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Dispelling the Conspiracy Theories

We've got a lot of stuff coming up. Yellow Fever works his culinary magic.  We've got a Q+A with House of Sparky and a preview of ASU.  So, keep your eyes locked here. 

Before we get to the YTT, we've been posting a lot recently.  So, if you missed anything, look at our Post CSU thoughts, our CSU photos, photos, and more photos, the Fantasy Week In Review, and our debate over Top 25 rankings.  Also, the Roundtable.  And now back to the regularly scheduled Conspiracy post from HydroTech:

Let me preface this post by saying the purpose of this post is not to advocate any one QB over the other.  Personally, I just want wins and if that's Riley, then fine, if Longshore, then fine. 

The purpose of this post is to dispel some of the conspiracy theory talk floating around on why Tedford has started up the QB competition again mid-season.  I want to dispel some of these conspiracy theories because they really are getting out of hand and ridiculous. 

I know a lot of pro-Riley Cal fans are looking for some sort of way to explain why Tedford could put Riley's starting job at risk by opening up the QB competition again but let's stay grounded in reality here.  Some of these theories are really far out there.  Some of them are really grasping at straws.  I merely want to try and bring some reality and reasonableness back to the conversation.   

So let's get started with some of these "conspiracy theories..."

(1)  "Tedford hates Riley"

This is pure speculation.  I haven't heard anything in the media nor have I seen or heard anything during my time with the team.  Furthermore, I do know that when the coaches recruit players, if any of the coaches has a negative experience or opinion about a recruit, Cal stops recruiting that player - no questions asked.  Basically, should any of the coaches who are recruiting that player dislike something about a recruit enough to persuade that coach that the recruit should stop being pursued, the recruiting stops.  Riley was recruited thus we should assume that (at least at the time Riley was recruited), all the coaches recruiting him (including Tedford!) did not dislike Riley. 

Unless something in the media suggests this, or Tedford or Riley publicly state something of the sort, this theory remains nothing but a very speculative theory.


(2)  "Tedford is setting up Riley for failure."

This theory is pretty far out there.  Nothing definitive has come up to confirm this theory. 

Furthermore, the logic behind this theory is extremely flawed and counter to common sense intuition.  Why?  If Riley fails, the offense fails.  If the offense fails, the team is more likely to lose.  If the team is more likely to lose, the team will lose more often.  If the team loses more often, then Tedford is more likely to get fired.  We should all be operating on the assumption that Tedford does not want to get fired.  He's publicly said he likes it here at Cal.  He likes the bay area.  He likes recruiting with the ability to say recruits can come to the top public university in America.  Tedford has a family nearby.  Tedford's son is enrolled at Cal (perhaps even two by now).  Getting fired would probably mean a new job, moving, and a huge hassle. 

To believe this theory would be to believe that Tedford is willing to put his hatred for a player above winning.  Above his job security.  Above his family.  No, I don't think that's a reasonable assumption.

To believe this theory also suggests that Tedford has lost or has no professionalism.  I think most of us would agree that one of the concepts of professionalism is that you don't let your personal life get in the way of your job.  We should all be operating under the assumption that Tedford has a high level of professionalism.  If he didn't, then he'd be letting his emotions get in the way of of his job.  His job is to win.  If he doesn't win, he is at risk of being fired.  I don't think he wants to be fired. 

Tedford wants to win just as much as the rest of us do.  If you don't believe that, you really really need to do a reality check.  Setting Riley up for failure would not help the team win. 

This theory is completely contrary to the goals of this team.  This theory is completely contrary to the goal of winning.


(3)  "Tedford is playing favorites" / "Tedford favors Longshore"

This seems to be the biggie.  The favorite.  It's easy to see why.  It's simple.  It seems plausible.  No evidence is really needed to back it up since Tedford isn't just going to come out and say "I like Nate Longshore better." 

But the logic behind this theory fails horribly. 

