One of the more fascinating aspects of the Fresno State Bulldogs’ turnaround under coach Jeff Tedford is the staff that he assembled, which included an offensive coordinator that he had never worked with and his first defensive coordinator, who he brought down from the Canadian Football League.
But with 21 wins and one Mountain West Conference championship in the bank and a Dec. 15 Las Vegas Bowl matchup against Arizona State to go, the continuity of that staff is critical and Fresno State athletic director Terry Tumey said the athletic department would have an answer if and when schools make a run at poaching any of the Bulldogs’ position coaches.
“What you try to do is be fair with them,” Tumey said. “It’s very important in good times and in bad that you let your people know how much they mean to you and how you’re trying to build something and that their contributions are important.
“In winning times that becomes more important, but we’re definitely going to do that. I know Coach Tedford and I are of the same mind that we’re trying to build something special here, and in order to do that it would be great to keep the team together.”
The Bulldogs in going from a 1-11 season to 10-4 in Tedford’s first season and 11-2 this season also made significant statistical leaps with an offense led by coordinator Kalen DeBoer and a defense led by coordinator Bert Watts.
Fresno State in 2016 was ranked last in the Mountain West in scoring offense (17.7 points per game) and total offense (329.3 yards per game) and seventh in the conference in scoring defense (30.9 ppg) and sixth in total defense (415.1 ypg).
The Bulldogs this season are third in scoring offense (34.9 ppg) and fifth in total offense (420.4 ypg) and first in scoring defense (13.7 ppg) and total defense (323.8 ypg).
Most telling, perhaps: Fresno State, with its halftime adjustments, has outscored opponents 150-21 in the third quarter this season.
Understandably, Tedford wants to keep his staff intact.
The Bulldogs on offense have Ryan Grubb coaching the offensive line, Scott Thompson with the tight ends, Jaime Christian with the running backs and Kirby Moore with the wide receivers. On the other side of the ball, Jamar Cain works with the defensive line, J.D. Williams with the secondary and Kenwick Thompson with the linebackers; Thompson was hired this season, when Watts was promoted to defensive coordinator to replace Orlondo Steinauer, who returned to the CFL after one season at Fresno State and on Monday was promoted to coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The 10th on-field coach is Lucas Gingold, a Buchanan High grad, who works with the running backs and special teams.
“This is the time of year where it happens all over the country and I feel really fortunate that we have a great coaching staff here and I think it’s important to keep continuity on our coaching staff,” Tedford said.
“I think we have great people, we have great coaches and we built a foundation and you always would love to have the continuity on your staff each and every year.”
Fresno State has a salary pool for its on-field assistant coaches of about $1.8 million – in the top third of the Mountain West Conference, but not close to the top.
Boise State, which lost on its home field to the Bulldogs in the conference championship game, this season is paying its assistant coaches about $2.3 million. That is the largest salary pool in the Mountain West, but coach Bryan Harsin before the season told the Idaho Statesman that it was inadequate given the marketplace.
“The salary pool, no, it’s not where it needs to be because it’s been that way since 2014,” Harsin told the Statesman. “We haven’t made any adjustment – if anything, we went down … In today’s world, with what some of these coordinators and what some of these coaches are making, there’s a market that’s different, and if you want to be able to compete there you’ve got to have the ability to do that financially.
“It’s not even close to where it needs to be, in my opinion. We’ll keep working through those things.”
The Bulldogs will, as well.
“When you start winning conference championships you better start moving to the upper echelons of the conference because people are starting to deserve higher or more notable rewards for their efforts,” Tumey said.