Jeff Tedford kept a relatively low public profile during his first month on the job, but that doesn’t mean Fresno State’s new football coach wasn’t making moves.
So far, Tedford has not shown himself as a big believer in news conferences – or perhaps he’s simply too busy. The 55-year-old coach answered the media’s questions Nov. 11 at Save Mart Center when he was officially introduced and again Nov. 29 after his first radio show. (He also sat down for a lengthy interview with our Robert Kuwada.)
Other than that, the new era of Bulldog football has been mostly operating behind the scenes.
There are reasons, certainly. Tedford has several mountainous tasks on his to-do list and very little time to accomplish them. Besides, the very nature of hiring coaches and recruiting requires a certain avoidance of the public eye.
One thing we’ve learned about Tedford is he isn’t swayed by sentiment. That became obvious as soon he jettisoned all nine assistants from Tim DeRuyter’s staff, including three who had direct ties to him or Fresno State, plus the director of football operations and director of player personnel. Strength and conditioning coach Thomas Stallworth will not return, either.
“It was hard,” Tedford said on the Doghouse Grill patio. “I contemplated it a lot. But after thinking about the experiences and what’s best for this program and what’s best for the players, I felt like it was important to start fresh.”
We have a job to do here, and I felt it was really important to start over with the message.
Jeff Tedford, on dismissing the entire 2016 coaching staff
After back-to-back 1-11 and 3-9 seasons, the difficult decision was also the correct one.
It was necessary to sever all ties to the previous regime and move on.
The five position coaches to come aboard so far also tell us something. Defensive backs coach J.D. Williams, running backs coach/special teams coordinator Jamie Christian and tight ends coach Scott Thompson are all former Bulldogs, wide receivers coach Kirby Moore is an intriguing cross-pollination, and linebackers coach Bert Watts played for Tedford at Cal.
This is not the first time Williams has coached at his alma mater – or joined up with Tedford. Williams was the Bulldogs’ secondary coach under Pat Hill in 2000-01 before leaving for Berkeley when Tedford landed the Cal job.
Williams spent the past two seasons at UNLV, whose roster includes Edison High School products Leevell Tatum and David Tate plus Bullard’s Charles Williams. The Coalinga native will now be tasked with keeping talented Valley players at home.
Williams spent the last two seasons at UNLV, where he successfully recruited Edison High’s Leevell Tatum and David Tate, plus Bullard’s Charles Williams. He will now be tasked with keeping talented Valley players at home.
Christian also has a reputation as a top-notch recruiter from his stints at UNLV, Houston, Arizona State and Sacramento State. With ties to California, Houston and Louisiana, he was named to Rivals’ top national recruiters list in 2013.
Unlike Williams and Christian, this is Thompson’s first crack at a full-time Football Bowl Subdivision coaching position. He comes to Fresno State after seven years at USC as an offensive assistant, director of player personnel and director of scouting. Those recruiting connections are sure to come in handy.
The youngest member of Tedford’s new staff didn’t play for Fresno State at all. In fact, Moore played against the Bulldogs as a Boise State wide receiver.
This is also Moore’s first full-time coaching position, having spent this season as a graduate assistant at Washington, overlapping Tedford’s time in Seattle as a consultant. What Moore lacks in coaching experience he makes up for in life experience. Tom, his dad, was a longtime high school coach, while older brother Kellen was a highly successful Boise State quarterback.
“Growing up in that family and being a sharp guy, he’s already seen a lot at a young age,” Washington coach Chris Petersen told The Seattle Times. “He’ll have that good work ethic, and you put all those combinations together and he’ll do whatever he wants to do.”
Tedford still has four staff openings. He needs an offensive coordinator, a defensive coordinator and coaches for the offensive and defensive lines. (There may also be room for a quarterbacks coach, depending on who becomes OC.)
With quarterback development and play calling the head coach’s forte, defensive coordinator becomes the crucial hire. Why the delay? Could be Tedford hasn’t been able to land the guys he wants. Could be the guys he wants are coaching in bowl games.
We’re working hard at it, and we’ll get the staff going, and we’ll hit the ground running when they get here.
Jeff Tedford, on recruiting
After spending the week on the road, the coaches returned to campus this weekend to host several recruits.
Tedford has secured four verbal commitments for his first recruiting class, three with direct ties to the program. The fathers of Ronnie Rivers and Clive Truschel both played at Fresno State, while Logun Javernick played at Ventura College where he was coached by former Bulldogs receiver and assistant Steve Mooshagian.
The fourth, West LA College quarterback Jorge Reyna, grew up in Downey – the same hometown as his new coach.
Tedford pledged to recruit the Valley, and he is. Fresno State has offered scholarships to multiple players from Bakersfield, a football-rich area the previous regime sadly neglected, and also JC defensive end/outside linebacker Emeka Ndoh, who played at Hanford High School and Immanuel. (Coaches cannot comment on offers per NCAA rules.)
At the same time, a handful of the 11 recruits who committed to the Bulldogs under the previous staff have already backed out. In many cases, the feeling was mutual. Also, tight end Donte Coleman announced his intention to transfer.
Once the recruiting dead period begins Monday and more staff are named, I’d expect Tedford to be more accessible to Bulldogs fans through the media. But for now, Fresno State’s new coach is quietly making progress.