Tedford Almighty: Cal Football Coach Works Mini-Miracles for Bears

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Tedford Almighty: Cal Football Coach Works Mini-Miracles for Bears
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

The first time you meet Jeff Tedford, you might wonder what he did with his halo.

Might ask how he traded in his white robe for blues and golds.

Did he fly here—or simply walk across the San Francisco Bay?

In seven seasons with the Cal football program, he’s worked enough miracles to deserve it.

His divine transformation of the Strawberry Canyon—from 1-10 to the Top-10—has elicited praise, thanksgiving and even “Tedford is God” t-shirts.

He’s revered.

He’s worshiped.

He’s as close as Cal has come to transcendent in decades.

But, despite the celestial comparisons, it’s ultimately the tiny miracles that have distinguished him as a coach.

Take Monday.

Two days prior to his scheduled announcement of Cal’s starting QB, Tedford told the post-practice press corps that Kevin Riley would lead the Bears’ first drive Sept. 5 against Maryland.

The 47-year-old head coach chalked it up to trying to “avoid distractions.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

Last season, Riley shuffled in and out of the lineup in a season-long competition with back-up QB Nate Longshore that seemed to drag down both hurlers and the Bears—who finished fourth in the conference.

Last Friday, Cal’s coach told the Oakland Tribune he didn’t know who the Bears' starting QB would be in 2009. Three days later, he knew he couldn’t draw out the faux quarterback competition any longer.

With Monday’s announcement, Tedford’s mini-miracle was placing his faith in Riley when the redshirt junior needed it the most.

As great as sophomore Brock Mansion and redshirt freshman Beau Sweeney might one day be, this season will belong to Riley and Riley alone. One bad throw won’t bring Longshore running from the bench. One misread won’t mean sitting out this season’s bowl game.

Following an off-season spent rebuilding his mechanics and his confidence, Riley will have a Top-15 Cal team behind him—and a coach, confident enough to move up his coronation by a couple days.

Follow Grant Marek on Twitter: @Grant_Marek

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