NCAA

2012: Another referendum on Jeff Tedford

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2012: Another referendum on Jeff Tedford

Californias new football season, which begins Saturday against the Nevada Fighting Kaepernicks, is yet another referendum on Jeff Tedford. His ability to create a quarterback out of whole cloth, to steal 10 wins out of an eight-win schedule, to reprise his starting point 10 years ago.

What it is likely to be, though, is a celebration of new architecture. Memorial Stadium has been gussied up, even though it hasnt been fully paid for, and while that may mollify the fan base a bit, eventually it will come back to the central frustration in Berkeley.

Namely, that Oregon has overtaken it, Washington is closing fast, Stanfords most recent renaissance is not yet close to being done, and the window of opportunity without USC is closing again.

Tedfords regime has been by any measure a successful one, with the notable exception of the lack of a Rose Bowl appearance. In that way, he has matched the efforts of the previous nine coaches.

And while his true legacy at Cal is that he has been better at developing running backs, offensive and defensive linemen and defensive backs, he has annoyed some segments of the customer base by (a) promising too much too soon, and (b) watching as other conference schools developed new streams of income while his own has not.

Sure, wed like to humor those of you in the Anti-Tedford by saying he isnt a great play-caller, but since the chances of you knowing more about play-calling than him is essentially zero, well dismiss that one out of hand.

Nevertheless, Cals 11th version of TedfordBall is another strange one to comprehend based on such little evidence. There is still no Aaron Rodgers clone, the rest of the talent base is solid but not breathtaking, and there is the pretty new architecture to take into account.

Ultimately, though, Cals greatest challenge comes not by the identity of its coach, though, but as the new world order imposes itself on the Pac-12, the most traditionally hidebound of conferences.

The game hasnt changed, but the business has. All the new money that comes to Cal is the same money that goes to Washington State and Colorado and Arizona, and the same advantages that the schools with the flushest donors have remain the same advantages. The new TV money gets Cals athletic department out of debt, but the laws of supply and demand still are in force, and more stridently than ever.

First, everyone gets the same amount of TV money. Second, profit-making programs will always have an inherent advantage because that money doesnt stop coming in, and as the notions of revenue sharing with smaller schools become more and more objectionable to the financial powers, the pressure on mid-level programs like Cals will become that much greater.

And third, these are just plain volatile times in the business of squeezing money out of free labor.

These are athletic directors problems, true, but athletic directors can be loyal to their employees up to a point. The new money simply makes life more stressful.

As for Tedford, his task is to adjust to a wild new landscape in which coaches leashes are shorter because of the growing money, while waiting for new alums with open wallets come to Berkeley in hopes of keeping up with the heavy hitters elsewhere in the conference.

Even in a cyclical world like sports, the hierarchy in college football is pretty well set in concrete. His years at Cal have made the Bears a solid achiever competitively, but not a perennial power; these are the best times Cal has had in 60 years, but they remain an arms distance behind the ones who are.

Tedford represents surety, and continuity. He ranks 10th of the 124 FBS coaches in time served in one place, and he has watched 204 coaching changes occur in that time, not counting interims. In case youre wondering, those ahead of him remain:

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech (26 years)
Larry Blakeney, Troy (22 years)
Mack Brown, Texas (15)
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, and Bob Stoops, Oklahoma (14)
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest (12), Gary Patterson, TCU, Gary Pinkel, Missouri, and Mark Richt, Georgia (12).

And as much as college football is in flux, and the odds against a coaching getting into double digits at one place grow, this year referendum on Tedford will miss the point as much as all the others have. Cal needs to find out where it fits in the new world order well before it decides what to do about its most successful coach in six decades.

In the meantime, wont the stadium look pretty?

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.