ticket coach. Tedford just went downhill fast after he got the check. NOW..IF his contract has a affordable buyout..he's gone. But full value?..Berkeley's Ed staff would scream bloody murder.

Slam
Slam

OK Stan WHO CAN SEE INTO THE FUTURE - Tell me how much Alabama spends a yr on football compared to Cal, then tell me how many BCS Bowl Games Bama and Cal have each been in the last 25 yrs ... and you're gonna tell me Cal is on the same level as Bama ? You're clueless. Cal couldn't carry Bama's gym bag, you moron

ReggieWrite
ReggieWrite

Sorry Stan, you were wrong. Tedford was just fired!

Stan
Stan

Seeing into the near future isn't as much fun as it sounds.

Stan
Stan

As resident genius,let me point out my post as time stamped. THEN let me say to all...60minutes last night did a story on big time college football..what two teams were mentioned? Cal and its 300 million dollar football complex and ...'BAMA as a huge moneymaker. AND the high cost of coaches. Man,I don't know how I do it. Well,I do know,the less I believe in Raddy,the better I do!

Slam
Slam

"It's the price Cal pays for wanting to be "Bama" ? Stan - Cal DOESN'T want to be Bama; if they did they'd pay Tedford that blood money so fast it would make your head spin. No, they want to be Cal; you know, zero Rose Bowl's in 50 years Cal

Stan
Stan

Unless I read it wrong,it sure don't help when Tedford admits that there aren't any 5 star recruits out there or even many 4 star. When you need a 10 star QB...

ReggieWrite
ReggieWrite

I say he's gone. We'll see who's right.