UC Berkeley News


Five more years!
A rose is a rose is a rose, but there’s only one Tedford — and the Bears’ golden boy is firmly committed to Cal

| 08 December 2004

Coach Tedford met the press on Monday to answer questions about his new contract and the Bears’ prospects in the years to come. (Steve McConnell photo)
On the day after Bear boosters were bowled over by cruel fate and even crueler BCS computer rankings, Cal football coach Jeff Tedford gave them something to put Pasadena in perspective.

He’s staying. And not just for the duration of his previous five-year contract, but through 2009. Notre Dame, eat your heart out.

In his first three years at Berkeley, Tedford has led the newly golden Bears to consecutive winning seasons, taking them in 2004 to within a fraction of a point (.0129) and first-and-goal of the Rose Bowl, the holy grail for long-suffering Cal alums. At Monday’s announcement of his privately funded, five-year agreement — at a guaranteed $1.5 million annually, plus $300,000 in yearly incentives and a $2.5-million bonus for completing the contract — he was joined at Memorial Stadium by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. Seated at the dais before taking the podium, the beaming chancellor wrapped an arm around his A.D.’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze, a gesture that spoke volumes.

Keeping Tedford at Berkeley has been widely regarded as critical both to the football program’s continued success and to raising the funds needed to refurbish aging Memorial Stadium, where subpar training facilities, Tedford insists, hamper recruiting efforts.

“When we came here three years ago we had high expectations,” said the 43-year-old California native. “While we have accomplished some of those, we are not finished yet.”

He vowed to work “tirelessly” to stay in the hunt for a Pac- 10 championship and to ensure that Cal remains a force on the national football scene. And, like Birgenau and Barbour, he emphasized his team’s accomplishments both on and off the field, which in 2004 included a No. 4 national ranking as well as a rising GPA.

“It has always been my goal to build a strong program here at Cal that integrates academics and athletics,” Tedford said. “I’m very proud of our young men, and I just feel very, very fortunate to have the opportunity as we move forward to play a role in this program.”

In a season of Golden Bear highlights, tailback J.J. Arrington was a one-man highlight reel. (John Dunbar photo)
Tedford, a former offensive coordinator for Oregon and Fresno State, took a Cal team that went 1-10 in 2001 to a 7-5 record in his first season at Berkeley and a 10-1 record in 2004, resulting in back-to-back trips to bowl games for the first time in more than a decade. His achievements have inspired comparisons to the likes of legendary coach Pappy Waldorf, who led the 1949 Bears to their last 10-win season, and — among some irreverent Cal boosters — to God.

Tedford was thought to be on the short list of candidates for head coaching slots at the University of Washington and at Notre Dame, and has reportedly drawn interest from the NFL. He said Monday he “did not entertain any offers” from other schools, explaining that “my allegiance to Cal has grown.”

“My first months here people asked me, did I bleed blue-and-gold. Well, of course not, at that time. There has to be a tremendous investment before you can make that type of statement.

“Well,” he added, “that investment has been made.”

The feeling is clearly mutual. As Barbour said, “Cal has made a commitment and investment in Coach Tedford, and in turn, he has made a commitment to Cal.”

Cal’s only loss this season was to USC, the top-ranked team in the nation. The Bears came within nine yards of a potentially winning score in the final minutes of that game, only to fall short — and, it turned out, to have to settle for a trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl (to face No. 23 Texas Tech) instead of that other bowl in Pasadena.

For Tedford, USC was the year’s most unforgettable game.

“I think it’s typical that the ones you always remember the most are the ones that maybe didn’t go your way,” he said. “And for our kids to leave it on the line down there like they did… and for all intents and purposes outplay the No. 1 team in the country and come away without the victory — I think that’s the one that will stick in my mind the most.”

That, however, is history. On Monday, Tedford, Barbour, and Birgenau were focused mainly on things still to come, from the Holiday Bowl to a renovated Memorial Stadium — a project for which Barbour said an announcement was “very close.”

Birgeneau, noting that Berkeley ranked second worldwide in a recent study by the Times Higher Education Supplement in Great Britain (see “We’re #2! Now what?” in the Dec. 2 Berkeleyan), expressed a similar pride in Tedford, his staff, and his players, whom he called “model representatives of the University of California at Berkeley.”

“In the same way that we play a leadership role as an academic institution, it’s our goal that we play exactly the same role in our athletic program,” Birgeneau said, adding that the objective is “an athletic program that emphasizes both academics and athletics.”

As for Tedford, he was looking forward to telling his team the good news.

“When you look these young men in the eye, and you make commitments to them in recruiting, and you see what they do every single day, and the commitment that they put into the program — it’s gonna be great to look them in the eye and give ’em a hug and let them know that hey, we’re in this thing together for the next five years,” he said.

“We have a lot of work to do, but we’re gonna get it done together.”

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