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Road to recovery

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.

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  • Seth

    Jonathan, this injury to Best has me up at nights. Why all the cloudiness concerning the injury? Is this going to be a Bo Jackson type injury? I mean my God, that would be unbearable as a lifetime fan. This kid makes Reggie Bush look slow. Please, we need to know what the deal is. I realize it is hard to asses but we need to know. Please find out for us at some point. Please!

  • http://www.lross.net Lawrence Ross

    Wonderful job, Johnathan! I know this group can be demanding, needing any nugget of information possible (if you could put together a huge signing day extravaganza, that would be great!), but you did a great job this year. Get some rest, spring ball is right around the corner!

  • Robert

    J.O. do you have any insight on Delgado leaving? Was there unhappiness on either side?

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  • AL da BERKELEY KID

    JO did you get the feeling that MACK was leaning toward the DRAFT or returning to BERKELEY. He’s more NFL-ready than any other Bear (yes, Desean too). He was the most dominant offensive player on the team & his possible loss would be a critical blow to the rebuilding.

    Have you gotten a sense of agitation with Tedford regarding the tree-sitters’ hindering the MUCH NEEDED athletic center?

    Any dates for the SPRING PRACTICE??????

  • James Johnson

    What about the status of Bob Gregory as Defensive Coordinator?
    That has appeared to be a big weakness to me.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Seth, I don’t have any additional info or insights regarding Best at this time. But I agree that the vagueness about the injury is cause for concern. It’s hard to determine what to make of it at this point. But the fact that he is off crutches is significant. Cal said it was keeping him on crutches as a precaution, to limit the weight put on it.
    Robert, as far as I know there was no ill-will in Delgado’s departure. He simply left for another job. Delgado was with Tedford since he got here and is very respected as a coach.
    Kid, Mack is coming back. I just posted it today. I don’t think the tree-sitters are keeping Tedford up at night, especially during the season when he’s so focused on what’s going on. But I’m sure he’d like to see the situation get resolved as soon as possible, especially with the final month of recruiting looming.
    James, Gregory is still the def. coordinator. But two of the coaches under him have changed. Tosh Lupoi for Delgado as defensive line coach, and Al Simmons for R. Todd Littlejohn as defensive backs coach.

  • Ben

    Jonathan, speaking of Coach Tedford’s focus on play-calling, did you ever ask him whether he felt that that affected his ability to manage the clock? In no fewer than four games this year, clock mismanagement at the end of halves led to (missed) long field goal attempts or missed opportunities for scores because of running out of time. Remember the end of the 1st half in the UCLA game and the bowl game?

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Ben, the most glaring example I can remember is the UCLA game. He was asked about it after the game and said he didn’t want to leave too much time on the clock for UCLA to get the ball back. Not saying that’s right or wrong, but that was his reasoning.

  • dball

    I’m really happy for Tosh Lupoi and his promotion….for him to have played for Cal, stayed on as a graduate assistant, and now to get promoted to D-line coach…that’s really special and I wish him all the best! Go Bears!