According to ESPN Wisconsin, Aaron Rogers, who left Cal-Berkeley for the 2005 NFL Draft and The Green Bay Packers, and was the second example of Cal’s now former Head Coach’s Jeff Tedford’s ability to successfully develop quarterbacks (Kyle Boller was the first), was not pleased with the announcement that Tedford was fired on Tuesday.
As an update, to understand why Aaron’s upset, you have to go back to the 2005 NFL Draft. It was this blogger’s first NFL Draft, and had a front-row left side seat for Rogers as he stood at the podium. The smiling man you see here fully expected to be the Number One Pick in The 2005 NFL Draft, but sat stunned in the green room as the local team, across the Bay from UC Berkeley, selected Utah’s Alex Smith, rather than him. This is what the SBS account read then:
Cal’s Aaron Rodgers Finds a Home…Finally!
My conversation complete, I returned to my seat in the main room just as Oakland, which had just acquired Seattle’s 23rd pick in the First Round, was on the clock. I really thought the Raiders were going to pick Rodgers, but they didn’t, selecting Nebraska Cornerback Fabian Washington instead. The crowd was shocked. “By trading that pick to Oakland, Seattle did the Packers a huge favor,” observed Bill Chachkes. What followed was a kind of spiritually surreal scene as it seemed that everyone in the room knew — not expected, but knew — that the Green Bay Packers were going to choose to draft Aaron Rodgers. You could hear people whispering his name before the card was sent to the head table.
When Commissioner Tagliabue stepped forward to announce just that, the room erupted with applause. Some fans in the stands gave a standing ovation, and almost everyone in the press area clapped. The room itself breathed a sign of relief.
As soon as Rodgers emerged from the Green Room and onto the main stage, I got my pad and headed for the Interview Room. I knew it would be packed, so I wanted a choice seat. I got one. The Cal signal caller’s ordeal was the talk of the room, so everyone wondered how he was handling this. After all, he was suppose to be the Number One pick.
There were various reasons given for his drop to the 25th pick. Scott Parker said that the 49ers had Rodgers rated higher than other teams and so when the 49ers didn’t select him, he fell to the Packers, who needed him. Chachkes, who’s NL Scouting organization charts players bound for the NFL Draft, said that Rodgers private workouts were not that good. I don’t agree with him about that, but the reason may rest in his personality. Rodgers is a confident young man, and it may be that his approach could have been off-putting to the 49ers. Rodgers is a take-charge kind of person, and some people don’t know what to do with an approach that plays better in New York than in,..well, San Francisco.
Take his interview, which can be seen in full with a click here. Asked if he realized he was now the Number Two quarterback taken, Rodgers replied “I still think I’m the best quarterback in this draft.” And one of the reporters cracked “I agree.” Rodgers believes he’s good, and in Bret Fare, he’s about to work behind perhaps the most confident quarterback in the NFL.
The other reason for Rogers’ fall was the teaching techniques of Coach Tedford, then called “unorthodox” by many in the NFL. Rogers, it was said, would have to relearn a throwing motion for the NFL; Rogers was angry, and eager to prove everyone wrong, and that Cal Football under Jeff Tedford was here to stay.
Rogers said this about Tedford’ firing:
“It’s a terrible decision, terrible decision. And I think it’s disrespectful, too. (In) 2002, when I was recruited in December, they started taking about this stadium project. Coach had just come in, they went 7-5, they were just under academic probation so they couldn’t go to a bowl game. He’d taken a 1-10 team and made them 7-5. (He) 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. And so in 2002 … he was selling us on the stadium project. Now, 10 years later, that gets done. Some of the factors that went into that being delayed were some of the lawsuits that were filed against the university, from private citizens, from the city of Berkeley – people living in the trees. Coach Tedford endured some pretty difficult situations down there while his competitors – Oregon, Washington, Arizona schools – continued to improve their facilities. 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 (San Francisco) Bay, you get a 100-yard weight room. You have some competitive facilities now where you can really recruit some kids. And what do they do? They fire him. The winningest coach in history. It’s just a shame, because when you promise a guy the stuff that they promised him and he fulfills everything you ask him to do on the field, regardless of the injuries they had this year, to always continue to prepare those guys like I know he did, and then not give him the chance to recruit to that facilities is a shame. Rodgers, who played the 2003 and 2004 Pac-10 seasons for Tedford and helped Cal to an 8-6 finish in ’03 and a 10-2 finish in ’04, said he expects Tedford to be coaching again, whether it’s in college or as an NFL assistant. I see Coach, regardless, landing on his feet. He’s got a great wife. His two boys – Taylor I’ve known since he was a sophomore in high school, and Quinn was in junior high. And it was fun to see them as grown men this offseason. (Tedford) always said once those guys were grown up and out of college that he might be looking for another challenge, but I know he wanted to still be at Cal and see that thing through with the new facilities. But Coach, he can do it at every level. If he wants to challenge himself and take his game to the NFL level and look to eventually become a head coach, that’s easily within his talent level. If he wants to stay in college, then any university that hires him is going to get a hell of a guy and a great coach.”
Rogers’ blast could be damaging to Cal’s search for a head coach, because with an 82 – 57 record and eight bowl appearances, Jeff Tedford presents a high bar for the next coach to reach. While it’s too late now, I contend that Coach Tedford should have been given one more year to right the ship at Cal.
The question is, what’s the next coach going to want from Cal? That person should be interested in having an iron clad set of expectations in their contract, including grounds for termination based on performance. That was not in Tedford’s contract with the University of California; it should be in the agreement with the next coach at Cal.