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ESPN Pac-10 Blogger Ted Miller apparently got a fair amount of mail from Cal fans after Saturday's loss to Arizona.

Frank from Redding, Calif., writes: Do you think Jeff Tedford will be on the hot seat this year as once again we are failing to meet expectations? Cal has the talent, but seems to be outcoached and outplayed by inferior teams.

Brett from Washington DC, writes: Ted, Why do you think Cal never lives up to its potential? I mean, 2004 looked like the breakout season for the Tedford era, where we would finally compete regularly with U$C, but each subsequent season has been a disappointment in one way or another. Last year obviously being the biggest. Why can't we go from a team that belongs on other teams Upset Alert list to an elite team in the country?

Jay from Berkeley writes: How detrimental do you think Jeff Tedford is to Cal football? He receives so much praise, yet his teams never seem to achieve to the level of their talent... What do you think of his decision to start Nate Longshore over Kevin Riley with Riley coming off of a 42-7 win, and then staying with Longshore after he characteristically caused the offense to sputter in the 2nd half 2 weeks ago against Arizona State? Wasn't his meager performance against Arizona this week predictable?

Seriously?  Seriously???

Cal failing to meet expectations?  Cal never living up to potential?  Tedford is detrimental to Cal? 


Here's what Ted Miller had to say in response:

Ted Miller: Gahhhhhh!

Who stole Berkeley and made it into Clemson?

I just don't get this stuff. "Hot seat" for Tedford? "Never lives up to its potential?" Tedford as "detrimental?"

If you guys keep writing this stuff, I'm going to climb a tree outside your window and refuse to leave. And I'll play sitar music. Endlessly.

Hey, Washington fans, are you listening? Looks like a program wants to commit hari kari -- any interest in this lousy coach Jeff Tedford?

Has Cal had some bad moments with Tedford over the past few years? Yes. Have there been moments when he's opened himself up to fair criticism? Sure. Is his handling of the QB situation debatable? Without a doubt.

He's not perfect. But he's perfect for Cal.

Go to the bathroom. Flush the toilet.

That's my sound effect for the Bears if you run Tedford off.

I really hope the majority of Cal fans don't actually think Tedford is detrimental to Cal.

I know last season was tough for Cal fans, and the 2008 loss to Arizona was tough to stomach but let's be serious here.   None of us should be talking about firing Tedford. 

Nevertheless, let's talk through the concerns brought up by some of us.

Cal Fans' Concerns #1: Cal is failing to meet expectations. 

Has Cal failed to meet expectations this year?  No.  We're 4-2.  Most of us predicted us having an 8 or 9 win season.  Right now, we seem to be on track for an 8 win season, and if lucky, perhaps a 9 win season. 

Venerable Cal blogger Ken Crawford predicted an 8 win season (with losses to Arizona, Oregon, USC, and Oregon State).  Level headed and respectable Cal blogger SDGldnBear predicted a loss to Arizona.  But yet, some of us are dissatisfied with our season thus far?

I understand losses are hard to stomach for some of us, but losing to a solid Maryland team and a good Arizona team means Cal has failed expectations?  So we were expecting to beat Maryland and Arizona?  As well as everyone else on our schedule too?  Including USC?  So we were expecting to go 12-0 this season? 

I understand that living in the Pac-10 is tough since USC represents everything we want to become but aren't.  But are we letting our hopes to become as good as USC raise our expectations prematurely?  I think so.

We're not USC.  We're probably not going to have 11 wins every season until we can start pulling more top recruits, we have better facilities and our fan base truly gets behind the program (such as Nebraska or Texas fans).  Nevertheless, it seems like some of us think we should be having 10 and 11 win seasons left and right.  We have to set reasonable expectations.  Right now, half way through the 2008 season, Cal has met expectations for the season so far. Let's finish out this season and see if we truly meet par for the course in 2008  before we really start talking about whether Cal failed to meet expectations in 2008. 

Cal Fans' Concerns #2: Cal is getting outcoached and outplayed by inferior teams.

Yeah, shit happens.  Get used to it. 

Look, even though Cal may be (allegedly) superior to most teams it faces in 2008, we're not heads and shoulders superior than our competition - not like USC is above everyone they face. 

So just because we are (allegedly) superior to most teams on our schedule doesn't mean we should automatically expect to win those games.  As we all know, sometimes superior teams play below their capabilities and concurrently, sometimes inferior teams play above and beyond their capabilities.

Getting outcoached and outplayed by inferior teams sucks.  I'm not arguing against that.  But let's be serious here.  It happens. 

Just ask Pete Carroll when USC lost to Stanfurd in 2007.  Just ask Pete Carroll when USC lost to Oregon State in 2008. 

USC is the perfect example.  If a team as dominant and talented as USC can lose to teams that are across the board pretty much inferior to them (and at home!), then isn't it logical to conclude that Cal, a team not nearly as talented as USC, will be more likely to get upset by inferior teams?  The answer is yes.

