This time, the Jeff Tedford Coaching Candidacy Express never left the station.
Oregon State, according to multiple reports over the weekend, wanted to speak with the Fresno State coach and architect of college football’s biggest turnaround about its vacancy. Soon thereafter, reports came in that Tedford turned them down.
“He quickly passed,” read part of a Tweet from respected Fox Sports insider Bruce Feldman. “He is happy at Fresno.”
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“That happens in college football from time to time, but I really have no interest in that,” Tedford said about his name being bandied about. “We’re very happy here. We just got here. So I’m committed to Fresno State. …
“The only thing that’s on my mind right now is preparing for this week, putting a game plan together and getting our kids ready to go.”
Oregon State wasn’t the only Pac-12 Conference school looking for a head coach. UCLA got its man in Chip Kelly, just in time to face the Bulldogs next September in Pasadena. Arizona State is still searching, and there could be more openings before the carousel stops spinning.
Tedford, with his proven track record at Cal and quick success he brought Fresno State after four years away from college football, is a natural name for the candidate pool. Pac-12 schools would be dumb not to dial his number.
Can’t say I know Tedford super well, but he definitely doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would leave a head-coaching job after one year (i.e., Lane Kiffin or Todd Graham) – especially at his alma mater. He’s just not wired that way.
But that doesn’t mean Fresno State can put its feet up and just assume the 56-year-old will be around for a decade, or 15 years like his former boss Pat Hill.
The university needs to get busy.
Remember, Tedford was hired by an athletic director, Jim Bartko, who is no longer employed by Fresno State.
Remember, Tedford was hired by an athletic director, Jim Bartko, who is no longer employed by Fresno State. Bartko’s No. 1 priority was bringing Bulldog Stadium into the 21st century, and the final phase called for a new football complex overlooking the south end zone.
Where does that project currently stand, with Bartko gone and the east side of Bulldog Stadium literally crumbling? Will the next athletic director show the same zeal?
Paula Castadio, Fresno State’s vice president for university advancement, said in an email that stadium renovations remain “a high priority” and that environmental documents required for CSU Board of Trustees approval next spring have been initiated. At the same time, engineering consultants are still determining if the east-side berm needs to be completely rebuilt.
As for the next athletic director, Castadio said a hire would be made “sometime” in 2018. My hunch is later rather than sooner.
Following his turn on the podium Monday, I asked Tedford if he was concerned about the impact Bartko’s departure could have on stadium renovations or a new football complex.
“I haven’t really been up on all that stuff,” he replied. “I’m sure after the season I’ll be put into the loop of what the plans are going forward.”
Tedford may keep his thoughts close to the vest, but no way I was going to let him off the hook that easy.
So my next questions were about the importance of stadium renovations and the proposed football complex to his program, and whether he views those as essential.
“There’s no doubt an upgrade to the facilities is something we can use, but that’s a total team effort,” Tedford said. “Whatever the vision is from the president to whoever the AD’s going to be and on down. I’m sure it’s something that’ll be discussed. But I’m not demanding anything by any means.
“It’s something that has to be good for everyone and has to be practical. I’m sure there will be conversations when the season’s over, but right now that’s not my real focus.”
Just because Tedford is sticking around doesn’t mean Fresno State will be safe from pillaging.
Orlondo Steinauer may have been an unknown name in college football circles when Tedford imported him from Canada. People know who he is now, architect of the Mountain West’s stingiest defense, and there will surely be interest.
Steinauer won’t be the only assistant coach with options. It’s the nature of the business and one of the prices of success.
Just like the media and Bulldogs fans, Fresno State was also caught by surprise at how quickly Tedford transformed a listless program.
Just like the media and Bulldogs fans, Fresno State was also caught by surprise at how quickly Tedford transformed a listless program. I say this because the athletic department didn’t give this team the marketing push we see in some offseasons. No billboards, Bulldog-wrapped FAX buses or massive blitz for tickets.
Expect that to change now that the Red Wave got a little taste of winning, plus a reminder of how fun and lively the Bulldog Stadium atmosphere can be. (Too bad it took until the last home game.)
But that’s just fire-stoking. Fresno State needs to get its stadium renovated. It must continue to invest in facilities. Part of the reason Tedford came back was to help get those things done, and they’re necessary to make sure he stays.
Because if the Bulldogs keep winning and keep playing for conference titles, the next suitor will be a lot more attractive than Oregon State.