Will Austin Hinder be the next Tedford success story? (HT Solarise for the photo)
I'll admit as much as anyone; we got some real luck on our side this time. Recruiting can be such a crapshoot sometimes, especially for a program like Cal that's been strugging to make it to the top of the conference. You need a few breaks to fall your way, a few big recruits to think outside the box and look at you as a viable option, and occasionally a few uncontrollable events to get good things swinging your way.
And in the case of Jeff Tedford's Golden Bear Class of 2010, that's exactly what happened. daveman explains how a fortunate series of events helped formulate one of the best classes in California football history.
If Charlie Weis doesn’t get fired… AND
Mark Mangino doesn’t get fired…. AND
Jimmy Harbaugh doesn’t decline the Kansas job… AND
Turner Gill doesn’t leave Buffalo for the Kansas job…
We potentially don’t sign:
Chris Martin (5 star)
Keenan Allen (5 star)
Gabe King (4 star)
Chris McCain (4 star)
Zach Maynard (2 star from 2008)
And we’d all be sitting here twiddling our thumbs about how an 8-5 season really killed our recruiting this year and that maybe Tedford should be fired. Oh how the stars had to align for this to break our way today.
On the other hand, I've always believed good karma gets rewarded, and it looks like the Golden Bears have finally received our due. After a few years struggling with a lot of players who didn't pan out and critical depth issues, we're finally getting back on track to the national aspirations Tedford foresaw for us over a half-decade ago. Considering the horrid misfortunes our team has suffered the past decade, I'd say it's about time our luck swung our way.
But it's not all luck. Although we're heaping praise on Tosh Lupoi (who deserves every bit of it), none of what transpired yesterday is possible without Tedford. We're quick to blame our head coach when he fails (myself included), but fail praise him when he succeeds, and this seems like one time where his hard work and straight shooting approach to recruits finally paid dividends.
For most programs, college football is 75% recruiting, 25% coaching, and although Tedford was a master tactician for over a decade and a half, this year he's beginning to show the strategic promise that'll help him compete with the big boys for top talent. If this is the start of the trend of top 15 recruiting classes, it could mean very great things in the years to come. With the SAHPC finally on track to completion and all the stupid distractions of Berkeley no longer an issue, it seems things are coming together.
After the jump, I lay out a few points at how Tedford's consistency can keep us at the top of our recruiting game, and how important his presence will be at taking us to the top of the Pac-10.
Julie Luck (at the 2:20-2:30 mark), former Cal cheerleader and now anchor for the Greensboro local FOX affiliate, couldn't be more pleased with the news about Allen, King, Maynard and McCain.
Continuity: As pointed out by Monte Poole of the San Jose Mercury News a few weeks ago, the stability of Tedford's program provides a great selling point to future recruits. It's hard to back up that any of the other Pac-10 coaches will be sticking around their programs for long; with every year that passes it's hard to imagine Tedford being anywhere else.
Entering his ninth season with the Golden Bears, Tedford is the most tenured coach in the Pac-10. His program is relatively clean. Turnover among his assistants is relatively low, though it most assuredly would be higher if Cal were averaging 10 wins per season instead of eight. Quite simply, no football coach in the Pac-10 can sell consistency to recruits as openly and honestly as Tedford — and have evidence to back it up. Harbaugh is restless by nature. Kiffin has to overcome a credibility problem. Rick Neuheisel passed through two other schools as head coach before getting to UCLA. Kelly has a one-year record and has been noticed. Steve Sarkisian at Washington, another rookie, was contacted by the Raiders in 2007 and, should he have success, will get more looks from the NFL. Rarely does Cal recruit against the likes of Paul Wulff at Washington State, Dennis Erickson at Arizona State or Mike Stoops at Arizona. The problem with Mike Riley, entering his eighth year at Oregon State and who recently signed an extension through 2019, when he turns 66, is that he is in Corvallis. Riley is the best coach in the conference, but he works in a place that almost never attracts a blue-chipper. Which means Tedford this month is in position to expand his clout. He can sell the Bay Area. He can sell improving and expanding facilities, though certain areas of Memorial Stadium look like safety hazards.
Entering his ninth season with the Golden Bears, Tedford is the most tenured coach in the Pac-10. His program is relatively clean. Turnover among his assistants is relatively low, though it most assuredly would be higher if Cal were averaging 10 wins per season instead of eight.
Quite simply, no football coach in the Pac-10 can sell consistency to recruits as openly and honestly as Tedford — and have evidence to back it up.
Harbaugh is restless by nature. Kiffin has to overcome a credibility problem. Rick Neuheisel passed through two other schools as head coach before getting to UCLA. Kelly has a one-year record and has been noticed. Steve Sarkisian at Washington, another rookie, was contacted by the Raiders in 2007 and, should he have success, will get more looks from the NFL.
Rarely does Cal recruit against the likes of Paul Wulff at Washington State, Dennis Erickson at Arizona State or Mike Stoops at Arizona.
The problem with Mike Riley, entering his eighth year at Oregon State and who recently signed an extension through 2019, when he turns 66, is that he is in Corvallis. Riley is the best coach in the conference, but he works in a place that almost never attracts a blue-chipper.
