Cal football coach Jeff Tedford sacked after 3-9 season

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.

Cal Memorial Stadium unveiled after 21 month renovation [08.27.12]
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]

Would you like a digest of the day’s Berkeley news in your inbox at the end of your working day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • John Holland

    Maybe if they had paid him better, he would’ve had some incentive to win some games!

  • Good point. Perhaps they’ll think about that in the new coach’s contract.

  • Berkeley resident & UC alum

     UC decision-makers should have known better than to build such an extravagant facility (on the fault, no less!) in order to please the coach. Of course, that has not been the only mistake made by UC decision-makers . . .

  • serkes

    Perhaps he’s implemented the MinderBinder Playbook.

    Lose 75% of the games, but make it up on volume.


  • serkes

    Though the Bay Area Psychic couldn’t forsee this, perhaps the season really was foreshadowed:


  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan


  • Charles_Siegel

    Mitt Romney’s theory: they gave him a high-enough salary, but the government took too much away in taxes.

  • Whew!  That was long overdue.  He hasn’t been winning.  As for the 48% graduation rate, well, we all know that Cal is harder than Stanford.  No surprise there.  (Um, did I mention I was a Cal alum?)

    I would love to see a P&L on the whole football franchise.  “Football brings in money — that’s why we have to be a powerhouse!”  Really?  Hmmmm….let’s add it up… $350 million at 6% for 30 years… that’ about $750 million dollars to pay back.  Yikes.  

    On the revenue side 6 home games a year x 65,000 seats x 50 a seat times 30 years = $585 million.  Then there are TV rights… about $20 million a year x 30 years – $600 million.  So we’re looking at $1.185 billion for total revenue over the next 30 years.

    Which leaves $435 million over the next 30 years for expenses to run the program…let’s see, that’s about $14.5 million a year to actually operate the football team.  That sounds like a lot but having run a business myself, it’s really not.

    This entire football experience (the expensive coach, expensive stadium, expensive seats, etc.) seems like a marginally profitable operation at best.

    This is all back-of-the-envelope and of course, the horse has already left the barn (wow, two metaphors in one sentence!).  Still, I’d like to put it out there that this whole “football brings in money argument” may be a big myth.

    Gee, maybe Cal should strive to be good at something else.  I dunno, say “academic excellence?”

    PS: Anyone have a link where they can actually find the profit/loss on football operations?

    PPS:  And whether they’re great or they suck, this Cal Band alum says “GO BEARS”! 

  • trillinwannabe

    You two are funny! 
    Or did I miss the irony?
    Pay Tedford better?
    That (non) go getter?

  • samothrellim

    In Clark Kerr’s memorable words, “I leave the University as I came: ‘Fired with enthusiasm'”.

  • Guest

    Maybe the State can look into it for us? Where’s the State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and State Controller John Chiang when you need them?

    Maybe we wouldn’t have needed prop 30 if the Cal athletics department was operating within reasonable means.

  • guest

     What about their concession sales, booster donations, revenue from Nike and other sports gear companies?  What about revenue from the Pac 12 etc?

  • Robrocker345

    Tedford’s salary is entirely funded by private donations.

    No — let me repeat — no tax dollars were used to pay for Tedford’s contract or for Memorial Stadium’s renovation.

    So Bill Lockyer and Prop 30 has nothing to do with this.

  • Rob

    Football didn’t operate at a loss. In fact, it funded nearly all the other Cal athletic teams.

  • serkes

    Everyone brightens a room.  

    Some when they enter.

    Others when they leave.
    (so good I wish I’d thought of that comment myself)Ira

  • Robrocker

     The stadium was built in 1923.

    That’s 89 years ago.

    It was time for a renovation.

    But the state of California could never fund such a project, so the Athletic department is using private donations and loans paid over 30 years to pay for the stadium.

    Now it’s earthquake-proof.

    You may think it’s a waste of money.

    But what if Cal football moved to the Raiders stadium, or what if they built a whole new stadium by the Albany racetrack?

    Then alumni and other Cal football fans will just bypass the university and the city of Berkeley.

    They won’t reconnect with the university.

    Tell me: What other event brings 60,000 to 70,000 people to Berkeley 6-7 times a year?

    Plus, studies show that academic giving goes up during football season.

    So a successful program, which requires a high-paid coach, and the renovated Memorial Stadium is actually pretty valuable.

    You may complain about Tedford making $2.3 million, but when he was good, it was totallly worth it.

    When you have the ability to generate many millions of dollars, you’re going to have to be highly paid. That’s the way it works. Unless you want mediocrity.

  • Guest

    Cal has been using tax dollars to pay on unsustainable debt since 2007:

    You drank the cool aid Rob

  • jeffrey carter

    When I was an undergraduate in the mid-60’s, I even then did not understand all the hype and expense of inter-collegiate athletics.  I always naively felt that the purpose of the university was to educate its students and further academic exploration.  My philosophy as it were hasn’t changed. And, obviously, neither has the UC system. What with $240 or so million to  retrofit and “improve” the football team’s facilities, the cost of attending the “public” university has risen astronomically—so far so, that private eastern universities are actually equally expensive or less (with more in scholarship funds) than the now, barely “public” university system in California.  I think the 240 million to rebuild the stadium could have been better spent in keeping a university education affordable for the students.   It’s fascinating that the funding for the stadium is allegedly private—-but what university did these donors  attend?  the university of football? or the university of california.   it’s a shame.   

  • You missed the irony.

  • Rob

     That money is being paid out over 30 years.

    And that money would never have gone to academics.

    What is better, 50,000 to 60,000 Cal alumni and fans reconnecting and converging on the UC Berkeley campus 6 to 7 times a year?

    Or 50,000 to 60,000 Cal alumni and fans NOT reconnecting and converging on the UC Berkeley campus 6 to 7 times a year?

    Which option, do you think, is more likely to generate donations to UC Berkeley’s academic side?

    Cal football, like it or not, is when and where most of the campus comes together.

    It is where we honored our Olympians just a few weeks ago.

    It is where we honor our Nobel Laureates, like George Smoot, Nobel winner in Physics  in 2006, before a game against Oregon that had more than 72,000 in attendance.

    The student section chanted loudly, “Nobel Prize! Nobel Prize!”

    Where else would that happen but at a football game?

    If you don’t understand why football is so important, I urge you to watch this 60 Minutes piece that aired 2 nights ago, which mentions Cal’s renovation.

  • Adornowest

    Anyone seriously interested in the effect of sports on higher education (including its funding) should look at the work of William Bowen and the discussions around it.

  • Hey Rob — the stadium was funded with private donations?  Thought the money was borrowed and had to be paid back.

    Or was it borrowed privately through some other mechanism to be paid back through football operations?

    Does any one have any pro-forma / forecast on what the cash flow streams will look like?

  • Chris


  • guest

    Tedford was the highest paid Cal employee.  It’s kind of odd to picture a lower paid employee firing a higher paid employee.

  • LKIM101015

    It is very difficult to recruit top athletes when facilities are terrible and it will be 2-4 years before the new ones on the drawing board will become a reality.  What self respecting “star” would not prefer to go elsewhere to hone his skills and prepare for life as a pro player?  Tedford is not at fault.  Yet he gets the shaft.  Unfair dismissal in my book.

    Signed:  Retired high school counselor.