Time to replace Cal’s football coach?

Cal’s football team began the year with a No. 6 national ranking and hopes of going to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 50 years. The Golden Bears ended with a loss to Utah on Wednesday in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Cal has had top talent – Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson, Jahvid Best.

But Coach Jeff Tedford seems more wrapped up in “Xs and Os” than being a head coach.

The play calling is inconsistent, the team is not fired up and his ballyhooed genius as a quarterback coach has not materialized.

Tedford’s had the chance: He’s been coach since 2002. Along the way, Cal’s program has been eclipsed by other Pac-10 teams in the “middle of the pack.” Stanford appears to be the next one.

To be sure, Tedford is a class act, a good recruiter and has led the team to a series of post-season bowl games as a first-time head coach. You won’t find a nicer guy.

Tedford’s predecessor, Tom Holmoe, resigned after the team went 1-10, its worst record in history.

Tedford’s also suffered through plans to modernize the stadium, when people camped out in a tree, stalling the project. That’s not his fault, and a musty old workout facility doesn’t help recruiting much.

Tedford might be better suited for the pros, just as USC’s Pete Carroll was better as a college coach.

But there’s a lot of coaching talent out there. You get at least $1.5 million annually for the job, too.

It’s probably time to bite the bullet and start looking for a replacement.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

5 thoughts on “Time to replace Cal’s football coach?”

  1. I agree. A replacement head coach is needed. The game had such a promising start with both the offense and defense scoring TD’s early on. After that it seemed the Bears took on the role of Aesop’s hare. No spark, no drive and no hope.

    Let’s hope the Cardinal can bring back some Nor-Cal college football respect with a win over the Okie’s at the Sun Bowl. Go Indians!

  2. I totally disagree with any perspective of relacing Jeff Tedford. Who would throw out a coach that is on the cusp of being the winningest in Cal history, who wins 2 games for every 1 lost? College football is about only 12 encounters per season, tests if you will. In the meantime, the coach needs to motivate coaching staffs, work recruiting, work with players, etc. This is the second time in his few years that Jeff has been challenged by a seemingly underperforming “team”.

    And is there anyone out there who would rather roll the dice with a new guy? would that be some other coach in FSB that has a proven track record? would that be a “new to head coaching guy”? some former assistant, now promoted? Tedford “gets” Cal in a way few if any predecessors have. So in these few years, Jeff has put Cal on the national map annually. And the thanks we offer is “that’s not enough”?

    The easy work apparently is taking a losing program to a winning program in a couple of years. It’s done around college football a lot. The challenge is sustaining that and creating a champion. That’s a challenge. Cal has now achieved the sustainability part. The next phase may take a few more years. Ask Mike Montgomery how it’s done, and be prepared should he not get Cal to the final four, in some narrow number of seasons to off load him, too!

    If I’m Sandy, I’m thanking Jeff for the new national presence of Cal football. If I’m the University, I’m thanking Jeff for all the times the “what do you see – UC Berkeley” promo is aired on TV. I’m really disappointed that so many fans have such a seemingly singular definition of success – Rose Bowl. Do we forget that we play in the same conference as USC and a bunch of other quality programs (not teams, programs). SC has for a good number of years owned the Rose Bowl? Do we forget we were co-champions only a couple of years ago – with USC? Do we forget that because of all this success, we drove protesters out of trees and have now raised a truckload of money to rejuvenate facilities that will benefit all the athletes? We’re watching the rebirth of Cal football and two generations of students now see Cal as a football powerhouse.

    I’m happy to be counted as a guy who thinks Jeff still has growing to do. I’m dead certain, the leader of that group is Jeff Tedford, himself. Next we’ll be advocating that we dump professors that don’t get Nobel prizes quickly enough?

  3. Tom,
    Thanks. But you didn’t address how Cal has regressed in the past two years, Tedford’s inability to fire up the team or how many games will be televised nationally next year based on this year’s dismal finish. Plain and simple, the team has been out-coached. At the same time, the Stanford, Oregon St. and Arizona programs are on the upswing. Oregon, which used to be Cal’s supposed “peer,” has leap-froged ahead. We’re going into year eight now under Tedford. Time to look in the mirror and analyze whether he has the right skill set to be a head coach of a Rose Bowl team. Cal hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl in half a century. You’re right: Tedford will probably just let go of some assistant coaches, Sandy will provide some restrained praise and the “hot seat” talk will die down. But leadership begins at the top. Who’s going to coach him? To me, Tedford is more of an “Xs and Os” guy and less of a guy who can inspire college-aged athletes who are four-year freshmen but also come from JCs, an eclectic mix. Tedford’s QB acumen has been vastly over-rated. He’s sure a big improvement over most predecessors and a heck of a nice guy, to be sure. But he’s no Pappy Waldorf (who also had a nine-year tenure at Cal). I think Tedford would do better in the pros – the exact opposite of a guy like Pete Carroll.

  4. Jeff,
    So Charlie Weiss was an improvement at ND? Now he’s just a 5 year delay of the future success? Of course other programs will get better. Don’t you think it’s “facilities” that make Oregon’s recruiting? Does Jeff have challenges? Of course. Is that reason to move him out? not without some very, very serious understanding of the shortcomings. To say that he fails the “motivation” test is so incredibly subjective, it’s barely even fathomable. I’m not willing to throw Jeff under the bus because he has not produced a Rose Bowl, nor because we lost to Oregon this year. Remember we beat them the prior three I believe.

    I would think that after the facilities are done, it’s worth looking at the entire body of work, not just the 8-5 season. Jeff is the one responsible for the new construction and as such, I think it is not asking too much of our Alumni to be patient enough to see what may get even better when those facilities are in place. There is so, so, so much Jeff does right. To hold him to a Conference championship/National Championship standard is a bit ridiculous considering that from 1980 to 2000 we all were happy with a .500 record and beating Stanford. We’re now 6 and 1 against Stanford and have been to 7 consecutive bowl games I think. And we’re disastisfied?

    There is a statement we always repeated in the Marching Band, “remember who you are and what you represent”. We can be Notre Dame or we can invest in people in whom we believe. Maybe they produce nobel prizes. maybe they produce winning season after winning season. I’m not at the point where trading Jeff for the roll of the dice sounds like a better option. And most certainly not immediately following a loss in a bowl game.

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