Thursday, January 18, 2007

SF Examiner: Don't read too much into Tedford's deal


So the folks at Cal have announced that football coach Jeff Tedford just got a contract extension through 2013, which can mean but one thing:  He'll be out of here by month's end.  Maybe the Dolphins, or the Steelers, or maybe even the Raiders, though the pay cut and loss of station would seem to be deal-breakers. Maybe he'll take the USC job when Pete Carroll replaces Marty Schottenheimer, A.J. Smith and both Alex and Dean Spanos. Hey, in these treacherous times, any rumor is as good as gospel.  In fairness, there is no particular reason to think that Tedford just hooked up for four more years because he is ready to find a new gig. It only seems that way given the Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino and everybody-else-in-the-business stories. Indeed, the Onion just reported that Bill Parcells admits to having always hated football, and that's as convincing a tale as anything else concerning a coach these days.

But maybe it's only because Saban went a few too many lies over the line, or that Petrino has alternated between staying at Louisville and the next pretty pro job that comes along for the last five years. Or maybe it's Carroll as the biggest elephant in the herd while Schottenheimer's job is hanging by a spool of floss. Who knows?  But when Tedford's new deal becomes public record, presumably after the Cal Board of Regents stamps the deal on Thursday, the only significant bit of information we need to glean is the value of his buyout. Everything else is, well, silliness.  Four years? Why not 40? Why not a lifetime deal? You have to be willing to believe that he wants to be at Cal forever to think that the length of the contract matters, and frankly, that seems awfully far-fetched.  And when we say far-fetched, what we mean is preposterous.  This is not to say that Tedford isn't content at Cal, or that for the moment, he means what he intends to sign. Today, he seems happy, his wife seems happy, his sons, who are 20 and 18, seem happy. In addition, athletic director Sandy Barbour, whose three principal jobs seem to be trying to get Memorial Stadium prettied up without offending the Berkeley political establishment and handing out contract extensions to Tedford and men's basketball coach Ben Braun in alternate years, seems happy.

And Cal fans? Well, the ones who have decided that the Golden Bears weren't actually meant to go to the Rose Bowl and don't resent Tedford for not beating a superior USC team in L.A. in November, they're happy, too. Everybody's happy.  For now. It's a coaching contract in a market gone mad, in a business where the truth has been undermined to the point where every statement now falls under the heading "a lie in training."  You see, Saban and Petrino have helped turn the contract into confetti, and the words behind it into great and steaming whoppers with prepositional phrases on the side. In other words, nothing is as it seems, not even mutual respect and convenience.  The working logic as it pertains to Tedford's future at Cal always has been that once his kids had finished high school, he would be available for other offers, and that date soon will be passed. In other words, one of the biggest non-job factors keeping him at Cal has been reached.  All of which tells us what, exactly? Well, given the prevailing market, it means that 2013 is an affectation on a contract that at this point can be considered only year-to-year. It tells us that Cal understands its vulnerabilities with Tedford, especially, given the still-uncertain status of the stadium upgrade, and because he cannot be given the final word that the stadium will be upgraded, he at least can get a contractual promise that he can stay as long as he likes until the upgrade.

True, the previous deal included a retention bonus that, if he stayed through 2009, would have made the deal worth $10 million over the five years. How this new deal affects that clause remains unknown until the deal is approved by the board and released to the public.  But this is important when you recognize that Saban got $32 million over eight years to go to Alabama, because suddenly Tedford's looking at a market that is running away from his next deal, let alone the one he already has. At some point, the math simply becomes oppressive.  In other words, Jeff Tedford is the Cal coach today, but you should exhale only after all the other jobs for 2007 are filled. Then go year to year, because that's all you are promised, no matter what the news release says and no matter how the contract reads.  And if you all behave very, very well, Tedford will be up-front and honest when the itch to wander finally strikes. It might not make you feel any better when he does decide to find a new bliss, but you can take at least minimal comfort in the fact that using something as antiquated as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth would elevate him far above the current industry standard.  Besides, by 2013, he'll probably have had two other jobs, anyway.




Richard Unger said...

Ratto is a troll

he hates Cal.

Cal Football Radical said...

I have to say, I do not much like his article or his current existence...