…all sorts of bloggers are saying “Fire Tedford? Have you lost your mind? Do you know what it was like before he was here?”
Well, as a matter of fact, I know exactly what it was like, and it’s called Vanderbilt. And I assure you, if the Commodores were to find themselves suddenly in a position where they were regularly being ranked and winning 7 or 8 games and a bowl every year, I and those like me would be over the moon.
But if they lost every time they played in Mississippi, never beat Florida the whole time, couldn’t get into the SEC title game – well, we have a word for that too, and it’s called “Tennessee for most of Steve Spurrier’s reign at Florida.”
Look, I’m not saying “fire Tedford” at all. I’m saying that if you want to get to a level beyond where Cal is now, he may not be the guy to get you there. In one respect, Cal is unfortunate in that their rise back to respectability dovetailed almost precisely with Pete Carroll’s arrival at USC and the corresponding Trojan revival. But think about the games USC has lost in that span: almost always on the road, and always by a narrow margin. Two questions should loom huge:
1) When’s the last time USC got blown out?
2) When’s the last time USC lost a huge game?
For 1), I honestly can’t think of one. And for 2), the only one that springs to mind is the Rose Bowl against Texass (sic) – the 3-OT loss to Cal in ’03 was of a piece with the losses to Oregon State or Stanford. Now if Cal had won in ’04, the world would look very different today – but that’s neither here nor there.
Bottom like: USC wins in the clutch. Cal rarely does. Even though I’ll probably be there Saturday night, freezing my nuts off, I’m not kidding myself, because for all his success, Tedford hasn’t met the Ric Flair standard: if you wanna be the man, you gotta BEAT the man.