Published November 13, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. – California coach Jeff Tedford said he expects to meet next week with athletic director Sandy Barbour to discuss his future after the Golden Bears finish their worst season during Tedford's tenure.
Tedford said Tuesday he will begin a thorough evaluation of what went wrong for the program as soon as the season ends Saturday night at No. 15 Oregon State.
"The first place I will look is in the mirror," Tedford said. "We'll do a deep dive and figure out where we can improve."
Tedford said he will meet with assistants and each player to get their input on how to improve the situation at Cal. The Bears (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12) are having their worst season since finishing with a 1-10 mark in 2001 that led to the firing of Tom Holmoe and the hiring of Tedford.
After a bright start to his tenure with seven wins his first year, a school record-tying 10 wins in 2004 and a share of the conference title in 2006, things began falling off the rails during what started as a promising 2007 campaign.
The Bears won their first five games that season and were poised to move into the top spot in the AP poll before losing at home to Oregon State. Starting with that loss, Tedford has a 34-36 mark over his last 70 games.
Cal failed to become bowl eligible for the first time under Tedford in 2010 and has been even worse this season. The Bears have lost four straight games — the longest skid since Tedford arrived — capped by a 59-17 loss last week to Oregon that was the most lopsided for the school since 1999.
"Teams go through adverse moments," defensive back Steve Williams said. "This is one of our adverse moments. Coach Tedford has been here a long time. He's been with us a long time. I'm behind him 100 percent."
The recent struggles led Tedford to this thorough evaluation, where he said he will look at every aspect of the program from recruiting to academics to practice format and scheme.
"We'll evaluate all of that and take coaches' input and all the coaches and figure out where we feel like we can improve in every phase," he said. "You really have to put a microscope on it. How can I be better as a head coach? What can I do to help the staff? What can I do to help our players?"
Whether Tedford will get that chance remains to be seen. If Cal decides to get rid of Tedford, the school would owe him $6.9 million for the final three years of his contract.
With recruiting season picking up in December, a decision on Tedford's status would likely come soon after the season ends. For now, Tedford is operating as though he will be back and is ready to start looking in depth at recruiting needs next week.
"We're moving forward as we have work to do," he said. "We're moving forward making plans to get where we need to be and do the things we need to do."
While Tedford acknowledged that recruiting off a down season can be difficult, he said he believes potential recruits will see an opportunity to play immediately at Cal and look at the improved facilities he helped get built.
The Bears finished their first season at renovated Memorial Stadium, which underwent a $321 million facelift. There is also a $150 million on-campus High Performance Center attached to the stadium that has modernized outdated facilities.
That is just part of Tedford's legacy, which also includes a school-record 85 wins.
"He's one of the hardest-working guys you'll ever be around," senior offensive lineman Tyler Rigsbee said. "He's kept a great attitude and kept this team together, which is not easy to do, especially this year with some really tough losses. Teams will disintegrate or guys will start bickering at each other. He's done a good job keeping us as a family. He's going to go back to the drawing board and work as hard as he can to get us in the position to win games."
There are also questions about the future of another key figure at Cal, star receiver Keenan Allen. Tedford said he expects Allen to decide next week whether to return for his senior season or leave early for the NFL.
Allen is the career record holder in receptions at Cal with 205. He has 2,570 yards receiving and 17 career touchdown catches. He will likely miss his third straight game this week with an injured left knee.
Allen is considered one of the top receivers eligible for the draft and Tedford said he will research where Allen would be projected to go if he decides to leave school early.
"That's important information," Tedford said. "I will try to gather as much information for him and sit down so he can make an educated decision. I'll support him in whatever he wants to do, but it's really important we get him all the proper information."