July 26, 2007

Tedford never stops extending Cal offense

LOS ANGELES Jeff Tedford's playbook keeps growing.

Some coaches live by the adage that if you add a play to the playbook, you throw one away. Not Tedford. He's a packrat as if he needs more ways to beat opposing defenses.

"We never throw any plays out," Tedford said. "That's my fault."

Tedford is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. He has sent a long list of quarterbacks to the NFL. More recently, he has helped produce some outstanding running backs as well.

Tedford has led Cal to final rankings in the AP poll for three consecutive seasons, the first such streak for the Bears since 1947-51. At Pac-10 Media Day, Cal was picked to finish second in the conference for the fourth consecutive year. Twice, Cal has lived up to that or better. Last year, The Bears finished with a share of the Pac-10 title with USC.

Tedford has turned around a program that was 1-10 before his arrival in 2002, but he's not entirely satisfied. His goal is to shed that "shared" label on the Pac-10 title and reach Cal's first Rose Bowl since the 1958 season.

"We've accomplished that we're going to be competitive on a yearly basis for a conference title," Tedford said. "Our goal when we got here was to compete for a conference title and at a national level. We've done that to a certain extent, but we need to break through and win it outright."

Cal enters 2007 in the same position it has occupied since Tedford arrived, chasing USC for the conference title. The Bears return 14 starters, including perhaps the best offensive playmaker in the Pac-10 - DeSean Jackson. Cal also as the luxury of a veteran quarterback and offensive line.

The challenge will be to replace three All-Pac-10 performers on the defense cornerback Daymeion Hughes, linebacker Desmond Bishop and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.

Even if the Bears don't get over the hump this season, they have the pieces in place to contend for years to come.

Despite protests and lawsuits, Tedford is optimistic the school's plan to renovate Memorial Stadium and build a new athletic facility will go through.

Tedford has received interest from other programs seeking head coaches, and has had two serious NFL offers in the last five seasons. However, he has committed to Cal by agreeing to a contract extension that will keep him in Berkeley until 2013.

"I don't really have any interest in going to the NFL," Tedford said. "I like college football. My family loves the Bay Area and Cal is a great place to be. There's no place I'd rather be. There's no reason to go anywhere."

That means the Tedford playbook could continue to grow.

As is usually the case with Tedford, the story is his offense. He has become one of the most respected offensive coaches in the game, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. During his stops at Fresno State, Oregon and Cal, quarterbacks Trent Dilfer, Billy Volek, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley, Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers have all gone to the NFL albeit with mixed results.

Lately, it's been running backs Marshawn Lynch and J.J. Arrington. Each was selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.

Tedford at Cal
Jeff Tedford's record at California:
YearRecordPac-10BowlFinal rank
20027-54-4NoneNR
20038-65-4InsightNR
200410-27-1Holiday9
20058-44-4Las Vegas25
200610-37-2Holiday14
Career43-2027-15
Tedford has had some NFL-caliber talent on his teams, but his offense has been one of the best in college. Cal has averaged at least 30 points per game in each of his seasons as head coach.

The magic, opponents say, is Tedford's ability to make the offense simple for his team but a challenge for the defense to decode.

He will run fewer than a dozen plays, but run them out of different formations. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, who was Tedford's boss during his tenure as the Ducks' offensive coordinator from 1998-2001, also said he'll use different personnel groups to mix things up a bit.

"He basically runs the same plays," Bellotti said. "The simplicity of it is what makes it work."

Try telling Tedford it's simple.

The offense has been culled from his stops in the Canadian Football League, Fresno State, Oregon and meetings with other coaches.

"I take a little bit from everywhere," Tedford said. "Everywhere we've been we've added a piece of it. We've grown so much that it's kind of out of whack. We're going to have to go back the other direction. It's uncontrollable."

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.




 

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