To have any chance of avoiding a third straight losing season in 2016, Fresno State must hit the bull’s-eye with this offensive coordinator hire.
However, that’s still only a short-term stopgap for a program with deep-seated issues.
While it’s doubtful either one will end up in a job each previously held (Erickson was the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator from 1976 to 1987 under Jim Sweeney; Tedford from 1993 to 1997 under Sweeney and Pat Hill), I understand – and agree with – the logic.
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Right now what Fresno State needs more than anything is someone with experience installing an offense and developing young quarterbacks. Someone who has schemed against every formation and blitz known to football. Dave Schramm, officially fired Monday after learning his fate last week, possesses an abrasive personality that rubbed many players the wrong way. Ideally, his replacement should be more of a patient, even-tempered teacher.
Right now what Fresno State needs more than anything is someone with experience installing an offense and developing young quarterbacks. Someone who has schemed against every formation and blitz known to football.
Hardly anyone fits that description better than Erickson, whose résumé includes seven stints as a college head coach (highlighted by two national championships at Miami) and two in the NFL. After retiring in 2012, he has spent the past two seasons as Utah’s running backs coach under Kyle Whittingham.
Although the 68-year-old says he feels healthy and energetic enough to coach “six or seven more years,” it’s questionable whether he’d be interested in Fresno State at this stage of his career – or want to take on such a massive challenge.
I’d imagine coach Tim DeRuyter and athletic director Jim Bartko would need to do a lot of convincing.
The other name that makes sense is Tedford, who Tuesday resigned from his position as coach of the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions “in order to pursue other opportunities in college football.”
There are so many head-coaching vacancies across the FBS that you’d have to think the former Cal coach and Fresno State quarterback would be a candidate for several.
To return to his alma mater as offensive coordinator, Tedford probably would require assurances he’d be in line to be the next Bulldogs head coach. But let’s face it: With good friend Bartko in charge (they worked together at Oregon and Cal), he’d be a leading candidate regardless.
Of course, if Tedford takes another head-coaching position now, it likely removes him from consideration if the Fresno State job comes open next year. Which it just might. (I also should mention Taylor Tedford, Jeff’s oldest son, is an assistant director of development for The Bulldog Foundation.)
All things considered, I think it’s unlikely Fresno State winds up with Erickson or Tedford. But just to afford someone of that ilk, the athletic department must be willing to stretch its pocketbook.
$1.6 million Fresno State’s 2015-16 salary pool for assistant football coaches
Fresno State is paying its assistant football coaches $1.6 million in 2015-16 (current contracts don’t expire until June 30), a figure that has not increased since 2012-13 and ranks either seventh or eighth in the Mountain West Conference.
From that $1.6 million pool, Schramm’s salary of $252,980 represented the biggest chunk. Defensive coordinator Nick Toth, whom The Bee and others reported could be terminated or demoted, makes $242,805.
That may sound like a lot of dough, but it really isn’t. Not in today’s college football. For example, I’ve heard suggestions Fresno State should bring back Tim Skipper as defensive coordinator. Excellent idea. Except Skipper makes $340,000 as Florida’s running backs coach.
Bartko, despite mounting financial pressure from this season’s $800,000 revenue shortfall, says the Bulldogs can afford higher salaries if necessary.
“We’ll look at everything,” Bartko told The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. “We’ll look at who the person is, his experience, what they want to do. I’m not saying it’s going to be more if it’s somebody with less experience, but if it’s somebody that we can get that may cost a little more money, we’re going to have to figure that one out.
“We have to be competitive in the conference. We need to have a staff that Tim has full confidence in and be competitive in what we’re doing.”
We’re going to do what’s fair. We’re not going to be stupid, but we’re going to do what’s right.
Fresno State athletic director Jim Bartko, on whether he’s willing to pay more for an OC
To be competitive in 2016, hiring the right offensive coordinator is Fresno State’s best shot.
In the long term, however, more seismic, fundamental changes are needed.
Some of the stories I’ve heard about the current staff’s recruiting methods are, quite frankly, alarming. They also explain why the program is suddenly devoid of talent.
When Hill was in charge of procuring players, both as head coach and Sweeney’s recruiting coordinator, every prospective Bulldog had his game film dissected. And it wasn’t just one game but several.
“I watched a certain quarterback’s entire season six times, charting every play,” one former staffer said. “And our head coach was buried in recruiting. He watched every game of everyone still on the board.”
Multiple sources tell me the current staff no longer dissects game film. Instead they watch highlights on websites such as Hudl.com and read scouting reports online.
Multiple sources tell me that’s no longer the case. The current staff no longer dissects game film, which is laborious and time-consuming. Instead they rely on highlights on websites such as Hudl.com and read scouting reports online.
Not sure how coaches identify future Bulldogs when they seem so unsure of what they’re looking for in the first place.
The Bulldogs’ system for scouting and player development is in such disarray that for the past month Hill has been coming in once a week to do film evaluations. Sources close to Hill say he’s frustrated by the dysfunction.
Coming off a 3-9 season and likely starting over with an inexperienced quarterback, Fresno State needs to hit a home run with an offensive coordinator. Except the more I hear, the more it sounds like a Band-Aid will be used when a tourniquet is needed.