I wrote why this logic fails in our CSU post-game blog post:

"It seems like people think Tedford favors Longshore…. still. Whether he does or not, I don’t know. But here’s where logic fails those who may think that Tedford favors Longshore. Assuming Tedford favored Longshore last year and such favoritism still persists, then why did Tedford choose Riley over Longshore as the starter for the 2008 season? If Tedford was playing favorites, he would have chosen Longshore to start the 2008 season over Riley despite numerous reports from Okanes (and a few quotes from Tedford himself) that Riley was playing better.

Tedford said last year that he stuck with Longshore because he gave Cal the best chance to win – from that we can assume that Longshore was outplaying Riley in practices. But let’s entertain and analyze the theory that Tedford plays favorites and merely likes Longshore and hates Riley. So let’s just assume for the sake of this remaining argument that instead, Riley was outperforming Longshore in practices during the post Longshore-injury part of 2007 as so many believers of this theory suggest, and nevertheless Tedford was playing favorites and stuck with Longshore. That means Tedford favored Longshore over Riley despite Longshore’s inferior play. Continuing with the analysis, let’s jump to this year. Prior to this season, Tedford said Riley would get the start against MSU which is contrary to the theory that Tedford favors Longshore. After MSU, Tedford said Riley “earned” the starting job since Riley played better than Longshore. This too is contrary to the theory that Tedford favors Longshore. Furthermore, the scenario immediately after MSU is the same scenario in 2007 (post-Longshore injury): that Longshore was not playing as well as Riley. Thus, since these are the same scenarios, then we should expect Tedford to choose Longshore as the starter both times since Tedford plays favorites. But in reality, Tedford chose Riley to start after MSU – which as I said earlier, is contrary to the theory that Tedford favors Longshore.

That was a lengthy and complex analysis, but the point is that if Tedford truly is playing favorites or “hates Riley” then Tedford would have made Longshore the starter for MSU, and would have chosen Longshore as the starter after the MSU game despite Longshore’s poor performance against MSU (since the logic is that Tedford will continue to start Longshore despite not performing as well as Riley – which supporters of the “Tedford favors Longshore” theorists claim to have happened in 2007). But Tedford didn’t choose Longshore to start against MSU. Tedford didn’t tap Longshore as the starter after MSU.

There is no favoritism for Longshore."


(4)  "Tedford has double standards" / "Tedford stuck it out with Ayoob in 2005, and Longshore in 2007, but now he's not going to stick it out with Riley in 2008"

First, let's tackle the "Tedford stuck it out with Ayoob in 2005, but now he's not going to stick it out with Riley in 2008" theory. 

This conspiracy of double standards is flawed because you can't compare 2005 and 2008.  In 2008, we have Riley and Longshore.  Who is better between Riley and Longshore is debatable and irrelevant to our analysis.  What is essential is the assumption that both are very capable QBs.  We've seen flashes of brilliance from Riley against Oregon State.  We've seen Riley light up Air Force.  We saw Riley put up a very strong performance against Michigan State.  As for Longshore, Longshore in 2006 was "good."  Longshore pre-injury in 2007 was "great."  The talent level between Riley and Longshore is very close. 

But in 2005, we had Ayoob and Levy.  Neither was "great."  Both had their limitations.  Neither was a top Pac-10 QB.  But Ayoob was always more of a talented QB than Levy.  I know Levy won the 2005 Big Game and the 2005 Las Vegas bowl, but I stand by that statement.  I've seen these two in practices.  I've seen what Ayoob was capable of before his confidence got shot.  Ayoob was the better QB and the talent difference between Ayoob and Levy was much much more than between Longshore and Riley.

And that's why you can't compare 2005 and 2008.  They are different situations.  In 2005 we had a much larger talent different between Ayoob and Levy.  In 2008, we have a much smaller talent difference between Riley and Longshore (whoever is better is irrelevant). 

This year, if one QB isn't performing, we have an almost equal backup waiting in the wings. 

Now what about comparing 2007 and 2008?  A lot of conspiracy theorists say Tedford has double standards in that he stuck with Longshore for so long in 2007 but isn't sticking with Riley for as long in 2008. 

