Profiles In Heroism: Jeff Tedford
|Head Coach, California|
|Offensive Coordinator @ Oregon||1998-2001|
|QB Coach @ Fresno State||1992-1997|
|Offensive Assistant @ Calgary (CFL)||1989-1991|
|Grad Assistant @ Fresno State||1987-1988|
|Six years as a quarterback in the CFL; before that four years at Fresno State.|
Jeff Tedford has been California's coach for the past five years and is entering his sixth with the Bears as a top ten team. This is a remarkable turnaround with a program historically on par with Kentucky, Minnesota, and Iowa State. This Stassen query for the years 1980-2001 demonstrates Cal's historic peers:
75t Indiana 0.42540
75t Kansas 0.42540
80 Missouri 0.40121
81 Cincinnati 0.39549
82 California 0.39474
83 Minnesota 0.39271
84 Kentucky 0.39069
85 New Mexico 0.38627
86 Rutgers 0.38382
87 Iowa State 0.38320
(I would also like to highlight this baby for future reference:
97 Texas Tech 0.32738
) From these ashes, Tedford has wrought near magic. Tom Holmoe left the Cal program in total disarray, going 4-7, 3-8, and 1-10 to close out his tenure there. From this meager straw Tedford spun a 7-5 2002, Cal's first winning season since 1993. He won Pac-10 coach of the year. Two years later he had the Bears at 10-2. Other than Cal's 1991 10-2 season, this was the program's high water mark since the 1950s. Ayoob was not booya the next year and Cal dropped to 8-4 before rebounding to 10-3 a year ago; this year Cal has beaten Tennessee and Colorado State. The Colorado State game was an uncomfortably narrow 34-28 win fueled by two CSU touchdowns scored on reserve defensive backs akin to Michigan's hiccup against Ball State a year ago.
|As UO OC|
Xs and Os Proficiency: Vast on the offensive side of the ball. A former quarterback at Fresno State and in the CFL, Tedford has developed a reputation for developing first-round NFL draft picks at quarterback who subsequently are collosal busts: Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, and Aaron Rodgers were all Tedford-tutored quarterbacks drafted high by the NFL. Dilfer managed to carve out a career as a game manager after imploding spectacularly early in his career. Smith was an epic bust. Harrington and Boller are still playing but have looked awful. Aaron Rodgers will replace Brett Favre when he retires in 2430.
Tedford's remarkable ability to dupe NFL scouts into drafting his system quarterbacks speaks to an offensive scheme that maximizes the abilities of his players. At right, Cal's total offense and scoring offense in the Tedford era year-by year, plus the last two years of his tenure as Oregon's offensive coordinator. (The NCAA does not have data before 2000 available on the internet.) While not quite as dominant as Brett Bielema's numbers as a defensive coordinator, Tedford has turned in offenses somewhere between very good and great every year since 2000 save for his first season with a Cal team that was 1-10 the year before. (Cal's scoring offense that year was bolstered by five touchdowns in the kick return game and the nation's third-best turnover margin.)
Recruiting: (All ratings here are Rivals' for expediency's sake.) This could be something of a concern. Tedford's recruiting at Cal has been JUCO heavy; Michigan takes JUCOs at a rate of about once a decade. Tedford's first class was an ugly assortment of two-stars, but as a first-year coach coming into a disaster of a program that's to be expected. His second year things were better but still not good: mostly three stars with the occasional four mixed in. He did pick up a lightly-regarded athlete named Daymeion Hughes and a JUCO quarterback named Aaron Rodgers, though. 2004 was a major step forward with six four stars, including quarterback Nate Longshore and almost totally shirtless running back Marshawn Lynch, Rivals #28 player in the country. An unhealthy concentration of two-stars dotted the back end of the class, though. In 2005, he picked up some guy named DeSean Jackson -- his first five star -- and cut out most of the two stars. 2006 was similar without a player of Jackson's caliber; last year was a minor step back.
En toto: Tedford was obviously hamstrung by the Cal program's vortex of suck his first few years; since he has picked it up. He still operates under the shadow of USC and, increasingly, UCLA for most California recruits but occasionally nets a major score like Jackson or Lynch. Cal's dismal facilities and lack of instate cachet makes recruiting a tougher go that it presumably would be at Michigan. He's had a couple high profile classes and would probably be able to at least maintain Michigan's current recruiting level.
Potential Catches: Tedford has still not managed to best the USC behemoth, but that's a flimsy criticism at best. More to the point: he may not be able to recruit quite as well without the JUCO option (though I think this also flimsy); he hasn't had defenses commensurate with his offenses, and he's never actually reached a BCS bowl. A disappointing loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl during their 10-2, top ten season, is a disturbing indicator.
Relative Compensation: Tedford makes $1.8 million annually at Cal, approximately 300k more than Lloyd Carr. He also receives a $1 million bonus if he completes the 2008 season with Cal; a $1 million dollar signing bonus must be repaid if he does not complete the 2007 season with the Bears. His buyout is $150k per year if he leaves before the Memorial Stadium renovation starts and $300k afterwards. Tedford contract extends to 2013, so the fee would be $900k or $1.8 million depending on how long the hippies in the trees can halt construction.
Bottom line: Tedford would be expensive. Carr was undercompensated relative to his position and Michigan has the money with an athletic department running millions of dollars in the black every year, so they should be able to make it worth Tedford's while.
Would He Take The Job? Maybe. There were rumblings the past couple years about a potent
ial departure that Cal strove to quash with promises of massive facility upgrades. These have hit a snag -- hippies and all that -- but are still likely on the way. He's a West Coast guy through and through with no connection to the area and may not want to uproot his family when he has a good thing going at Cal. Still, the football environment is far friendlier in Ann Arbor than Berkeley, and the talent level is much higher.
Overall Attractiveness: I reserve the right to change my mind about this pending a review of the other attractive candidates (and the results of the forthcoming season), but Tedford should be the first name on the list*. What he's done at Pac-10 Indiana is staggering. He runs a pro-style offense that would fit Michigan's current talent well (and better than, say, Rich Rodriguez' spread option). He turned Joey Harrington into the third pick in the NFL draft. He's young enough to coach Michigan for 20 years but experienced enough (and in one place) to have built the sort of track record Michigan can be secure in. If he wants it, he should be the guy.
*(assuming that the real pipe dream guys like Meyer, Stoops, etc. are excluded; this list contains only reasonable candidates.)