By Jonathan Okanes
Sunday, January 6th, 2008 at 9:53 pm in off-season stuff.
I think Jeff Tedford took a big step in curing some of the ills from the season by hiring an offensive coordinator today. If you haven’t heard, Tedford hired Frank Cignetti today as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Cignetti has been around for awhile, most recently as quarterbacks coach with the 49ers.
The biggest implication with this move is that Tedford will no longer be calling the plays. It’s a responsibility that I think may have been too consuming for Tedford during the season, and that may have made it harder for him to figure out how to stop the bleeding when things started going wrong.
Tedford has always been well-regarded as an offensive tactician, and it’s something he obviously takes seriously. But is it possible that he spent so much time trying to figure out how to get a first down on 3rd-and-7 that he lost a little sight of the big picture? It’s at least worth considering.
I asked Tedford as much today and he didn’t think so. He said he hadn’t let his duties as a play caller make him neglect other aspects of the program. He said he tried to always have a finger on the pulse of the team.
I am not doubting Tedford tried his hardest to oversee every facet of the program. But it’s possible that his responsibilities as play caller may have diverted his focus from other things without him really realizing it.
After all, Cal’s biggest shortcomings during the second half of the season were “big picture” type things like turnovers, penalties, mistakes, etc. I think Tedford’s new role will allow him to be more of an overseer and allow him to set a better tone that will impact every aspect of the team.
While Tedford said he didn’t feel as though his role as play caller caused neglect elsewhere, he did say hiring an offensive coordinator would allow him to focus on other important duties.
“The main reason for all this realignment of the staff is so I can be more efficient with my head coaching duties — spend more time with a lot of things,” he said. “Right now as the play caller, I kind of get so involved with the offense. I want to be able to have a chance to do some things with the defensive players and special teams.”
As many of you may have heard, there were other coaching changes. Defensive backs coach R. Todd Littlejohn was fired and replaced by Al Simmons, who coached cornerbacks at Cal from 1998-2000. Wide receivers coach Dan Ferrigno is also out, with former quarterbacks coach Kevin Daft replacing him. Cignetti is also the quarterbacks coach.
Also, defensive line coach Ken Delgado has left the program for another job, and graduate assistant Tosh Lupoi was promoted to replace him.
Jim Michalczik, who was the offensive coordinator last season, will return to being solely an offensive line coach. In reality Michalczik’s duties won’t change all that much. He wasn’t calling the plays anyway, but helping Tedford out with game planning. Michalczik will still do that.
As far as the rumor that Tedford was considering hiring 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer as offensive coordinator, he said “I don’t know where that came from.” Tedford did say that he is good friends with Dilfer and talks to him frequently, and talked to him to get his opinion about Cignetti.
Tedford said wide receiver DeSean Jackson and center Alex Mack are still going through the process to determine whether or not they should enter the NFL draft. They have until Jan. 15 to declare.
Tedford also said running back Jahvid Best likely won’t require surgery on his ailing hip. Best is off crutches now and still is waiting for some of his bruising to disappear to undergo some follow-up tests. Tedford seemed cautiously optimistic about Best’s prognosis.
That’s it for now. Thanks to all of you who posted your kind words about the season. I look forward to doing more and improving the coverage I can give you on this blog. I hope to have more coverage on some of the new coaches in the days to come.