Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In Praise of Jeff Tedford

The end was inevitable after what happened on Saturday, but it is sad nonetheless.  I think I'm old enough to qualify now as an "Old Blue," but unlike most of them - I'm thinking in particular of the ones who rain down boos on the field, and leave games early in the third quarter - you won't hear me do anything but praise the tenure of Jeff Tedford.

No, we never made it to the Rose Bowl, and no, we never advanced quite as far as Stanford has in the past couple of years.  But there's no question that Tedford was one of, if not the best, football coaches that Cal has ever had.  And for anyone who remembers the dark, dark days of the Joe Kapp, Keith Gilbertson and Tom Holmoe eras, even a season hovering around .500 was a blessing.  And let's not forget these tidbits, courtesy of the official press statement:

- Under Tedford, Cal compiled an 82-57 from 2002-11.

- Under Tedford, Cal advanced to bowl games eight times (would have been nine, but the team was on probation and ineligible for a bowl in Tedford's first year).

- Tedford won more games than any previous Cal coach, and also owns school records for most bowl wins (5), most games coached (139) and most conference victories (50).

- And perhaps most importantly, Tedford is tied with Pappy Waldorf  for most Big Game wins (7).  Including, I might add, five in a row for the first time in the rivalry's history.

Because this is Cal, the press release makes a big deal about the fact that the team's academic results have fallen in recent years.  So we are treated with this quote from Sandy Barbour:

"Cal football is integral to our department and our university, and its influence can be felt well beyond the walls of Memorial Stadium.  The program clearly serves as an important part of the connective tissue that binds our community together, and it is imperative that Cal football be recognized as a leader in competitive success, academic achievement and community engagement."

Please.  Does anyone really think we'd be reading this announcement if the Bears had gone 10-2 this year?  A more honest statement might have said something along the lines of "we just forked over a small fortune in private bonds to finance the renovation of our stadium, and in order to keep the payments going we need those Old Blues in the stands funneling money to the Alumni Association and elsewhere."

Thank you, Jeff Tedford, for some fun and exciting years at Cal.  May you find success elsewhere.

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