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Jeff Tedford, Master And Commander

The conventional wisdom concerning Jeff Tedford is that he needs to check his crown jewels every other game or so to ensure Wallace and Gromit haven't absconded with them. Tedford's decisions have been questioned over, and over, and over, and over, and those are in the games we WON.

Whatevs people. Jeff Tedford is Les Miles with a frontal lobe. He's George C. Patton without the Colt Pistols. He's Lando Calrissian engaging Star Destroyers at point-blank range. This is a man who can do no right when he loses, and even LESS right when he wins. This sounds like a bold individual to me.

After the jump, we look at the boldest moves in Tedford's tenure. Give us your own in the comments.

Honorable mention: The other 4th down, 2004 USC

I really don't have much rationale for this one; I just forgot what happened in this game. Can someone tell me what exactly possessed Tedford to do this with 14:45 left down six? Someone refresh my memory so I can still be justified in making fun of Harbaugh for his 4th down decision in 2009.

California at 15:00 CAL USC
3rd and 14 at CAL 41 Start of the 4th quarter. 17 23
3rd and 14 at CAL 41 Aaron Rodgers (CAL) rushed up the middle for -7 yards.    
4th and 21 at CAL 34 Golden Bears fumble by Aaron Rodgers (CAL), recovered by Mike Patterson (USC), returned for no gain.  


This was a bold call in a bold time that somehow didn't hurt us. The boldness infected USC as they went for it on their own 4th down a few plays later. Being bold can cancel out the boldness of others. I call it the Law of Boldness, created when I wrote this and totally not trademarked by me.

5. The bubble screen WR pass, 2002 Baylor

HydroTech already talked about this in our review of the 2002 game, and we know why tactically this is perhaps the boldest move of his tenure. Strategically, it might've been bolder. You know why? It's called the primacy effect.

The primacy effect basically states we recall beginnings better than we recall middles. So while many cool plays from many games have faded from memory,  we remember that WR pass because it was such a momentous occasion for so many people who had endured much much worse.

It doesn't really matter if Jeff Tedford has done cool-looking strategic plays before. The fact is he started with the coolest play ever has set an expectation that every play must be MAD GENIUS. Now, Cal fans demand that every play subsequent to that one be just as mondo as a bubble screen pass, or otherwise he's lost his touch like Jimmy Smits in everything he's ever done the past decade.

Talk about high expectations for Tedford to set. That's BOLD with a capital B, O, L, and D.

4. Centering the ball, 2009 Big Game

Whenever von Clausewitz writes his long-anticipated followup to On War (not sure what's taking him so long), he'll dedicate about ten thousand pages to this little piece. It's psychologically mind-bending, but you'll eventually understand.

At first, you might be thinking, "What?" At second glance, you might be thinking, "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA." Ah, but that's why you're all young grasshoppers and Tedford is Mr. Po.

See, Jeff Tedford recognizes that by scoring another touchdown, he is admitting that he didn't trust his defense. A ten point lead means that he believes Cal's defense will give up another touchdown. A six point lead implies he trusts his team to get the stop. These are Machiavellian mechanisms at work here.

Emboldened by the confidence that Coach Tedford placed in them, the defense responded with this.


Massive cajones señor. Instead of quietly breaking Furd hearts with another ho-hum double digit victory, you sent Golden Bear nation into instant revelry. Thanks for manufacturing a moment that wouldn't have existed without supreme boldness.

3. Riley, Longshore, Riley, Longshore, 2008

I'm not sure anyone could have turned a quarterbacking circus into a 9-4 football team, but that's exactly what Tedford did. He rode the hand of the quarterback that was giving him the most, and when that quarterback stopped performing adequately, he turned it back over to the other guy.

And not once was Tedford really wrong about it. Riley played well at the start before he started throwing footballs like they were beer pong balls. Longshore came in and did adequately before he again threw a wobbly pattern to the flats. Riley came back in and handed off the ball to Jahvid Best with supreme aplomb. Longshore did similar things.

It was kind of like Crimson Tide, except with the caveat of 70,000 people yelling at Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman while they were in that submarine. It was not enjoyable, it was super-tense, and we still finished 4th in the Pac-10. An underrated coaching job in a bizarre transition year for Cal football.

2. Going for #1, 2007 Oregon State

Lost in that mess of a finish was Tedford rolling the dice on 1st and goal with :12 left and a redshirt frosh quarterback going for the win. Tedford's decision wasn't entirely faulty, but it was ballsy given the circumstances. A field goal would have tied the game, although given the ALAMAR connection Jordan Kay would have probably booted it right onto Tightwad Hill. Still, it seemed a bit safer than young Riley somehow overcoming his short/medium throw inaccuracy and nailing Lavelle Hawkins on the numbers.

If something horribly wrong occurred, Tedford would receive the blame, and deservedly so. Something happened, Tedford got blamed, and deservedly so. But it proved once again he's the boldest coach on planets not named Alpha Centauri.

1. Summer 2003

[Conversation rephrased for the future movie deal]

"I think this kid Cross could be something for us, Coach. He's got great hands, does a good job setting up blocks, can run nice routes--"

"Hey, who's that guy throwing the ball to Garrett?"

"Oh, kid named Aaron. I haven't paid attention to him, but he's definitely got a good throwing--."

"Let's check him out too."