Pac-12 team fires its football coach


Pac-12 team fires its football coach

From Comcast SportsNetBERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Jeff Tedford made a downtrodden program relevant as coach at California, putting out competitive teams for a decade, developing dozens of NFL players and spearheading a facilities upgrade.When he was unable to match his own early on-field success in recent years he was fired after 11 years as coach.Cal fired Tedford on Tuesday, ending a tenure that began with great promise and ended with a disappointing run of mediocrity capped by his worst season as coach."This was a difficult decision made after considerable thought and analysis and reflection," athletic director Sandy Barbour said. "Jeff Tedford is a good man who has brought great success and celebration and to his university and deserves to occupy a place of honor in the Cal family. His legacy is unquestioned."Tedford engineered an impressive turnaround for the Bears after taking over a one-win team following the 2001 season. He won a school-record 82 games, churned out numerous NFL prospects and was a major factor in a 321 million stadium renovation.But after winning 10 games twice in his first five years and taking a share of the 2006 conference title, Tedford was unable to keep the Bears near the top of the Pac-12 conference anymore.The program bottomed out this season, losing the final five games to finish 3-9 for Tedford's worst season. The Bears lost to rival Stanford for the third straight season and the year was capped by the most lopsided losses of Tedford's career, a 59-17 home loss to Oregon followed by a season-ending 62-14 loss at Oregon State.Barbour met with Tedford the previous two days to discuss the future of the program and announced her decision Tuesday."I certainly wanted the answer to be Jeff," she said. "But I have that obligation to do what's right for Cal. It was a matter of did I believe that we could turn around some of these worrisome trends competitively and academically. Ultimately my conclusion was it wouldn't be deep enough to take us to where we need to be."Tedford released a statement thanking the school for the opportunity to coach there."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," he said. "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."Tedford is still owed 6.9 million over the final three years of his contract, although Barbour said the sides are working on a settlement. She also said no state funds or student fees will be used to pay Tedford or the new coach.Barbour said she would consider both NFL and college coaches and wanted to find a replacement quickly. Cal which will be aided by the firm ofDHRInternational in the search.The Cal players gave Tedford a standing ovation after getting the news."Everybody really respects coach a lot and loves coach a lot," offensive lineman Jordan Rigsbee said. "It really meant a lot to us to send him off in that way."Tedford established himself at Cal as a quarterback guru, helping develop Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers into first-round picks in his first three seasons after tutoring No. 3 overall pick Joey Harrington as offensive coordinator at Oregon.But if there was one reason for Tedford's downfall it was his inability to find another big-time quarterback after Rodgers left following the 2004 season. The Bears ran through a group of pedestrian passers like Joe Ayoob, Nate Longshore, Kevin Riley, Brock Mansion and Zach Maynard.The inability to pair an elite passer with the top-level talent at the skill positions proved to be Tedford's undoing. The Bears often put together some of the best recruiting classes on the West Coast and had 40 players drafted into the NFL, including eight first-round picks, under Tedford's leadership.Cal had 25 players on NFL rosters at the start of this season, ninth most in the nation. That includes stars like Rodgers, DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. But those star players were unable to get the Bears back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1958 season.The closest Cal came was in Rodgers' final season in 2004 when the Bears had a 10-1 regular season, losing 23-17 to eventual national champion Southern California. Texas beat out Cal for a Rose Bowl spot much to the dismay of the fan base. The Bears shared the conference title with USC in 2006 but lost the head-to-head matchup and settled for the Holiday Bowl.Cal's fortunes turned downward that next season after a 5-0 start. With the Bears poised to move into the No. 1 spot in the polls following a loss by LSU, they lost to Oregon State in the closing seconds. Starting with that game, Tedford had a 34-37 record over his final 5 seasons.The Bears even got passed by Stanford in the Pac-12 hierarchy to the dismay of the alumni, with the Cardinal in position to get that Rose Bowl bid that has eluded Cal over the years despite losing star quarterback Andrew Luck to the NFL.Adding to negatives for Tedford was news last month that Cal graduated only 48 percent of football players who entered school between 2002 and 2005 -- the lowest rate in the Pac-12. Barbour said in a letter to donors that the low graduation rate was a "great concern."The one bright spot in Tedford's final seasons came when Memorial Stadium reopened this fall following the major renovation. The modernized stadium and adjacent 150 million on-campus High Performance Center finally give Cal the facilities to compete with the rest of the conference.While Tedford's work rebuilding the program and fundraising for the project were integral in its success, his successor will ultimately reap the benefits."This is a great job," Barbour said. "It's been made better by Jeff Tedford. This is a very attractive job that will attract a number of candidates that will meet these criteria. We will have an opportunity to make a great choice."

