NCAA Help Wanted: California

by Ryan Potter

Last Tuesday, the University of California fired the winningest coach in their program’s storied history, Jeff Tedford. From 2002 to 2012 Tedford accumulated an 82-57 record, including 5 victories in bowl games. However, since 2010, the Bears posted a sub-par 15-22 record, resulting in Tedford’s dismissal following an abysmal 3-9 season in 2012.

The outlook of the Cal program isn’t as bleak as it appears, however. Positioned in one of the nation’s recruiting “hot-beds”, whomever the Bears chose to replace Tedford has the opportunity to make a quick turnaround. Prior to the 2012 season, the university completed the construction of facilities that are some of the best in the PAC-12, including a $321M renovation of Memorial Stadium. Additionally, Cal’s tradition as one of the finest public universities in the nation make the program an easy sell to parents hoping that their child’s education will not be limited to football.

Several candidates are being bandied about to take the helm next season, let’s take a look at them:

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong was interviewed in 2001 before the program decided to hire then Oregon OC Jeff Tedford. In the years since, Strong has expressed his interest in the Cal job and spoken of his disappointment at not being chosen for it. After turning around the Louisville program, Strong has been mentioned as candidate for many high profile positions (including Arkansas, where he grew up). It’s hard for me to see making a lateral move to take over at a struggling program like Cal.

Chris Peterson took over at Boise State in 2006 and guided the Broncos as they continued their meteoric rise from FCS obscurity to perennial BCS bowl contenders. Hailing from the Bay Area (born and raised in Yuba City), Peterson knows how to recruit in Northern California and would be the perfect choice to take over at Cal. It would take a significant financial commitment for the Bears to lure him away from Boise and I don’t believe that the university is willing to devote the necessary 3 to 4 million dollars to making it happen.

Carolina Panthers defensive backs coach Hue Jackson is the “home-run” candidate being mentioned. Jackson spent the 1996 season in Berkeley as the Bears offensive coordinator under head coach Steve Mariucci. He also was head coach of the Oakland Raiders for one season going 8-8 and missing the playoffs. I wouldn’t bet on him returning to the college ranks anytime soon, however.

The man I think will ultimately be chosen to lead the Bears is San Jose State head coach Mike McIntyre. Before taking over at SJSU, McIntyre compiled an impressive resume as Duke’s defensive coordinator, winning Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010. Prior to his arrival, SJSU had been contemplating giving up FBS football. McIntyre slowly but surely turned the program around, going 1-10 in 2010, 5-7 in 2011, and 10-2 in 2012. Mike McIntyre possesses the kind of steady hand that will be required to get the program back on the right track and return Cal football to national prominence.

Ryan Potter can be reached on Twitter @RyanPotter26

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