Jeff Tedford's Firing Was Obvious Decision for Cal

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears walks the sidelines during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Cal had no choice but to fire coach Jeff Tedford.

The news just broke today, but this was a move most had seen coming for quite a while. It seems like a lifetime ago that Aaron Rodgers was leading the Golden Bears into the Coliseum to face USC in one of the year's biggest must-see games.

That game took place in 2003, and Cal finished the season 10-2. Only once—2006—did the Golden Bears win 10 games again.

With all the money funneled into college football and the growth of super conferences the margin for error is becoming smaller and smaller for coaches. A couple of bad years can put a program way behind in terms of recruiting, and make boosters less likely to open their wallets.

The Pac-12 had been dominated by USC and Oregon in recent years, but it's becoming more and more of a competitive conference. And with Cal in the tougher North Division, their struggles were being magnified.

Once lauded as a passing guru, Tedford has overseen a steady decline in Cal's air attack.

They rank only 91st in the nation in passing yards per game. Senior Zach Maynard's 295-yard, four-TD performance against UCLA was one of the few cases this season in which the passing game hit on all cylinders.

The offensive struggles could be offset by a good defense, but that's not one of Tedford's strengths. The Golden Bears are giving up 33 points a game this year, 99th in the nation.

The university higher-ups could only sit by for so long without taking some action. Had this year been an aberration, then Tedford would get a pass. But this season has been symbolic of a loss of stature in recent years.

While the program had become largely irrelevant before Tedford arrived, it was reaching a consistent level of mediocrity. Cal won five games in 2010 and seven games in 2011, but this year has been the nadir of Tedford's reign. The Golden Bears finished 2012 with a paltry 3-9 record.

Cal's descent in the Pac-12 is all the more infuriating for their fans because of the rise of their biggest rivals, Stanford. The Cardinal are proving they can be successful without Andrew Luck.

It only makes sense for Cal to start anew under a different head coach. The program hasn't undergone a huge drop in terms of allure, so the school should be able to reel in a very good replacement.

If Cal stuck with Tedford longer, they might have dug themselves into a hole that would take years to dig out of.