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Should Jeff Tedford Return to California in 2013?


Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach (overall victories) in California football history. However, the program has been in a backslide over the last few seasons, going 5-7 in 2010 and 7-6 in 2011. The Golden Bears have played a difficult schedule in 2012 but another losing season won't sit well in Berkeley. 

Should Jeff Tedford Return to California in 2013?

Kyle Kensing (@Kensing45),
Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach in Cal history, with just a single losing campaign in his tenure. He’s also the highest paid state employee in an economically turbulent California, and last month the university christened Memorial Stadium after its controversial $321 million renovation. Losing that first game in the revamped facility cast an ominous shadow. Cal made Rose Bowl-quality investments for Sun Bowl-level returns.

At 3-5 and with Oregon and Oregon State still to come, Tedford may be a lame duck. But consider this: he’s won 82 games in his 10½ seasons as Cal’s head coach, the same amount the five head coaches prior to him from 1983 through 2001 compiled. Aside from Bruce Snyder and Pappy Waldorf, he’s the only post-War era Golden Bear coach to reach multiple bowl games. Unlike Snyder, Tedford never bolted for green pastures elsewhere in the Pac; unlike Waldorf, Tedford won a postseason game. So the $6.9 million (amount Cal would owe Tedford should it cut ties with him) question is, who can the university brass attract that will be more successful?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
The expectations are higher at Cal than they’ve ever been. But the reason they’re higher is because Tedford has raised them over the past decade. That's quite the conundrum.  But look at it this way: If Tedford left when he was in high demand after the 2006 season, and his replacement went 41-33 overall and 22-27 in conference as Cal has the last six seasons, the replacement probably wouldn’t coach an extra year. Cal was ranked as high as No. 2 in 2007 but hasn’t made an appearance in the polls since 2009. The administration, despite its own struggles with cash, has followed through with facility upgrades, but the Bears are headed to their third consecutive losing season within conference play. Meanwhile, the majority of the Pac-12 seems to be on the upswing. Cal’s going to be hard-pressed to keep up, but right now, its coach is just treading water.

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Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Jeff Tedford’s tenure at Cal is developing into one of the most complex and intriguing in the nation. He has coached more games than any head coach in Cal history (127), he has won more games than any coach in Cal history (79),, has had one losing season in a decade on the job and earned the school’s first conference championship (2006) since 1975. Additionally, he has accounted for eight of the program’s 21 bowl appearances and five of the program’s 10 bowl wins. And the NFL is littered with elite Tedford superstars — Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Desmond Bishop, DeSean Jackson, Thomas DeCoud and Alex Mack to name a few.
Yet, the program has gotten stale while the rest of the Pac-12 has seemingly improved across the board. His record is 15-17 over the last two-and-a-half seasons and hasn’t had a 10-win season since the league co-championship in 2006. Cal still has to face both Oregon schools, Utah and Washington. A 2-2 mark the rest of the way in 2012 means his second losing season in three years and a parting of the ways in Berkeley.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
How quickly things can change. Jeff Tedford was previously one of the hottest coaching candidates in college football and now heads into the final games of 2012 fighting for his job. After going 25-13 in his first three seasons at California, Tedford appeared poised to move up the coaching ladder. However, his last three full years have resulted in a 20-18 record, and the Golden Bears are off to a disappointing 3-5 start. Although Tedford has an 82-53 overall record during his tenure at California, it’s probably time for a coaching change in Berkeley. The Golden Bears seemed to have peaked and have been passed in the Pac-12 pecking order by Stanford, and Washington is capable of closing the gap with Steve Sarkisian as head coach. There’s not a ton of candidates that make sense for California, but this program could use an infusion of energy. Tedford can win a lot of games at another school, but sometimes a coaching tenure runs its course and it’s time for a change. Barring a four-game winning streak to end the season, I think California will have a new head coach going into 2013. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
I think it’s time for a change. Tedford has no doubt done a tremendous job in Berkeley, but things have gotten a bit stale. The Golden Bears, 3–5 overall in 2012, have now lost at least five games in five of the past six seasons. Tedford built Cal into an upper-echelon Pac-12 program in the mid-2000s, but the Bears have slipped down a few notches on the league’s food chain in recent years. It hasn’t helped that Cal’s chief rival, Stanford, won 12 games in 2010 and 11 games last fall. I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect Cal to contend for the Pac-12 title on an annual basis, but the program should be more relevant, both in the league and nationally. I’d be reluctant to call this a firing — it doesn’t feel right to fire a guy who is 82–53 overall and 50–41 in league play. It just seems like the time is right for a mutual parting of ways.

Mark Ross:
It's still possible for Tedford to get his team to a bowl game, but it won't be easy. The Golden Bears have four Pac-12 games left, and while the first two (at Utah, home against Washington) appear winnable, ending the regular season with games against the two Oregon schools will be a tough challenge. If Tedford can somehow find a way to lead his team to a 3-1 finish, it will secure a ninth bowl bid in his 11 years at the helm in Berkeley. With that type of sustained success, if you will, I think it would be hard for the powers that be to not bring him back for at least one more season. However, should the Bears finish 2-2 or worse and miss out on the postseason, then the timing could be right for a change of direction and leadership for the Golden Bears program.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
It’s difficult for Cal fans to see a solid era of Golden Bears football fading, but that is the case in Tedford’s 11th season. We all know how the veteran coach rescued a depressed program under Tom Holmoe and went 43-20 during his first five years. The momentum has shifted in Strawberry Canyon, however, as Cal has gone 36-28 over the last five seasons including a missing bowl game in 2010. That declining record precedes a 3-5 start to this season, one where the Bears are in jeopardy of missing another postseason. Tedford is a solid football mind, but his program has regressed recently. Losing top recruiter Tosh Lupoi — someone who defines Cal football — in a lateral move to Washington this offseason was an ominous sign of where the program is headed, and losing to Stanford three years in a row and four out of the last six seasons doesn’t help either. It may be time for a fresh voice at Cal, but it is difficult to see anyone having the impact that Tedford has had on the Golden Bears program.

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