After two days of talks, University Of California Athletic Director Sandy Barbour announced that Cal fired Jeff Tedford as head coach. This brings a sad end to a once-glorious career at Cal that lasted 10 years and produced far more good memories than bad ones, with Coach T posting an 82–57 record, and holding Cal Football records for most wins, games coached, and bowl game victories. But the last three years of Coach Tedford’s tenure were up-and-down: 5-7, 7-5, then 3-9 in 2012.
Rather than look back at the Tedford years for this blog post, the objective is to look forward and establish a set of criteria for the selection of a new Cal Football Head Coach. What spurred me to draft this was the constant and rather anti-intellectual presentation of “names” as if the shock of landing an A-list celebrity coach would immediately cause a national championship to materialize out of thin air.
To end this madness and set a course for the proper discussion and determination of who Cal should hire at the next head coach, I created a simple set of criteria for hiring and for determining when that hire should be terminated. Yes, you did read that last sentence correctly, because the problem with Coach Tedford’s contract was that it had a ceiling, but not a floor. That is, Coach Tedford was to get $1 million for coaching Cal to the BCS National Championship Game. But there was no contractually stated floor that can used used to determine when the Cal coach should be fired, and why. That left the creation of a mob-ruled, free-for-all climate rife with rumor and back channel conversation – and one that seemed to be larger than the management reach of Cal’s Athletic Director.
An established set of criteria will rightly restore proper decision-making order in the matter of Cal’s Head Coach, and help draw a course for future success. Without any further ado, here’s the criteria set, presented as “for hiring,” “annual evaluation,” and “grounds for termination.”
1: Won-Loss Record – How well did the candidate do in other programs? Or if an assistant, did they come from a winning program?
2. Offense – Defense System – What system are they known for? Can they articulate their approach to football? This is important because we can then have some idea of not just what kind of on-the-field product to expect, but it also allows us to determine how much football the candidate actually knows. Are we getting someone who knows the game well enough to keep up with stragetic trends, and can that person explain what they’re doing?
3. Student-Athlete Relations / Recruiting – Does the candidate have a good track record with students? Can the candidate walk into a living room and sell a university program, and what’s the person’s experience in doing this? This is important because if a potential hire has a problem with player discipline (like Mike Leach at Texas Tech), this focus will uncover that problem and allow us to avoid it before it becomes our problem.
4. People Skills – What kind of people skills does the candidate have? Is the person well-liked? Remember, they are the ambassador for Cal, and must work well with alumni as well as students.
These are the annual basic criteria we use to determine how well the Cal Football Coach is doing:
1. Won-Loss Record – Did the team do better than a floor of five wins? And were 80 percent of the losses by an average of three points or less?
2. Offensive and Defensive Performance: Offense should do better than a minimum of an average of 260 yards a game. Defense should allow less than an average of 250 yards per game. That combination should, absent turnovers, produce a terrific season record, and bowl-eligibility. For example, for 2012, Cal’s Offense Produced 391.2 yards per game, but the Defense allowed 441.2 yards per game. Now many will say this is a high standard, and it is. But consider that the current Team Defense Leader in the Pac-12 is averaging 324 yards per game, and you’ll realize that it’s not too much to ask – it’s doable as a mark of excellence.
3. Student Graduation Rates – This should be much better than 48 percent, but just what’s reasonable to expect is best answered by the Cal AD’s staff – they know the unique issues facing the Cal Football Player and that impact what the rate turns out to be.
Grounds For Termination
Grounds For Termination should be as follows:
1. Won-Loss Record at or below 5-wins for two straight years. And were 80 percent of the losses by an average of three points or less – if not, then termination should be more than likely. And if there’s some reason that it’s a boarderline issue – then the second set of criteria is used…
2. Offensive and Defensive Performance – using the template in the “Annual Evaluation” area above. If the program’s doing really well, and the losses are by a razor-thin margin, the performance criteria area will give us a good idea of how the team’s really doing on the field.
3. Student Graduation Rates, as explained earlier.
What I’ve presented is a simple, easy to remember, basis for identifying and selecting the next Cal Head Coach. This can, and should, produce a good list of potential candidates, and make the selection process easier, and give us more certainty.
In closing, I hope this blog post spurs other Cal Fans, Old Blues and Young Blues, to craft their own simple list of criteria. The real objective is toward a systems approach to the selection of the next leader of Cal Football.