Sports

Hey, Coach Tedford, now’s not the time to get down. Conjure your inner Jim Sweeney and rally the Bulldogs

Someone needs a hug, and we’re just the caustic guy for the pick-me-upper at hand.

Jeff Tedford, you look like your puppy died. Your hat hung as you walked off the practice field the other day, your chin rubbing a foot-deep impression into your chest. Your voice on the Wednesday night coach’s show had melancholic cellos as a background score.

Are you really going to let a little loss to Air Force crush your feelers from here to golf season?

No! For the love of Jimmy Boy Sweeney, you’re going to take a spatula to your Fresno State footballers and scrape them off the floor Friday night against UNLV.

So what if you can’t beat a military school that redacted the forward pass from its General Officer Handbook? Who even cares at this point that you lost on last-possession picks to USC and Minnesota?

You are Jeffrey Ray Tedford, and we’ve had enough of watching you kick rocks from the sunken practice field to your upper-deck man cave over a 2-3 summation.

You’ve won 24 games in 33 swings since Fresno State hired you against my earnest recommendation – I wanted the next Jeff Tedford, not knowing the old Jeff Tedford was reborn.

The snow-globe win at Boise State in last year’s conference championship? Top-three moment in Bulldogs remember-whens.

The way you reimagined Tim DeRuyter’s one-win leftovers into a 10-win Michelin meal? You had Bulldog Stadium cooking for the first time since Derek Carr manned the grill.

You didn’t wake up stupid last week. You graduated an entire defense, and realized two picks too late that Jorge Reyna is not the new Marcus McMaryion, nor can any quarterback be behind an offensive line that won’t give so much as two Mississippis of protections.

You know what to do. Get over it, and get on with it.

Remember how you kept your first two teams on the level between national anthems? Nationally ranked, Others Receiving Votes, None of the Above, didn’t matter. You micro-bitted into their skulls that the next game is just another game, and the last game doesn’t matter.

You deal with teenagers and young adults who are fueled with adrenaline, rollicked by emotion and overstuffed with social media takes. For two years, you taught them to stay off the online grid and keep on the next-game path.

Do it again. Because, nothing has changed except the standings in the standings.

When they see you mope and mutter, it makes them mope and mutter. When they see you stride and believe, they’ll know that everything is going to be OK, whether things are OK or not.

And guess what? You’re going to be fine. In a world where San Jose State can win at Arkansas, we think your Bulldogs can bounce back and make a go at whoever is up, on deck and in the hole.

Why should you care if the stadium is half-empty tonight? This isn’t American Idol. Winners aren’t decided by judges in the seats.

Do what you did when Fresno State hired you. Ignore what everyone says, thinks and wishes they could say.

You’re not the next Tim DeRuyter. You don’t need to fire the defensive coordinator. Benching the quarterback will only serve to show us why the backup quarterback is the backup.

Better yet, do what El Sweeney would do.

Rip off your collared shirt in a fighting rage, sing Bulldog born and bred as off-key as you can, and stop sounding like you’re Bulldog dead.

David White is a former Fresno Bee staff writer and NFL beat writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, now a pastor and Sunday sports columnist for The Bee: bydw@sbcglobal.net, @bydavidwhite

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