Former Cal football head coach Jeff Tedford spoke with the Mercury News on Thursday, and the coach, often considered the greatest coach in the history of California’s football program, discussed his exit.
One of the key quotes coming from the interview regarded his belief about the decision-making process that would ultimately determine his fate. According to Tedford, Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour, and other higher-ups at Berkeley, had her mind made up before the 30-minute conversation:
“Her decision had been made and there wasn’t really anything I could say,” Tedford said.
Barbour met with Cal’s administration afterward, held a conference call with Tedford and chancellor Robert Birgeneau a day later and gave him her decision.
“It was very cut and dried. No explanations,” he said. “After it was all said and done, I think their minds were made up a couple weeks before.”
Tedford said he doesn’t believe Barbour made the decision on her own. “I think the chancellor had a lot to say about it,” he said.
This may sound like sour grapes from a coach who was, in fact, the most successful coach Cal has had in many decades, but perhaps it’s just honesty.
Tedford was already on the hot seat heading into the 2012 season, so it wasn’t as if a bad season would have been tolerated at Berkeley. Tedford hadn’t earned a winning season in conference play since 2009, and that season, Cal went just 5-4 in Pac-10 play. In his final season, Cal was 3-7 heading into a two-game gauntlet against the Oregon schools, both of which were ranked top-16 in the AP polls.
Of course, things aren’t all bad for Tedford. He recently came back from a ten-day vacation in New Zealand, and is coming back to speculation that USC could pursue Tedford as their offensive coordinator, perhaps a position that’s as attractive as any in the nation at the current moment.
There’s no denying that Tedford single-handedly raised the standards Cal now has for its football team, but he failed to perform in a football culture that stresses the question, “What have you done for me lately?” For now, he’ll just have to deal with being pursued as a top-flight assistant.