California Golden Bears: An Open Letter to Jeff Tedford

Evan Aczon@TwoSeamGripeSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2012

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 20: California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford walks the sidelines during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at California Memorial Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Dear Coach Tedford,

A few months ago, I wrote about how you would not be fired this year, at least not during the season. Now, your Golden Bears are 3-6 after an embarrassing loss to Utah, and it's even more apparent that Sandy Barbour and the Cal athletic department have a decision to make about you.

I still stand by my argument that I won't see any change here in 2012. There are just too many factors telling me it's not going to happen. Like cost. And the money. And the lack of replacement. And how much it will cost. 

But if there's one thing that I've finally come to realize about the way you run your teams and how things are different than before, it's that, for some reason beyond reason, you don't like shaking things up.

I wrestled with what bothers me so much, and I realized that I didn't really notice this whole "only starters start" mentality back when you first got here. Because our starters were good. Aaron Rodgers was good. We had a string of tailbacks who were good. Geoff MacArthur. DeSean Jackson. Lavelle Hawkins. Marshawn Lynch. Marvin Jones. All of our defensive players over the years. They were good. Really good. 

It started with Nate Longshore, though. Longshore was actually good, until he got hurt. Then, Kevin Riley had a chance to shine, and did pretty well, but when Longshore "recovered," he went right back in the starting lineup.

Now, I'm realizing that this is still happening all over the field. Kevin Riley should have started over Longshore a long time ago. Allen Bridgford and Brock Mansion were top quarterbacks in high school. Zach Maynard is not a good quarterback. Isi Sofele has no business being the every-down back. 

But you have this thing about starters starting. And I can't remember any time that I would think it more appropriate to break that tradition than this year. Again, Maynard is not throwing well. Last year, it was acceptable because at least he would throw into triple coverage to Keenan Allen instead of the easy dumpoff, yet here in 2012, he's not even doing that.

If the whole reason that he's starting is to keep Allen happy, and he's not even throwing him the ball anymore, then something has to change.

However, for some reason, you refuse to let anyone play who didn't earn a spot out of spring ball. Zach Kline was the best quarterback recruit in California. Kline is a local guy. The season is already lost, pretty much, and no one is going to fill up a shiny new stadium to watch Zach Maynard scramble, throw it away and get sacked. 

Which brings me to my next point. Where's the coach that ran a wide receiver screen pass for 70 yards on his first play from scrimmage? Where did you go? The offensive creativity is gone. I don't know if it's because you don't have playmakers anymore, but fly sweeps, draws on first and third down and uncomplicated passing routes just make it easy for defenses to slow the offense to a crawl. 

I feel like the Cal offensive playbook has like four pages in it. Draw. Bubble screen to Allen. Draw to the other side. Post pattern deep. Fly sweep. Rinse. Repeat. 

Get creative, please. The defense is good. It's that same old bend-not-break defense that allowed the Bears to beat good teams in the past. But there is nothing happening on the offensive side of the ball. And if you're not going to change up the plays and you're not going to change the personnel, then I'm not going to change my mind, and I'm going to clamor for your headset on a pike until something happens.

I've been rooting for the Golden Bears since I was a kid. I'm not going to stop. But Jeff, you're making this team extremely hard to watch.


Evan Aczon
Political Science, 2011