University of California football coach Jeff Tedford was fired Tuesday in his 11th season at the school, and his most successful former player didn’t waste any time coming to his defense.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who started for Tedford in 2003 and ’04, disagreed strongly with his alma mater’s move during his weekly radio show on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee.
“It’s a terrible decision,” said Rodgers, a 2005 first-round pick and the 2011 NFL MVP. “And I think it’s disrespectful, too.
“In 2002, when I was recruited in December, they started talking about this stadium project. Coach had just come in. They went 7-5 but were under academic probation so they couldn’t go to a bowl game. He had taken a 1-10 team and made them 7-5. Turned (quarterback) Kyle Boller from what he was into a first-round draft pick. I know Kyle owes a lot of his success to coach Tedford and his tutelage.”
Tedford won a school-record 82 games at Cal and spearheaded massive stadium and facilities upgrades. This season, however, the Golden Bears were 3-9 overall and 2-5 at home in their first year back in remodeled Memorial Stadium. The school’s new $150 million High Performance Center adjacent to the stadium opened this fall.
“Coach Tedford endured some pretty difficult situations there while his competitors … in Washington, the Arizona schools, continued to improve their facilities,” Rodgers told ESPN 540. “Now you get some facilities in there, you get a new stadium, you get an awesome new top deck over there that can overlook the bay. You get a 100-yard weight room. You get some competitive facilities now where you can really recruit some kids, and what do they do? They fire him.
“Winningest coach in school history, and it’s a shame because when you promise a guy the stuff that they promised him and then he fulfills everything they ask him to do on the field, regardless of the injuries they have this year, he continued to prepare those guys like I know he did. To not give him a chance to recruit with those facilities is a shame.”