Do Cal fans really understand how hard it is to just win a game?  I mean seriously.  Aside from playing Washington State, just winning a game is hard enough as it is.  With all the scouting of teams nowadays, and balancing of talent across the board due to scholarship limitations, it's hard to win games nowadays. 

Winning 9+ games a season is hard, especially when we're the Pac-10 and we don't load up three to four cupcake opponents each year like our SEC and Terp friends.

Even the best coaches in the NCAA lose to inferior teams and get outcoached on occasion. 

Cal and Tedford is no different. 

Cal Fans' Concerns #3: Since 2004, Cal has never lives up to its potential.

Let's see...

In 2005 our starting QB got injured half way through the first game of the season.  Our backup QB wasn't quite as good as we all thought and hoped. 

In 2006 we logged a 9-3 regular season with losses to a good Tennessee team in one of the most hostile environments in college football, and lost close games to Arizona and Goliath USC.  In the bowl game, we destroyed Texas A&M.  We failed to meet expectations this season?  Maybe a little considering we started out ranked so high - but we all know that preseason rankings are nothing more than educated guesses and mere speculation.   In the end, most Cal fans still considered the season a marginal success considering we won the bowl game and achieved a 10 win season.

In 2007 we were doing just fine until Longshore got injured.  Basically, an injury to our starting QB derailed our season.  Much has been made of the season post-injury, but even if Kevin Riley had started every game out after Oregon last year, we still would have probably lost our fair share of Cal games.  The losses might not have been as emotionally brutal, but fans would still have considered it a disappointment.

So for the past three years, only one season hasn't been derailed by significant injuries.  What'd Cal do in that one season?  Share the Pac-10 title, crush its Big-12 bowl opponent, and have a 10 win season.  Outside of perennial powerhouses, very few teams in the NCAA would call that a disappointing season. 

Cal Fans' Concerns #4: How detrimental do you think Jeff Tedford is to Cal football? He receives so much praise, yet his teams never seem to achieve to the level of their talent... What do you think of his decision to start Nate Longshore over Kevin Riley with Riley coming off of a 42-7 win, and then staying with Longshore after he characteristically caused the offense to sputter in the 2nd half 2 weeks ago against Arizona State?

Let's start with the last sentence.  Yes, Longshore is solely responsible for the offense bogging down in the 2nd half against Arizona State.  If only Longshore was better at run blocking then he could have opened up some holes for the RBs and we would have gotten first downs.  Look, Longshore didn't make some throws in the 2nd half of the ASU game.  Nobody is denying that.  But there are multiple factors for why the offense bogged down against ASU.  QB play is only one factor of many reasons.

Now, let's examine the notion that Tedford is "detrimental" to Cal Football.

Jeff Tedford is not detrimental to Cal Football.  Tedford is beneficial to Cal Football. 

Let me put that in italics.

Jeff Tedford is not detrimental to Cal Football.  Tedford is beneficial to Cal Football. 

No.  Actually, let me put that in italics and bold. 

Jeff Tedford is not detrimental to Cal Football.  Tedford is beneficial to Cal Football.

Now, let me put that in italics and bold and block quote and put a photo of Karl Dorrell in a mustache below it:

Jeff Tedford is not detrimental to Cal Football.  Tedford is beneficial to Cal Football.


Via Zoo News

We are lucky to have Tedford.  We are lucky that Tedford has stuck around considering our fan base is so fair-weather.  We're lucky Tedford has stuck around considering our stadium and its facilities are hardly as extravagant and appealing as the teams we recruit against.  We're lucky that Tedford stuck around for two years as a lawsuit delayed our stadium renovations. We're lucky that Tedford is willing to limit the pool of talent he can recruit from because of Cal's higher academic standards.  We're lucky that Tedford is willing to recruit with what he's given when many other schools spend many times as much money on recruiting than we do.  We're lucky that Tedford hasn't ditched his air mattress in his tiny office which sits on the frickin Hayward fault for a head coaching job at another school with some posh maple wood office with a gold and electronically heated toilet seat (TwistNHook Note:  To be fair, HydroTech did spend a lot of his days personally heating Tedford's toilet, so it not ALL roughntumble for Coach).

We're lucky Tedford hasn't ditched Cal Football for a program with a more supportive fan base considering he gets so many emails and phone calls from Cal fans telling him what he's doing wrong and that they can do his job better than him.

We're lucky that our own whiny I-know-more-than-Coach fan base hasn't run him off yet.

Few coaches would willingly stay at Cal considering the circumstances.  Even fewer coaches could do as good of a job as Tedford, with what little Tedford has had to work with, and not have been plucked away by schools with more appealing head coaching jobs. 

If anyone is going to claim that Tedford is truly "detrimental" to Cal Football, then that person must be a masochist or just needs to do a serious reality check.  If Tedford leaves Cal, Cal Football could quickly return to the dark ages of the Holmoe-caust and once again become the perennial Pac-10 doormat. 

Final Thoughts:

In the words of Ted Miller: "[Tedford is] not perfect. But he's perfect for Cal."


