October 20, 2012; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford watches game action against the Stanford Cardinal during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. The Stanford Cardinal defeated the California Golden Bears 21-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly reached a deal to hire Jeff Tedford as offensive coordinator, which is a key responsibility for a team that just finished last in the NFL in total offense. So who is Tedford, and why is a former college head coach who was fired from California the answer to turn around the Bucs offense?
Here are some facts to help you decide.
Tedford was a quarterback in college, and would go on to play professionally in Canada for six years. As soon as his playing career came to an end, he would transition to coaching, and would move back to the United States to coach at Fresno State in the early 90’s.
He was the offensive coordinator for the Bulldogs during some impressive years on offense, as he helped produce some key NFL talent. The most notable name is Trent Dilfer, who would go on to be a sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Tedford’s experience at Fresno was good enough to transition to a job at Oregon, where he would coach offense and quarterbacks during Akili Smith and Joey Harrington’s time in Eugene. Both were highly sought after draft picks, coached by Tedford before moving on to the pros.
The University of California would then offer Tedford their coaching job, and he’d instantly reward them for their faith. He brought the team a winning record in his first season, which is something Cal hadn’t done since 1993. During his first four years in charge, Tedford would coach first-round picks at quarterback in Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers.
Tedford continued to win with the Bears, but would change things up in 2008, when he would hire an offensive coordinator and shift his focus to defense and special teams. Things went downhill from there, as Cal would have only one more winning season under Tedford’s command, and he would eventually be fired by the school.
The primary takeaway here should be that Tedford’s most successful days as a college coach were the years when he was a primary playcaller. The Bears finished in the AP Top 25 three times under Tedford’s playcalling, and would never lose more than six games in a season during that time.
But his teams just didn’t compete the same way after he shifted away from calling plays. Is that a concern for a head coach? Yes, he should have retaken command of the offense and brought it back to a competitive level.
Luckily, Tedford’s job in Tampa won’t be as a head coach.
Tedford’s job in Tampa will be to run the offense and call plays, something he did with great success for over a decade in college. He won’t have the choice to coach defenders or special teamers, and he won’t feel the need to. Lovie Smith will assign the offense to Tedford, and he’ll do what he does best.
Is he a guaranteed grand slam of a coaching hire? Absolutely not. He has no pro experience, so there’s no way of being sure his playcalling and offensive knowledge will transfer to the NFL. But the long list of NFL talent he coached during his days in college speaks for itself.
Dilfer, Harrington, Smith, Rodgers, Boller, along with Marshawn Lynch, Shane Vereen, Keenan Allen, DeSean Jackson and more. The success of those players in the NFL isn’t and wasn’t his responsibility. He made them all look appealing enough to be sought after by NFL teams, who spent draft choices on these former Tedford players.
The signs are encouraging for Tedford, who has a chance to redeem himself by returning to the offensive side of coaching. But he still must prove that he can return to being a playcaller, and that his offensive instincts work in the NFL.
So what do you think of Jeff Tedford? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.