NCAA

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?

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

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AP

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

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USATSI

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
 
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
 
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
 
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
 
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
 
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.