Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cal Coach Jeff Tedford Must Go

It's time.Cal coach Jeff Tedford must go.

It was pretty clear last season that Tedford, with a blizzard of blunders--particularly in the loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl, had lost it. But last Saturday it was never more obvious that Tedford had worn out his welcome. Cal lost 31-24 to a Nevada team that had no business beating the Bears in Berkeley on the day when the school was debuting its fancy, expensively remodeled stadium. Cal has more talent. Cal is a better team. So what happened? Why couldn't Cal win a game it should have won by 2-3 TDs? The answer is simple. Jeff Tedford is the problem.

After examining a disc of the game thoroughly, and rerunning many plays, what I saw, much to my disgust, was a badly coached team--a lot of talent wasted. Players looked listless and out of position. The defense was consistently fooled by Nevada's tricky pistol offense, something Cal should have working to decipher since spring practice. When Nevada was driving for the winning TD late in the fourth quarter, the Bears looked befuddled. It was like the old days, back in the 1990s, in the era of inept coach Tom Holmoe. Back then, when a team was driving against the Bears for a winning TD late in a game, you knew the Bears couldn't--and wouldn't--stop the attack. Against Nevada it was deja vu, that sick feeling, all over again.

Tedford's ace-in-the hole, at one time, was his skill at developing quarterbacks, his resume teeming with No.1 NFL picks like Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Joey Harrington and Kyle Bohler. But since Aaron Rodgers, his best student, left after the 2004 season, Tedford has come up with dud after dud at QB. Joe Ayoob? You gotta be kidding. A Division II talent that didn't belong in the Pac 10.  Nate Longshore? Kevin Riley? These were promising QBs but they were wildly inconsistent and never blossomed past the average level. Quality coaching would have helped. But they didn't get it.

The latest disaster at QB is Zach Maynard, who keeps making boneheaded decision after boneheaded decision. Excitable and error-prone, he's just modestly talented, a little guy with a pop-gun arm. Most of the QBs in the Pac12 are superior. Why couldn't the Bears come up with a better prospect? Why isn't Maynard playing at a higher level? Again, blame Tedford.

Though he, surprisingly, hasn't been able to come up with top-notch QB prospects, he has been a good recruiter at all the other positions. Cal has sent many players to the NFL, almost as many as USC. But has Tedford translated that talent into many 9-and-10-win seasons? Absolutely not.

This season is already shaping up as a lost cause. An ugly 1-4 start is looming. Assuming Cal can beat Saturday's Podunk U foe (Southern Utah), they have to face Ohio State and USC. If they can't beat Nevada in Berkeley what chance do they have against two traditional powers on the road? Looking like a lower-level Pac12 team, Cal is going to struggle to reach .500 and get to a bowl. 

Early last decade, when the Cal program was in the graveyard, coming off a 1-10 season in 2001, Tedford was the savior. In the middle of that decade, the program was still promising. But, since Cal missed out on climbing a notch to No. 1 in the polls in 2007, when a goof by novice QB Kevin Riley blew the Oregon State game, Cal has been on the decline. The Tedford of those early years has been MIA.

But AD Sandy Barbour is unlikely to do the right thing, which is to dump Tedford and bring in someone who can infuse some life into the program. Even if Cal finished under .500 this season, which is possible, Barbour probably wouldn't fire him.

So us Cal fans are probably stuck with this lousy coach for another season or two.