TwistNHook Addendum:

Clearly, great minds think alike.  HydroTech and I started work on similar posts without knowing it.  Hydro's was clearly better, but I just wanted to add my thoughts here.  Let's say Cal goes 8-4 this year, reaches the Holiday Bowl and loses in a close game to Oklahoma.  Would that be a good season or a bad season?  8-4 translates to a .66 win percentage.  That's 106 games won in baseball.  Or 6 more games won than the Anaheim Angels of Anaheim in 2008.

That's 54 games won in basketball.  Or the exact number of games won by the New Orleans Hornets, a premier team, last year. 

That's 10 wins in the NFL.  The exact number of wins the Superbowl Champion New York Giants won last year. 

Look, these aren't perfect comparisons here.  But it just shows that peoples conceptions of a "successful" season seems a bit off.  Let's take the Dodgers this year.  They won 84 games for a .51 winning percentage.  Then, they lost in the NLCS.  Many of their fans thought the season had been a success even though they didn't win it all! 

Because the journey was amazing to them.  That's what it is about.  The journey.  Unfortunately, we get so wrapped up on the Rose Bowl, which seems painfully unattainable these past 5 decades.  In college football, more so than the NFL or the NBA or MLB, the margin for error is slim.  Lose one or two games and the NC game is off the table.  Lose one Pac10 game these days and the Rose Bowl is off the table.  When the margin for error is that slim, you only set yourself up for disappointment. 

Yes, it sucks that the Cal Golden Era happens to coincide with one of the greatest dynasties in college football history.  I hate it as much as you do.  But you can either accept that and try to enjoy college football for what it is or reject that reality and continuously court disappointment. 

Let's try to focus on the journey here instead of the eventual destination.  And let's Go Bears!


Ragnarok Addendum:

Way to suck, guys.  I wrote about this last year.


Glenn Dickey Addendum:

[viewable here]

[I guess Dickey is also getting lots of emails from Cal fans too.  Here's what he has to say...]

JEFF TEDFORD has faced a number of problems as Cal’s football coach but none so perplexing as the criticism he gets from those who are supposedly supporters of the program.

Here are some of the criticisms I’ve heard from readers:

--His teams are inconsistent. Hello! This is college football, where teams go up and down every week. There isn’t a weekend that goes by without upsets that are truly mind-boggling.

Sometimes, I think we forget that these players are barely out of their teens, and some are still in them. They’re going to have wide emotional swings and, at some schools (including Cal), they have the added complication of having to go to class.

The very best teams sometimes have enough depth of talent to avoid the wild ups-and-downs, but even USC, which certainly is in that category, has lost in consecutive seasons to Stanford and Oregon State, two teams they should have beaten by four touchdowns.

Cal has never had that depth of talent. Tedford and his assistants have done a good job of recruiting but they can’t equal USC. Cal does not have the same rich football tradition, it is not in the middle of the area richest in prep prospects and it has had the worst athletic facilities of any school in the conference. My older readers especially don’t understand how that affects recruiting because they remember the spare facilities of their youth, but believe me, it’s of paramount importance to young athletes.

--His career path is following that of Ben Braun. Not at all. The signs were there early with Braun, who had a losing record in his second season and was below .500 in conference play in three of his first four seasons. In contrast, Tedford has NEVER had a losing season, and two of his teams have won 10 games. His teams have gone to five straight bowl games, and only the fact that Cal was on NCAA suspension for code violations in the Tom Holmoe era kept his first team from a bowl.

There is also a matter of style. Braun’s failure was due to his insistence that his assistants agree with him, so he got no real input. Tedford has continually tried to refine his style, even bringing in Mike Dunbar to coordinate aspects of the spread offense with his concepts one year. That didn’t work well, but he’s not closing off any avenues.

--The offensive game plans haven’t been as imaginative as when Tedford first came to Cal.

That often happens to coaches who take over a moribund program, as Tedford did. I still remember the first play from scrimmage in his first game, the pitchout and running back pass for a long touchdown against Baylor.

Other teams catch up to that style of play and defend it, so Tedford’s game plans have had to account for that. Much of the criticism I hear from readers, though, is silly. One reader will accuse him of being pass-happy, another will criticize him for running the ball too much. In fact, Tedford’s offenses have always been well balanced between run and pass. I’ve found that readers’ criticisms are often based on the fact that particular plays didn’t work. In other words, dammit, call something that works!

--He’s never gotten a team to a BCS bowl. Much of that is because of the Pac-10’s terrible bowl lineup, with only the Rose Bowl (for the conference champion or runnerup on the years USC is in the national championship game) is a BCS bowl. In fact, as we all know, Cal hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since the 1958 season. There have been nine coaches in between Pete Elliott, the 1958 coach, and Tedford. So, he’s got a lot of company.

I have my issues with Tedford on his current quarterbacks, because I think Kevin Riley should be starting, but that doesn’t blind me to the fact that he’s the best Cal coach in the 53 seasons I’ve been watching closely. It shouldn’t blind you, either.


HydroTech Addendum:

Repeat after me: Jeff Tedford is not detrimental to Cal Football.  Tedford is beneficial to Cal Football.