Kelly: Slower-paced offense fits 49ers personnel

Kelly: Slower-paced offense fits 49ers personnel

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving 7 yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer. The 49ers managed just 4.1 yards per offensive play that season.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.

Anybody offering to help Mark Davis actually trying to help themselves

Anybody offering to help Mark Davis actually trying to help themselves

It’s usually a good day for anyone who holds a billion dollar asset. I mean, your day is not going to end sitting alone with a microwave dinner in a two-room apartment unless you’re the sort of life-battered misanthrope who prefers your day to end that way.

On the other hand, there’s Mark Davis, who desperately wants to upgrade the surroundings of his billion-dollar company but is finding out that (a) he can’t do it alone, and that (b) anyone willing to help him wants him to surrender his company in exchange.

Put another way, imagine that you want to upgrade your home and go to the bank for a home improvement loan, but the bank will only agree if it can have your kitchen and both bathrooms. Or pretend that you are a very good sprinter who wants to become world-class, but the only trainers who will work with you want you to saw off your right leg as collateral and convince you that hopping is the new Fosbury Flop.

We will now wait while you try to imagine what would have to happen for you to develop sympathy for Mark Davis.

Anyway, the latest shoe store to drop on him is the story that Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas billionaire who has pledged $650 million to the stadium that would house the Las Vegas Raiders, says he is willing to pull his money out of the deal because Davis wants too much (which is billionaire for “is willing to give up too little”).

This comes after the news from Oakland that Fortress Investment, a multi-billion dollar company which is allegedly bankrolling Ronnie Lott’s pitch to buy the Coliseum and (presumably) a piece of the Raiders, has presented a term sheet to Oakland and Alameda County that it would like to be rushed for presentation to the NFL owners.

In other words, Davis needs money to improve his team’s business profile, and anyone offering to help is going to want a significant piece of the business he is trying to improve in exchange. And that includes his fellow NFL owners, who have to vote to approve his move to Las Vegas – while the fee for their votes has not yet been expressed, you may rest assured that they aren’t doing him any favors for free.

Again, check your sympathy at the door. He inherited the business, thereby giving him a level of entitlement most people do not have.

But his options are as curious as they are varied, they all have a time element, and they all have pros and cons – the biggest con, of course, being that almost all of them end in him losing control of the team over time.

LAS VEGAS: Adelson clearly wants a piece of the team in exchange for his 33 percent contribution to the proposed $1.9 billion plant (he hasn’t said so, but nobody is buying any other version of the nature of his role). Davis needs 24 votes from his wealthier brethren, but their actions in the January vote that put the Rams in Inglewood and stopped the Chargers and Raiders from going to Carson showed where their respect for Davis truly lies. To allow him to move without strings is unthinkable for them, and what they seem to want most of Davis to divest himself, even incrementally, from day-to-day control.

INGLEWOOD: He still has the option to join Stan Kroenke in the Los Angeles venture if San Diego owner Dean Spanos either wins the hotel tax measure that would fund his new stadium or loses and declines the option he still holds on Inglewood. But Kroenke is a well-known squeezer of delicates (thus explaining the reason Spanos doesn’t want to join him) and would be the dominant figure in that relationship, both financially and tactically. He could conceivably hold his 40-plus percent control of the team (though Kroenke would not be above muscling in on that, too) but he would no longer be master of his domain.

OAKLAND: He could do business with Fortress, although the city and county seem unimpressed with the offer and their obligations within it, and Fortress would want its own piece of the franchise in exchange. Or he could stay in the Coliseum, as much as he may hate the place, and profit-take forever. He may be angry at the city for not rolling over for him, and he has tried to deflect blame for the current conditions on the city’s refusal to jump to his song, but Mayor Libby Schaaf has seen no compelling reason to worry about that – not even polling numbers. Her position is clearly, “If he stays, he stays, if he leaves, he leaves, and I’m good either way.”

In other words, there is no perfect scenario for Davis in any of these options. He gets a new home but loses a chunk of the only thing that makes him famous and/or rich, or he stays in a city whose power brokers are unmoved by his demands for better treatment, thus costing him the leverage he needs for the thing he says he wants most.

On the other hand, he still has a billion-dollar team that in the worst-case scenario he could sell for $2 billion-plus if he could slap Las Vegas or Los Angeles in front of the nickname. So no, there is no good reason why you should expend a moment’s pity toward him.

So he can either roll the dice and aim for the stars, knowing that anyone offering to help him is actually offering to help themselves to his belongings, or he can sit back and get comfortable with doing (and getting) nothing at all.

This, then, is what an NFL owner without leverage to get whatever he wants looks like. Think of it as you would a sighting of a great white elk – a once-in-a-lifetime thing that will stay within view for only a very short time. Bring binoculars and plenty of water. You’ll want stories for your grandchildren.