2012: Another referendum on Jeff Tedford

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2012: Another referendum on Jeff Tedford

Californias new football season, which begins Saturday against the Nevada Fighting Kaepernicks, is yet another referendum on Jeff Tedford. His ability to create a quarterback out of whole cloth, to steal 10 wins out of an eight-win schedule, to reprise his starting point 10 years ago.

What it is likely to be, though, is a celebration of new architecture. Memorial Stadium has been gussied up, even though it hasnt been fully paid for, and while that may mollify the fan base a bit, eventually it will come back to the central frustration in Berkeley.

Namely, that Oregon has overtaken it, Washington is closing fast, Stanfords most recent renaissance is not yet close to being done, and the window of opportunity without USC is closing again.

Tedfords regime has been by any measure a successful one, with the notable exception of the lack of a Rose Bowl appearance. In that way, he has matched the efforts of the previous nine coaches.

And while his true legacy at Cal is that he has been better at developing running backs, offensive and defensive linemen and defensive backs, he has annoyed some segments of the customer base by (a) promising too much too soon, and (b) watching as other conference schools developed new streams of income while his own has not.

Sure, wed like to humor those of you in the Anti-Tedford by saying he isnt a great play-caller, but since the chances of you knowing more about play-calling than him is essentially zero, well dismiss that one out of hand.

Nevertheless, Cals 11th version of TedfordBall is another strange one to comprehend based on such little evidence. There is still no Aaron Rodgers clone, the rest of the talent base is solid but not breathtaking, and there is the pretty new architecture to take into account.

Ultimately, though, Cals greatest challenge comes not by the identity of its coach, though, but as the new world order imposes itself on the Pac-12, the most traditionally hidebound of conferences.

The game hasnt changed, but the business has. All the new money that comes to Cal is the same money that goes to Washington State and Colorado and Arizona, and the same advantages that the schools with the flushest donors have remain the same advantages. The new TV money gets Cals athletic department out of debt, but the laws of supply and demand still are in force, and more stridently than ever.

First, everyone gets the same amount of TV money. Second, profit-making programs will always have an inherent advantage because that money doesnt stop coming in, and as the notions of revenue sharing with smaller schools become more and more objectionable to the financial powers, the pressure on mid-level programs like Cals will become that much greater.

And third, these are just plain volatile times in the business of squeezing money out of free labor.

These are athletic directors problems, true, but athletic directors can be loyal to their employees up to a point. The new money simply makes life more stressful.

As for Tedford, his task is to adjust to a wild new landscape in which coaches leashes are shorter because of the growing money, while waiting for new alums with open wallets come to Berkeley in hopes of keeping up with the heavy hitters elsewhere in the conference.

Even in a cyclical world like sports, the hierarchy in college football is pretty well set in concrete. His years at Cal have made the Bears a solid achiever competitively, but not a perennial power; these are the best times Cal has had in 60 years, but they remain an arms distance behind the ones who are.

Tedford represents surety, and continuity. He ranks 10th of the 124 FBS coaches in time served in one place, and he has watched 204 coaching changes occur in that time, not counting interims. In case youre wondering, those ahead of him remain:

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech (26 years)
Larry Blakeney, Troy (22 years)
Mack Brown, Texas (15)
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, and Bob Stoops, Oklahoma (14)
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest (12), Gary Patterson, TCU, Gary Pinkel, Missouri, and Mark Richt, Georgia (12).

And as much as college football is in flux, and the odds against a coaching getting into double digits at one place grow, this year referendum on Tedford will miss the point as much as all the others have. Cal needs to find out where it fits in the new world order well before it decides what to do about its most successful coach in six decades.

In the meantime, wont the stadium look pretty?

With Travis sidelined, Stanford can't slow down surging Oregon Ducks

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AP

With Travis sidelined, Stanford can't slow down surging Oregon Ducks

BOX SCORE

EUGENE, Ore. -- Chris Boucher had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Dylan Ennis scored 15 and No. 11 Oregon rolled to a 69-52 victory over Stanford on Saturday.

With preseason All-America forward Dillon Brooks on the bench and his left leg in a boot to protect a sprained foot, the Ducks (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) broke a 104-year-old school record with their 16th consecutive win and 38th in a row at home.

Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey each had 11 points for Oregon, which overcame 19 turnovers by shooting 11 of 25 from 3-point range and outrebounding Stanford 40-29.

Marcus Allen had 13 points as the only scorer in double figures for the Cardinal (11-9, 3-5). Stanford went more than eight minutes of the second half without a field goal, shot just 32.3 percent overall (20 of 62) and had two players foul out.

Oregon spotted the Cardinal the first five points and then hit four straight 3-pointers in taking a 16-7 lead. The margin grew to 20 late in the half as the Ducks went 8 of 17 beyond the arc and 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) overall.

Stanford, meanwhile, went the last five minutes of the half without a field goal and trailed 40-22.

The Ducks, who led by as many as 25 late in the game, have won their last six games by an average of 24.3 points.

BIG PICTURE

Stanford hasn't swept a conference road trip since 2010. The Cardinal hope to have leading scorer Reid Travis (16.6 ppg) back from a shoulder injury in time for a visit to California in eight days.

Oregon finishes the first half of the Pac-12 season next week at Utah and Colorado, a road trip it hasn't swept in four tries since the Utes and Buffaloes joined the conference in 2011.

UP NEXT

Stanford, now 0-6 against ranked teams, hits the Pac-12 midpoint at California on Jan. 29.

Oregon goes for its first 8-0 start to conference play in 91 years at Utah on Thursday. The Ducks finished 10-0 in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1925-26.

Report: Harbaugh, Michigan to spend final week of spring practice in Italy

Report: Harbaugh, Michigan to spend final week of spring practice in Italy

Undeterred by recent NCAA legislation, Jim Harbaugh is reportedly going international.

As noted by the Detroit Free Press, a post on Rivals affiliate TheWolverine.com reports that Michigan is planning to spend the final week of football spring practice in Rome, Italy. The team would not only practice several times on Italian soil, but would allow the team to visit the sights in the area and even leave players in Europe to study abroad for a semester.

The move would no doubt ruffle even more feathers in the football and NCAA communities after Harbaugh famously took the Wolverines to the IMG Academy down in Florida for spring practice last March. That prompted recent legislation that was passed at the NCAA convention in Nashville this week — a Harbaugh Rule if you will — that prohibited off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a playing season.

While it would seem that would rule out trips away from Ann Arbor for spring football practices, it appears the Michigan athletic department is going to push forward by exploiting a slight loophole in the language of the rule. While vacation periods may be off limits like spring break, it appears the Wolverines would be looking to leave town at the end of April, which would be after the semester ends  and does not fall into any scheduled vacation time.

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