Jeff Tedford, Warriors Trade, A's . . and More
by Glenn Dickey
Jan 17, 2007

JEFF TEDFORD is the most successful Cal football coach since the early days of Pappy Waldorf, but there are still local columnists who have no idea of what kind of person he is.

In the wake of the announcement that Tedfordís contract had been extended for four years, one columnist who prides himself on his cynicism Ė keeps him from actually thinking about the subject Ė wrote that the contract doesnít really mean anything. Why? Because Bobby Pitrino, under contract to Louisville, jumped to the NFL Atlanta Falcons and Nick Saban, under contract to the Miami Dolphins, jumped back to the college ranks with Alabama.

Anybody who has talked one-on-one with Tedford, or even examined his record, knows that Tedford is not that kind of coach.

Tedford is not a jumper. Most young coaches move around quite a bit early in their careers, looking for the chance to advance themselves. Tedford, in contrast, has been remarkably stable.

After finishing his playing career with Calgary of the Canadian Football League, he spent three years there as an offensive assistant. Then, he moved to Fresno State, where he had played college ball, for six years, the last five as an offensive coordinator. His next stop was Oregon, where he was offensive coordinator for four years. Then, he became head coach at Cal, and heís been in Berkeley for five years and counting.

Thatís just four jobs in 18 years, and his progression was an orderly one, with each of his three moves a step up the ladder.

Moreover, as I wrote in my Jan. 9 Examiner column, Tedford is ideally suited to being a college coach. Every coach is tempted to prove himself on the highest level, so Tedford looked briefly at the Chicago Bears after the 2003 season, but that was it.

He likes college coaching, because heís a hands-on coach more than the administrator a pro coach must be. Heís constantly talking to his players, not just about their playing but their academics and their adjustment to university life. Graduation rates have gone up for football players since Tedford arrived, and that's no coincidence. He uses the academic status of the university in his recruiting.

Itís growing harder to remember the defeatist atmosphere that surrounded Cal football when Tedford arrived. He swept aside all the excuses, the supposed faculty opposition, the administrative bureaucracy, the seamy atmosphere on Telegraph Avenue. His first five seasons have all been winning season, with at least eight victories in four of them, including this yearís 10-3. Only Waldorf, who started his Cal coaching career with six straight winning seasons and five seasons with at least eight wins, has done better since World War II.

The only legitimate concern about Tedfordís staying has been the facilities issue. Tedford and his assistants have done a very good job of recruiting, but 18-year-olds are often disappointed by the Cal facilities, comparing them to other schools. I havenít visited all the conference schools but those who have tell me Cal trails other schools by a wide margin in that area.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour has been pushing hard for improved facilities, at the beginning of the total stadium project, and against the opposition of the always silly Berkeley city government. Itís planned to begin in April.

One other encouraging note: After a run in the Ď90s of inferior ADs Ė Bob Bockrath, John Kasser Ė Cal has been fortunate with Steve Gladstone and Barbour. Gladstone hired Tedford and Barbour has realized the importance of keeping him. Good work.

WARRIORS TRADE: Chris Mullin pulled off the seemingly impossible when he obtained Steven Jackson and Al Harrington, among others, and simultaneously got rid of Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy.

Mullin had been trying to get Harrington for some time. The multi-talented forward is a good fit for Don Nelson's offense.

Dunleavy and Murphy had been major disappointments, and they were a financial drag, as well. Dunleavy may do better in a different environment, but it wasn't working with the Warriors. Murphy has always been what I call a Fantasy team player. His stats look good, but he doesn't have the heart to mix it up inside.

AíS MOVES: The Aís have been quiet in the offseason, leaving the headlines to the Giants, but they made a very good move in signing Milton Bradley to a one-year contract, just before he would have gone to arbitration.

The trade before the 2006 season for Bradley was a controversial one, and it remained that way when Bradley spent much of the first half of the season on the disabled list. There was even an ill-timed column in midseason that claimed Aís players were fed up with Bradley and wanted him out of the clubhouse. Maybe some of the younger players were but the teamís veteran players spoke publicly in his support and Bradley soon went on a tear, which extended through a good run in the postseason.

Bradley is a fiery player which leads to some anger management issues, but he is the type of player the budget-conscious Aís have seldom had, an outstanding defensive player with good power who can also steal a base when itís needed.

Meanwhile, Aís owner Lew Wolff is still pushing his ill-advised Fremont ball park plan, which looks like a much better real estate deal than a ballpark plan. Wolff hopes to tap into the Silicon Valley crowd by positioning the Aís close to San Jose, but those people are already tied to the Giants. They arenít going to change allegiance just because the Aís are a few miles closer, especially since, with the fearsome rush hour traffic on 880, it may still be easier for them to get to the Giants park.

DARRALL IMHOFF: In discussing the 1959 NCAA champion Cal basketball team, Iíve mentioned that Darrall Imhoff is known primarily as one of the three players who tried to stop Wilt Chamberlain on the night he scored 100 points. As Darrall pointed out in a recent e-mail, thatís unfair. He actually had a good NBA career, until it was ended when he tore his ACL in 1971.

Imhoff was the starting center for the Lakers in the 1966-67 season and on the West All-Star team. He was traded with Archie Clark and Jerry Chambers to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1968 (for Chamberlain) and started for them for two years. ďWe did not ask for that trade and would not have gone to Philadelphia except for the offer to double our salaries!Ē Darrall wrote. He was traded to Cincinnati in 1970 and started for the Royals until his ACL injury.

NFL PLAYOFFS: When in doubt look to the best coach/quarterback combination, and thatís clearly Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in New England.

Brady did not have a great game against the Chargers, but when the game was on the line, he made the big play, bolstering the comparison with Joe Montana. If youíre into comparisons, another good one is Peyton Manning and Dan Marino. Both record-setting quarterbacks but Marino made only one Super Bowl, in which the Dolphins lost to the 49ers, and Manning may never even get to one.

BAD IDEA: The NFL is planning a regular season game in London in 2008, ostensibly because American football has had some popularity in England. But, we all know the real reason: To sell more NFL merchandise. Itís all about the money in pro sports, and so what if it disrupts the competitive schedule.

RAIDERS SEARCH: Donít you just love Al Davisís coaching search? The top candidates are all going to other jobs, so now, Davis is going to interview James Lofton, who was passed over for the Stanford job. Stanford!

The truth is, no coach who has another NFL opportunity is going to come to Oakland, where the owner is out of touch with reality but insists on keeping control.



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