Jeff Tedford spent Monday night in a fancy corner suite at the Cosmopolitan.
Tuesday night he’ll be back in his office at Fresno State. Except he won’t be sleeping there.
During Tedford’s tenure at Cal, he was known for spending several nights a week in his office sleeping on an air mattress.
The air mattress has yet to make an appearance at the Duncan Building, though Tedford can’t promise it won’t.
“Maybe during camp I might do that a little bit,” Tedford said during a one-on-one interview at the Mountain West Football Media Summit. “But during the season, it’s 10- to 15-minute drive (back to his house). I can get home and get back pretty simple.”
That wasn’t the case at Cal, where Tedford’s home in Blackhawk was at least a 30-minute commute from Berkeley. In those days Tedford wasn’t sleeping very much, so wasting time behind the wheel didn’t make sense.
“When you’re only sleeping four hours a night and you take a half hour to get there and a half hour to get back, now you’re only getting three,” he said.
I think it’s important to get more sleep, and the number of studies that have come out on sleep support that.
The 55-year-old version of Tedford is just as driven and meticulous as ever. No change there. But he has learned to work smarter and more efficiently after experiencing first-hand the effects of stress and lack of sleep.
In 2014, he took a leave of absence and subsequently resigned from his position as Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator after passing out in a hotel room before a pre-season game. He underwent heart surgery and had two stents implanted to keep his arteries open.
When asked if stress and the long hours he kept as a head coach contributed to his health problems, he said: “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.”
Three years later, Tedford said he feels great and sleeps seven hours per night. But it will be a challenge to stay on track as the Bulldogs embark on a season in which they’re picked to finish last in the West Division, not to mention an incredibly difficult non-conference games.
“I think I’ll be the exact same as far as my drive and my focus,” Tedford said. “But hopefully a little wiser about things too.”
This isn’t the first time Tedford has found himself facing a steep climb. At Cal he inherited a 1-10 team, took the Golden Bears to a bowl in his first year and went on to compile an 82-57 record over 11 seasons.
82-57 Jeff Tedford’s career record in 11 seasons at Cal
One of Tedford’s pledges is to not overload the offensive game plan. Many of those nights in his office at Cal were spent designing and scripting plays. Sometimes as many as 180 … for one game. Way way too many, in retrospect.
“Like the mad scientist who keeps sitting in a room and going and going and going,” Tedford said. “It got out of hand. I’ve found you can be successful without so many plays.”
Tedford also had a tendency to micromanage every facet of the program, which also led to elevated stress levels. He has since learned to dial things back by not heaping every responsibility on himself.
“I used to micromanage things so hard,” Tedford said. “If I heard a guy didn’t go to class, I’d be chasing around campus trying to find him. I would get myself worked up over a kid missing class, and that’s not healthy. Now I will delegate it and talk to him when I see him.”
I asked Tedford if he had mellowed with age.
He shook his head.
“I don’t know if I’m more mellow, but experience changes you,” he said. “Just being there before helps. I used to overreact. I don’t overreact anymore.”
I don’t know if I’m more mellow, but experience changes you. I don’t overreact anymore.
After awakening before 5 a.m. Tuesday, the first-year Fresno State coach was busy working on the training camp. (The first day of practice is Aug. 1.) By 5:15 he was already texting recruits.“It never ends,” he said.
This trip hasn’t been all business, however. Before arriving in Las Vegas, Tedford and his wife, Donna, flew to the Phoenix area to visit an ill family member. The couple then rented a car to make the five-hour drive. Donna did the driving while Jeff made phone calls and sent texts.
Once they arrived here, they went to see “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay.
The verdict? “It was cool – real good,” Tedford said.
As soon as he finishes his media obligations, the Tedfords will make the drive back to Fresno on Tuesday evening – Donna again behind the wheel so her husband can get more work done.
Tedford plans to stop by the office, but he won’t be sleeping there. His bed at home beats an air mattress any day.