This Saturday’s Big Game is Tedford’s 100th game. I wrote a column for BearTerritory.net about it (all the writers wrote something, it was a concerted effort). And because it’s a big deal, most of the columns are free for all to read, including mine.
I think that column is some of my best reporting work. A lot of research went into it, too much of which ended up on the cutting room floor as they say in the movies. So I wanted to share some more:
- 100 games is the 3rd most in Cal history behind Pappy (103) and Stub Allison (102). They’re both proof that one has to be pretty good as a coach to reach 100 games at Cal. (Pappy has 3 Rose Bowls to his name and Stub has 1)
- Tedford is 4th in all time wins, a game behind Pappy, and then in position to pass Andy Smith (74) and James Schaeffer (73) next year.
- His winning percentage is also exceptional. If the Bears can pull the upset Saturday he’ll be tied with Pappy for the best win percentage at 67% of their game (this excludes the coaches from 1925 and earlier, which includes Smith and Schaeffer. If you saw the percentage leaderboard, where there are 10 coaches in front of Tedford and Pappy, but all of them are 1925 and earlier, you’d readily understand why there is a tendency to focus on the “modern era” when it comes to winning percentage.)
- Probably the most “unfair” credit that Tedford gets is the number of bowl games, at least when it’s compared to previous coaches. The bowl revolution happened in the mid-90’s and so no coach other than Holmoe coached in an era when every bowl eligible team went to a bowl game. So the fact that no other Cal coach has been to 7 in a row doesn’t mean much in a historical context. Frankly, Pappy’s 3 Rose Bowls in a row is Cal’s most impressive Bowl stat.
- However, when one looks at the number of teams who have been bowl eligible each of the last eight seasons, it’s a pretty small list. After all, if Florida State can’t win one of it’s last two games, (Maryland and Florida), then the longest streak would be 19 (Florida). In the Pac-10, only USC has been bowl eligible every year during that stretch. While overall numbers were tough to come by (the best I could come up with is that through 2007’s bowls, only 12 teams had an eight year streak but one (Michigan) has fallen off that list) a team is in pretty elite company these days when they’ve been bowl eligible eight years in a row.
Point being, what Tedford has accomplished is pretty amazingly awesome.
I know, I know, we all want the Rose Bowl so bad we spit up blood every time the Bears are eliminated from contention. And yes, I know, we’re not looking in great shape to reach that mark in the next year or two. But, while I concede things aren’t as Rosy as I’d like, at the same time that’s not as true as one thinks. If the Bears had beaten Oregon State, we could have easily gotten a share of the conference title, and if the right teams lost in these last couple weeks, we still could have seen the chips fall the right way to end up in Pasadena. Said another way, our chances would be as good as Stanford’s are right now. Next year is an even year and generally, even years are the Bears good years minus continually losing to USC in LA. But you know what, if this year showed anything, it showed that there will be years where one doesn’t have to beat USC to go to the Rose Bowl.
I also know that the last three seasons have seen the Bears plateau a bit. But you know what, every coach hits a lull. People were ready to lynch Bellotti at Oregon after his slow stretch from 2002-2004, but guess what, 2005-2008 were his best years at Oregon. I know how much it’s like rubbing salt in one’s eyes to think that see Stanford leap-frog Cal with their new head coach and getting the wins we’ve been dying for years to get. But it’s just one year and they’ve peaked at opportune times during this season.
Please, go read my column. Go back and remember what it was like back then. If you’re too recent of a fan to do that, do your best to imagine. We’ve completely lost all sense of context in the last few years. We NEED to remember where we were and just how much has been accomplished. The 100 game mark for Tedford provides an opportunity to do that.
I don’t know that the Bears are going to be able to beat Stanford on Saturday (a post on that later). I don’t know that the Bears will do better than the Poinsettia Bowl this year. But what I know, and I mean know, with an absolute confidence unmatched besides my love for my wife and children and my faith in God and the Catholic Church, is that Tedford has been a great coach for Cal and there’s no reason to doubt that he’ll continue to be a great coach for the program.
Thanks Coach Tedford! Here’s to 100 more!