What has long been speculated was finally made official on Tuesday with California’s firing of Jeff Tedford, the school’s all-time winningest coach, only days after the team played its final game of the season.
“This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, one that required a thorough and thoughtful analysis of a complex set of factors,” Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said. “Ultimately, I believed that we needed a change in direction to get our program back on the right track.”
He spent 11 seasons at the helm of the Golden Bears, taking over a one-win team in 2001 and engineering an impressive turnaround, not only in the win-loss column, but in the culture of how the game was perceived on campus and by the school’s administration.
Tedford compiled a school-record 82 wins, but the lasting impression he will have on the program is a facilities upgrade, highlighted by a $321 million stadium renovation, that he helped to spearhead.
He had a lot of success early on in his time with Cal, including back-to-back 10-win seasons and a share of the Pac-12 conference crown in 2006. However, his team had been in a downturn in recent years after Tedford had established himself as somewhat of a quarterback’s guru. As an assistant at Oregon, he helped nuture the game of Joey Harrington, and while at Cal he cultivated the development of both Kyle Boller and the program’s crown jewel, Aaron Rodgers.
That downturn transformed into a full-fledged bottoming-out in 2012, highlighted by late-season debacles at the hands of Oregon (a 59-17 home blowout) and Oregon State (a 62-14 road defeat to close out the season).
[Cal ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12 Stock Report]
Tedford may have piled up those 82 wins, but in his last five-plus seasons, his record was a very pedestrian 34-37.
After Rodgers left following the 2004 season, Tedford would be unable to find another great quarterback to pair with such talented recruits as DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, and he was thus never able to get the Bears to their first Rose Bowl since the 1958 season.
Getting back to 2012, however, Tedford’s graduation rate of 47-percent is the lowest in the Pac-12, and now the man who helped build the team up from next-to-nothing leaves with a black cloud hanging over the way he went about the business of running the program.
He is still owed $6.9 million over the last three years of his contract, so whatever embarrassment he feels over the losses and the pathetic graduation rate may be mollified with a series of big, fat checks.
However, all the checks he helped the school score from boosters in order to fund the massive modernization efforts of the athletic department will be to the benefit of Tedford’s successor, not himself.
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