Head football coach Jeff Tedford, who was fired today. Photo: Joe Parks

Jeff Tedford, head coach of the Cal Golden Bears football team since 2002, was fired today after a 3-9 season and a combined 15-22 record over the last three seasons. Tedford was the highest paid state employee in California, with a salary of $2.3 million a year. His contract with Cal ran through the 2015 season.

“This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, one that required a thorough and thoughtful analysis of a complex set of factors,” Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said in a press statement. “Ultimately, I believed that we needed a change in direction to get our program back on the right track. Cal football is integral to our department and our university, and its influence can be felt well beyond the walls of Memorial Stadium. The program clearly serves as an important part of the connective tissue that binds our community together, and it is imperative that Cal football be recognized as a leader in competitive success, academic achievement and community engagement.” 

Although his final three seasons had poor results, Tedford is credited with turning around a football program that was in desperate shape when he arrived in 2002. The Bears had finished the 2001 season with a 1-10 record, the worst in the team’s history. Cal hadn’t managed a winning season since 1993. But Tedford posted a 7-5 record in his first season, and was named Pac-10 coach of the year. In 2004, the Bears had a season-finishing rank of 9th, and went undefeated at home. Tedford took his team to bowl games eight times in his 11 years. Teford’s overall record at Cal was 82-57, making him both the winningest and longest-tenured football coach in Cal’s history.

Forty Tedford-coached players have been selected in the NFL draft, including eight in the first round. Among the NFL stars who played for Tedford are Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and Seattle Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch.

Tedford also ran the football program through the $321 million renovation and seismic retrofit of Memorial Stadium, as well as the construction of the Simpson Student-Athlete Center for High Performance. He had been the leading voice arguing for the new facilities as essential for a successful future for Cal football.

In addition to the losing performance on the field, Tedford also attracted criticism when the most recent NCAA statistics showed Cal with the lowest graduation rate in Pac-12 football. Among students who started university in 2005, Cal’s graduation success rate for the football team measured by the NCAA was 48%. Rival Stanford graduated 90% of its players. The other two lowest Pac-12 schools were Washington State and Arizona, both of which graduated 53% of their players.

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With Stadium reopening near, Cal revamps ticket sales [08.07.12]
Old Cal Memorial Stadium for sale, one bleacher at a time [06.27.12]
Inside Berkeley’s newest, most discreet building [08.08.11]

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...