Dickey: Cal fans, Tedford’s here to stay 

In offering a contract extension to Jeff Tedford that should keep him in Berkeley for many years, the Cal athletic administration has learned from the mistakes of the past.

In 1991, as Bruce Snyder entered the final year of his contract, athletic director Dave Maggard was working on an extension. Before it could be concluded, Maggard left the university. His successor, Bob Bockrath, did nothing to keep Snyder, even after Snyder’s team went 10-2 and won a New Year’s Day bowl game, the first for Cal in more than 50 years.

When Tedford was hired as the Bears’ football coach, then-athletic director Steve Gladstone and associate AD Mark Stephens structured the contract with multiple incentive clauses. They were determined that Tedford would not be in a Snyder-like situation, where the coach was not being paid commensurate with his success.

Current AD Sandy Barbour has continued that practice. The extension, which was scheduled to be approved by the university regents Thursday, calls for Tedford to get more than $1.8 million, with the possibility of more if he reaches certain incentives — including an average 2.8 GPA for his players.

That puts him well ahead of the average for Pac-10 Conference coaches.

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That’s a sensible business decision. Cal averaged a record 64,318 in attendance per game last year, with more than 40,000 season tickets sold, and the early ticket-selling pace this year is ahead of last year’s. The library-sized crowds of the Tom Holmoe era are just a bad memory.

Though there are frequent rumors linking Tedford to pro jobs, everything he says and does indicates that he wants to stay at Berkeley for a long time.

Cal followers worry because Steve Mariucci jumped to the 49ers after one year, but Mariucci had always intended to use Cal as a springboard for a pro job. Tedford is a different animal. He much prefers college coaching.

Tedford really cares about his players. At practices, I’ve often seen him talk to individual players, both about their playing and their on-campus lives. Last year, he brought in Dr. Harry Edwards to speak specifically to the black players, because he knew Edwards could reach them in a way he couldn’t.

On the practice field, he’s hands-on, especially with his quarterbacks. Pro coaches just don’t do that; they’re more like the chairman of the board. I can’t imagine Tedford enjoying that environment.

There’s more continuity in college coaching, too. Successful college coaches usually stay in place longer than their pro counterparts, because success breeds success. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and consistent success makes the recruiting process easier.

Tedford maintains that recruiting hasn’t become easier for him, but that’s because he’s recruiting at a higher level. When he first came to Cal, he could only recruit the second tier athletes. Now, he gets into the homes of the top preps. It’s tough because he’s competing with the top national schools, from Notre Dame to the Florida schools, as well as Southern Cal, the dominant team in the Pac-10. But his recruiting classes have been strong.

In the last 60 years, Cal has not had coaching continuity; only Pappy Waldorf, whose last year was 1956, lasted 10 years.

But Tedford is a keeper. Now, Cal is working hard to make him one of those college coaches with a long, successful career at one school.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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