Ray Ratto

Circle of athletic life closes on Tedford's tenure


Circle of athletic life closes on Tedford's tenure

Jeff Tedfords epitaph at Cal is one that will look a lot better in a few years:

He was a good guy, he did a lot for the program, and he was the reason the facilities are now more quality and less quaint. He was a true servant of the University.

But because it is an epitaph, it ends badly. Sort of this way:

He broke out too fast, got peoples hopes all ginned up, and then hit the wall in Year Eight. And well, its hard world out there.

Tedford took the black spot Sunday morning, less than a day after his team closed out its miserable 2012 season with a mega-miserable 62-14 loss at Oregon State. The program that had given the world Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and any number of other quality professionals was now passed by and looking up at every Pacific 12 Conference school save Colorado and Washington State.

And it was as inevitable as it was sad, because thats how it works when pragmatism trumps sentimentality, and gratitude for services rendered can no longer be justified.

Tedford was stoic through it all, avoiding credit while making sure that his contract reflected the level of his deeds. Indeed, the contract might have shielded him from taking the pipe a year earlier. As it was, he ended with the longest tenure in Cal history, 82-57 with eight bowl appearances. His career stands on its own.

But college football moves faster and faster, and the building he helped juice has its own demands. Seats must be filled, suites must be bought, and cash generated. Cal built the place on the come, assuming the sellouts Tedford once routinely generated would continue.

The problem, though, was that the sellouts stopped when (a) the games were moved to San Francisco for construction reasons and (b) the results of the last two years chased people away. And Cals years of frantic deficit spending and a growing disenchantment of Cals quarterback-less offense made Tedfords unpleasant meeting with Sandy Barbour Sunday a fait accompli.

What does she do now? Well, the obvious names leap up -- Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State, Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech, Gary Anderson at Utah State, Chris Peterson at Boise State, and the usual raft of assistants and eager beavers looking for the breakout job Tedford once received.

And in truth, the job is less daunting than the one Tedford took on, but not by much. Stanford is a national elbow-thrower. UCLA is back after the wilderness of Rick Neuheisel. USC is, well, will be USC again, once it has paid its price for dropping trou at the NCAA. Washington is moving again, and Oregon is the center of the conference solar system.

Thus, Cal has much to do in an increasingly competitive world, while carrying a debt load that would make Albania cry. Barbour cant be wrong here without being the next one to go. She needs Ben Braun-for-Mike Montgomery 2.0, and nothing less will do.

Tedford built the program Cal should be, and then it came undone. Its the circle of athletic life. Now comes the fun part -- seeing if the man who replaces Tedford can replicate Tedford.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”