The Colorado Buffaloes are in the midst of finding their next head football coach. We’re here to break down the top candidates and grade them based on how they would fit in at Colorado.
Jeff Tedford is one of the best coaches in the Group of Five, but he’s not at all an up-and-comer. Tedford, age 57, is a wily old veteran who went to Fresno State to rebuild his reputation as one of the better coaches in the game. If you remember when Cal was actually good at football, that was Tedford. He led the Golden Bears to an 82-57 record from 2002 and 2012, and though his teams were mediocre after 2009, he coached them the national relevance of a consistent Top-25 team. He was fired from Cal because he stopped caring about academics at one of the best universities in the world.
After departing from Cal, Tedford spent time in the NFL and CFL before going to Fresno State. In 2014, he was hired as offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay, but he had heart issues that forced him out of that role before the season started. Then in 2015, he coached for the BC Lions where he struggled with leadership.
Now at Fresno State, where he spent his early career as an assistant, Tedford has coached the Bulldogs to 9-2 in 2018 and he had them at 10-4 last year. These Bulldogs teams are among the best in the Group of Five and are currently third best in a loaded Mountain West (behind Utah State and Boise State).
Tedford’s teams have usually operated on offense with QB-friendly pro-style systems. His running backs will get heavy usage and the passing game will thrive on play action. That’s great if you have the personnel — star running backs and a solid offensive line, which he always in successful seasons — but Colorado was built for an air raid offense. That doesn’t mean CU can’t change or that they shouldn’t do everything they can to rebuild their line, but it would mean an awkward fit, at least from the start. This would be especially true if CU hung on to Darrin Chiaverini, which they absolutely should.
Recruiting & Player Development
Looking back at Cal’s old rosters, it’s no wonder they were so successful. Just look at the star players, Tedford developed: Aaron Rodgers (QB), Marshawn Lynch (RB), DeSean Jackson (WR), Jahvid Best (RB), J.J. Arrington (RB), Keenan Allen (WR), Cameron Jordan (DE), Shane Vereen (RB), Alex Mack (C), C.J. Anderson (RB), Tyson Alualu (DT), Mychal Kendricks (LB), Marvin Jones (WR), Lorenzo Alexander (OLB), Justin Forsett (RB), Mitchell Schwartz (OT) and Brandon Mebane (DL).
Many of those players were superb recruits from L.A. and Oakland that Tedford managed to bring to a non-powerhouse school. Others, such as Rodgers and Jordan, were under-the-radar finds and then developed into stars.
Tedford is noted for his quarterback development. Including his assistant coaching, he’s worked with six first round picks: Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers. For the nerds among us, he also coached career backups Billy Volek and A.J. Feeley. It’s not Tedford’s fault all of them busted except for Rodgers, but if Trent Dilfer is the 6th overall pick, should you credit the coach for making him that good?
Tedford is respected as a coach and recruiter — and has the personality to match — but he was fired from the BC Lions after one disappointing season for supposedly losing control of the team. After watching CU the past two years, that’s not something we would want. Tedford also had issues with administration at Cal for having less than 50% of his players graduate. Colorado’s board of regents would want to avoid a coach who overlooks academics.
Tedford’s contract pays him around $1.5 million through 2021. Colorado would easily be able to afford him, if both parties even wanted each other.
Interest in Colorado
Tedford has deep ties to Fresno State and may want to stay put. Otherwise, Colorado would be his shot to get back to major college football. At CU, he could try to rebuild the super-talented Cal teams and fully rebuild his reputation.
Cumulative GPA: 2.83
Colorado should stay away from Tedford. He has a great track record and was able to recruit studs to a non-traditional power, but even those teams consistenly underwhelmed compared to expectations. It’s troubling too that Tedford has left multiple jobs under strenuous circumstances. Colorado shouldn’t settle for a problematic coach with less than stellar results.