Fellow Cal blogger BeastMode from The Sporting Contrarian had some great thoughts (which just so happen to correspond with mine) on this conspiracy theory.  In his most recent post, he wrote these comments in regards to opening up the QB competition again and Riley possibly riding pine:

Isn’t this exactly what Riley supporters and Tedford doubters wanted last year?  When a player isn’t performing, said player gets pulled.  Always comPETE.  Sorry, just because Tedford stuck with Nate last year doesn’t mean he owes Riley anything this year.  If things really have changed under Tedford, and Riley truly is ineffective in the eyes of JT and Cignetti, then Riley needs to sit.

BestMode's thoughts are very much on the mark.  If the pro-Riley supporters wanted Riley to start because they thought Longshore was ineffective and they want the more effective QB to start, then they shouldn't be complaining about the fact that Tedford is considering playing Longshore instead when Riley hasn't quite performed up to his usual standards. 

And maybe Tedford did make a mistake last year by sticking it out with an injured and less effective Longshore for so long, but like BeastMode said, that doesn't mean Tedford owes Riley the same deference. 

Fellow Cal blogger BearsNecessity from BearsNecessity had this to say in our comments:

Could this be Tedford, you know, learning from mistakes?

I think another fellow Cal blogger hit the nail on the head.  If Tedford thinks he did make mistakes last year by sticking with a less effective QB, then perhaps he's learning and being quicker to replace those players who aren't performing up to par. 


Final Thoughts:

Those pro-Riley fans last year who wanted Riley to start because they thought he was more effective should be rejoicing this year that Tedford is considering playing a different QB, whom Tedford thinks will be more effective. 

But I know a lot of pro-Riley Cal fans aren't rejoicing at the fact that Longshore might start this Saturday. 

Again, BeastMode had an applicable quote in our comments:

What I don’t get is all these hypocrites saying Tedford has to stick with Riley. Aren’t these the same people that said Tedford is too loyal, that he stuck with Ayoob and then Longshore too long? Didn’t they want him to change that and pull a guy if he’s ineffective?

BeastMode asks very importantly, if the same people last year who said Tedford is too loyal to (favors) the ineffective 2007 post-injury Longshore are the same ones who want Tedford this year to pull a guy who is ineffective. 

It seems like BeastMode assumes the answer is yes - that the same people last year who said Tedford is too loyal to (or favors) the ineffective 2007 post-injury Longshore are the same ones who want Tedford this year to pull a guy who is ineffective.

I propose the answer is actually no.  They aren't the same people.  If they were, then just as BeastMode suggests, these people wouldn't be complaining about the possibility of Riley riding pine.  They would be supportive of the idea of playing a guy that Tedford thinks would be more effective.

So what are these people instead?  These people are pro-Riley Cal fans who want to see Riley start no matter what.  Their minds are made up.  No matter how good Longshore may perform, or how bad Riley may perform, they just want to see Riley start no matter what - for whatever reason.  

Every Cal fan is entitled to their opinion.  I'm not here to dissuade pro-Riley Cal fans who want to see Riley start no matter what from their opinion. 

I'm just here to defeat the growing number of ridiculous conspiracy theories which have popped up everywhere, and to bring some reasonableness back to the table.

There is a very logical, reasonable reason why Tedford has opened up the QB competition again:

Cal may have a more effective QB on the sidelines. 

Again, I'm not saying Longshore is a more effective QB.  I'm saying Tedford may think that.

I know the above reason is not one which many Riley-should-start-no-matter-what Cal fans like to hear, but it's a much more plausible, reasonable, and logical answer to why Tedford has opened up the QB competition again than "Tedford is setting Riley up for failure," or "Tedford hates Riley," or "Tedford has double standards," or "Tedford is more loyal to/favors Longshore."  

Riley-should-start-no-matter-what Cal fans are entitled to their opinion, but I so respectfully propose that perhaps their unwavering opinion is blinding them to the so very simple, logical, and obvious reason why Tedford may start Longshore.