Welcome back, Jeff Tedford!
From our vantage point, the former Fresno State quarterback and assistant coach is a solid match for the university’s football program.
Much has changed since Tedford was tutoring quarterbacks and designing offenses for coach Jim Sweeney more than 20 years ago.
Tedford further enhanced his reputation as a “quarterback whisperer” at the University of Oregon and then became the head coach at the University of California, where he set school records for wins and bowl game victories, and twice was named conference coach of the year.
Cal has a well-deserved reputation for chewing up and spitting out coaches, and that proved to be Tedford’s fate there, as well. From 2010 to 2012, the Bears went 15-22 and he was shown the door – a victim of the great expectations that he helped create, mediocre results and plunging academic performances by his players.
Fresno State football has ridden a similar roller coaster, most recently experiencing the joys of winning two consecutive Mountain West titles behind quarterback Derek Carr before sliding to the depths of this season’s 1-11 record, the firing of coach Tim DeRuyter and home games played before tens of thousands of empty seats.
I think Coach Tedford is the right guy for us. He will develop student-athletes and leaders.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro
We have little doubt that over time Tedford will rebuild the program. He is an excellent recruiter, instructor and organizer. We expect that he will assemble a top-notch staff and zero in on those student-athletes who best fit his vision for fielding highly successful teams.
But some people might be troubled by the low graduation rates for his Cal players – particularly in light of Fresno State President Joseph Castro’s mantra that academics and athletics should “rise together.” It must be pointed out, too, that the high attrition rate of players recruited by DeRuyter, in part attributed to academic shortcomings, significantly contributed to the Bulldogs’ slide.
Castro told the Editorial Board this week that he investigated the California situation and found that the drop in classroom performance coincided with the Great Recession and cuts in funding for the football team’s academic support. Castro also said that Tedford talked about academics as much as he did about football when he interviewed for the Fresno State job.
“I think coach Tedford is the right guy for us,” Castro said. “He will develop student-athletes and leaders.”
Next season’s schedule is the kind that lends itself to character building more than victories, as the Bulldogs’ nonconference schedule includes road games against powerhouses Alabama and Washington.
Thus we advise the Red Wave to be patient and loyal.
In today’s college football landscape, the budget gap between the big boys of the so-called Power 5 conferences and universities like Fresno State is huge. And while a winning football team is much more fun to watch than a losing one, the fact is that just 128 colleges play at the NCAA’s highest level.
Fan support is essential to ensuring that Fresno State and Valley communities continue to enjoy the tradition, excitement and economic boost college football provides. Absent that support in the inevitable lean times, there is a real danger that Fresno State could be forced to downgrade its program to the small-college level. Or give up the sport entirely.
The university has done its part to begin rebuilding the football program by hiring Tedford. We hope the community does its part, too.