Ratto: Cal's Tedford lands illusory victory

February 3, 2011, 12:36 am
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In a major surprise, Letter Of Intent Day ended in a 120-way tie for first. Everyone got what they wanted, nobody missed on anyone, some schools even got more players they could use as part of their Grayshirting Builds Character campaign.In short, from College Park to College Station, the angels sing.But they sing particularly well at Cal, at least for a few days. The Golden Bears apparently exceeded expectations by becoming a consensus Top-15 recruiting destination, for whatever the hell that means. After all, the road to transfers, alumni unrest, firings and buyout clauses is paved with Top-15 recruiting classes.RELATED: National Signing Day -- Cal commitmentsOn the other hand, this is about as much as Jeff Tedford could have hoped for a class of incoming players whom opinion-makers can say was swell, thereby convincing people who believe the opinion-makers that Tedford has begun the process of restoring Cal to its early Tedfordian glory.In other words, no more of that 5-7 stuff. In other words, a quarterback that can win public support as Aaron Rodgers did back in the Pleistocene. In other words, fresh ticket buyers when the team returns to Strawberry Canyon. In other words, no more watching Stanford with clenched fists and Oregon with clenched teeth..RELATED: National Signing Day -- Stanford commitments
Well, okay, Oregon may have to be considered a bridge too far for the time being.Point is, Tedford needed a win today, and it looks like he may have gotten one, even though it is largely illusory. Nobody knows what recruiting classes do until they leave, which makes days like today an exercise in screw-your-buddy. As in, We got a guy you wanted. We dont know if were going to be happy we got him, but were very happy that you didnt. And while it is easy to dismiss this as just another shell game for the rubes, the fact is this is fairly big business in the South and Midwest. People hang on this stuff like beef sides in a meat truck, especially in areas where pro football and baseball cannot touch.And to the extent that Cal fans pay attention (avidly, but not in enormous numbers), this was a day Tedford needed badly.Since flaming out against Washington to end a season everyone agrees was a three-month influenza epidemic, Tedford has replaced his offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, wide receivers coach and secondary coach. Thats more than the usual turnover for Tedford, or any program whose coach has been in the same chair for nine years.While his contract still has plenty of time on it and Cal is in no position to force him into a buyout (even if it were so inclined, which it is not), the general satisfaction level in and around Telegraph Avenue has been on a steady decline.So even after you move past the fact that new blood must replace old, and that good players are better than bad ones, Tedford needed a day like this for others peace of mind. It is by most accounts one of his best hauls ever in the market, and even if it turns out not to be so, it is good enough for the here-and-now to keep the fan base mollified as the Year in Exile begins.Its a coat-rack day, something upon which he can hang his hat as he begins to reconstruct what he himself built. Of course, if youre a stickler for math and wonder how being in the Top 15 in a contest in which everyone tied for first actually helps, well, it doesnt. Its all part of the illusion in a sport that crowns a mythical champion and values argument over resolution.Plus, there are T-shirts. There are always T-shirts. Who cant like that?What'syour take? Email Rayand let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.