Which means Tedford this month is in position to expand his clout. He can sell the Bay Area. He can sell improving and expanding facilities, though certain areas of Memorial Stadium look like safety hazards.
Loyal to his assistants=stability x 2. Bob Gregory might not be the most popular man, but he has recruited several key members of this class and has shown great interest in all of them. Tosh Lupoi might be the first true Tedford acolyte--without his outstanding efforts on the recruiting trail, and he could be in contention for recruiter of the year.
The point is with Tedford's loyalty to his assistants, he's been able to show that the people he has here will not be let go barring drastic circumstances (see Alamar, Pete). That means more consistency for recruits, who usually get pretty dismayed when the guys that recruited them are let go. As solarise showed us, more and more athletes aren't choosing a school, but a coach, a personal teacher that'll take them four years.
Is it any wonder that the best feature of our team continues to be Ron Gould's running backs (Gould has been at Cal for over a decade now), and the worst has been our passing game (five offensive coordinators in five years). And who knows how much better our defenses will get with capable lieutenants like Lupoi, Thompson and Simmons finally coming into their own? Add in Daft hopefully starting to teach better fundamentals with the wide receivers and Marshall starting to develop the offensive line, and you could see more of an upside as time goes by.
Hopefully, Tedford will recognize the importance of continuity and try his best to keep the Bears coaching staff right where they are. If that isn't possible due to financial constraints, then we'll have to see if he has good replacements ready to add into the staff.
The SAHPC: Our fans always underestimate how bad our facilities have been and how they've undercut our recruiting efforts. Not having that athletic center ready to go, plus the bad mojo surrounding the treesitters provided such bad PR for Tedford and the football team that we had to scrap around for good recruits.
With the SAHPC getting moving, now it's not a huge issue. It could mean really good things ahead for the Bears, as almost every incoming class should be practicing exclusively in the new facilities. While I don't think it'll result in an influx of five stars, there's no reason not to expect Tedford and Cal to attract looks from top-notch talent in the upcoming years (and if early recruiting rankings are any indicator, the Bears are in the hunt for some big time names in 2011).
Exciting playmakers: Nothing is more important these days than visibility, and especially in the YouTube age (when you can find anyone's highlight reel), players gravitated toward schools with stars. In the last few years, Cal has produced so many exciting playmakers (particularly on offense) that their names are common fixtures on the football landscape. Quarterbacks are always intrigued at working with Tedford (and probably more so than ever with Aaron Rodgers blooming this season), and Austin Hinder was definitely down for being Tedford's new quarterback of the future. Ron Gould turns running backs into stars (could Trajuan Briggs be next?) and Desean Jackson gets every young receiver a little added incentive to come to Cal (Keenan Allen and a host of other names will be lobbying for that lofty status soon enough).
With Chris Martin, Chris McCain, Gabe King, Cecil Whiteside, Nick Forbes and company on their way, you could see a lot of new defensive playmakers appearing too, all of whom could lay the foundation for a monster defense in about two to three years. And all it takes is one or two great defensive classes to set up the next four or five ("Come play with Martin!").
The Pete Carroll Trojans are no more. By far this was the biggest deal in 2010, and it should not be understated--if Pete Carroll was replaced with a generic head coach (say, Ron Prince), how many recruiting battles does Tedford win with recruits choosing between USC and Cal? Do we get Devon Kennard last year? Do we get one of the treasured five star quarterbacks always outside our reach? How does the balance of power shift in the middle of that decade?
Pete Carroll and USC were the perfect match. He provided the recruiting energy and passion that was needed to lock up not just one or two but five to ten of the best names around the country year after year. Add in the name of USC and it was inevitable that the Trojans would dominate the conference for as long as they did. Take Carroll away and Tedford and the Bears would have already broken their Rose Bowl curse. Simple as that.
The historical comparison I'd make here is between Casear and Augustus. It was a lot more fun to be led by Casear--plenty of battles, conquering the lands, making deals, crushing enemies one at a time. Augustus avoided big wars and didn't conduct many huge scale battles, which probably caused a lot of grumbling for those who wanted more fighting and aggression. However, he built up the Roman Empire to one of its many apexes and kept it in a relatively calm and peaceful state during his rule. His rue was steady while the others was rocky. And with Caesar, he always faced the possibility of death, as enemies continued to strike at him until someone finally nailed in the dagger (USC fans always knew there was a chance Carroll would leave for the pros again; Cal fans haven't worried about Tedford leaving for quite some time). Generally, you were always in safer hands with Augustus rather than Caesar.
(If we're comparing Roman emperors to Pac-10 coaches, Tedford is Augustus, Carroll is Caesar, Riley is Trajan, Sarkisian is Hadrian, Kelly's probably Vespasian, Bellotti is Aurelius, Neuheisel is Domitian, Erickson is Tiberius, Stoops is Claudius, Wulff is Commodus, Harbaugh is Nero and Kiffin is definitely Caligula. To be explored more in the offseason.)
All I have to say it's better that our Bears are ruled by an Augustus rather than a Caesar. And with Tedford at the helm, we could be in store for one long Pax Romana ahead.