After 11 seasons and an 82-57 record as the head coach at Cal, Jeff Tedford was fired on Tuesday morning. The Golden Bears concluded their 2012 season with a 62-14 loss to Oregon State on Saturday, dropping their record to 3-9. With nearly a dozen years on the job, Tedford was the longest continuously-tenured head coach in the Pac-12 and leaves the program in undeniably better shape than he found it.
Tedford, who inherited a team that went 1-10 the year before his arrival, led Cal to heights previously unseen, including two 10-win seasons, a share of the 2006 Pac-10 title and one top 10 finish. Tedford's tenure as a head coach and quarterback guru peaked in 2004, when junior college product-turned first round NFL draft pick Aaron Rodgers led the Bears to a 10-2 record, a No. 9 finish and within a hair of beating eventual national champion USC.
After appearing in seven consecutive bowl games from 2003-09, this season marks the second time in three seasons that Cal will miss a bowl game. The Bears haven't finished a season ranked in the final AP top 25 since 2006. Tedford's position of expertise, quarterback, slipped noticeably this season as the Bears ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in passing yardage and passing efficiency.
The firing comes just months after Cal AD Sandy Barbour gave Tedford a ringing endorsement.
"Jeff Tedford is not on the hot seat. We want to win and we will win with Jeff Tedford...Anybody who wants to talk about Jeff Tedford being on the hot seat, I challenge them to go and look at his body of work, look at what he has done with facilities that would be poor high school facilities. Jeff Tedford has worked miracles at Cal. He's an icon as far as I'm concerned."
The exact amount of Tedford's buyout is unknown, but Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury - News estimates it to be around $7 million.
The Tedford era met an unceremonious end as Cal ended the 2012 season on a five-game losing streak in which the Bears were beaten by an average score of 42-14 and the newly-renovated Memorial Stadium sat mostly empty for a nationally televised Friday night game with Washington.
In the official statement delivered by the university, Barbour had this to say: "This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, one that required a thorough and thoughtful analysis of a complex set of factors," she said. "Ultimately, I believed that we needed a change in direction to get our program back on the right track."
Below is a statement from Jeff Tedford:
“I want to thank the University of California for the opportunity to be a part of this great university and community. I am so grateful to all of the coaches, players and support staff for playing such a vital role in making Cal Football relevant while enjoying winning seasons nine of 11 years. All involved can feel a great sense of pride with their sacrifice, contributions and commitment that have made it possible to have the winningest tenure in Cal Football history. We all can be very proud of helping to build a renovated Memorial Stadium that will have a positive impact on many athletes, fans and staff members for years to come. I will never forget the most gratifying part of these last 11 years, and that has been the relationships with the players I have had the special opportunity to watch grow academically, physically, socially and spiritually. To watch this process and be a part of their growth and development has been a blessing. The Tedford family is blessed to have built so many great relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime. I am most proud that through the sacrifices we have made over the last 11 years, my wife and two sons are the foundation and joy of my life. We wish the university much success – Go Bears!”
Tedford is a good man.