Jeff Tedford’s quotes from my lengthy conversation with him earlier this week:
On asking fans for their support, but not blindly
This season obviously was disappointing, and there’s nobody more disappointed than I am. I’m sick to my stomach about it. This place means a lot to me and our success means a lot to me. I’m disappointed not only for our players and our coaches, but for our fans because I know how much they want us to be successful. I think it’s important that even though people are frustrated, and so am I, to still lend support to what we’re doing so it doesn’t get so quick to be negative. You’re going to have to battle through some things sometimes. I’m asking for their support. I’m as disappointed as anybody. I’m just asking for people to support us, and our players, so that we can move in the right direction. We don’t have to keep wallowing in this. Let’s try to look forward instead of looking back. Let’s be supportive of how we move forward and not look back to the bad things.
On declining other job offers illustrating his commitment to Cal
Even though there have been opportunities to go some other places, I’m completely focused on reaching our goals here. This year, we didn’t and I take responsibility for that. We need to be better coached. We need to play better. I’m not satisfied with eight wins. We’re going to do everything we can to define the problems and fix them. I’m completely committed to this. I have stayed here because I am committed to it. I’m committed. I know eight wins is not what we wanted. But there needs to be some support so we can move forward and not just look at the negative things. We’re going to do our best to learn from it and we’re going to work on it and continue to try to reach all of our goals. I totally appreciate where people want to go and what they want to do. We absolutely do as well. Are we going to be perfect? No. Am I going to be perfect? No. We’re going to have times where we have adversity. Part of this whole deal is overcoming adversity. Part of overcoming adversity is the help from our fans to help overcome it, provide the environment to help us overcome adversity – not pile on and make the adversity harder to overcome.
On his personal disappointment with the season
I feel terrible about it. There’s a knot in my stomach. I feel sick to my stomach every time I think about it. You lose sleep thinking about how you can improve and get better. There are a lot of internal expectations – we want to do well. But I don’t lose sight of how people take pride in our success and are disappointed in our failure. That is widespread because they care. I feel that as much as you could possibly imagine.
On correcting the problems being more than just “working harder.”
When I say we’re going to work harder, it doesn’t mean we’re going to just blow it off and work harder and just start over and do the same things that we’ve always done. We’re continually trying to develop our players, our coaches, and the whole program. We’re not going to just say it’s status quo and we’re going to just work harder at what we do. Part of the hard work is defining who you are and what you’re going to be, what you’re going to work at. It’s not about working so hard because we work very hard. It’s about working smart and it’s about defining what you can do. That’s the process we have to get done.
On why he contacted Bay Area News Group to speak to the fans
I felt like it was important to make a few points that I wanted to get across to the general public. It was important to get it out to people because this is really the only way I could send a message. I hear you and this is my response. This is the only way I know how to answer people’s questions. I know there are a lot of questions. I’m not naïve to the disappointment, I’m not naïve to the naysayers, I’m not naïve to the critics. I want them to know that I’m going to do my best to address the things because it’s important to me that we make people proud. There is a sense of making our alumni and our fans feel good about who we are. I haven’t lost sight of that. I understand that. I’m not callous to that and it does mean something to me and it means something to us. It means something to me that they’re not happy.
On explaining lopsided losses that the Bears ran into hot quarterbacks
It’s one thing to say we run into a guy with a hot hand, but we have to do something about that.
On trying to explain the lopsided losses
I’m disappointed we lost five games, but more than that probably is the way those went. You try to put your finger on why it happened because it’s never happened to us before. We’ve played great games, too. You try to figure that out. The first place I look is in the mirror. Is it motivation? Is it scheme? What is it? We have to make sure that we do whatever it takes to improve and not have those issues. I’m really anxious to get back at it already, to fix that – to evaluate, to find what the issues are.
On the lopsided losses becoming a trend
Once it happens once, you don’t think it’s going to happen again. That was just a fluke deal. But then when it happened at Washington, you look at why it happened like that. Sure, they played about as well as they can play and they were a team that grew a lot through the season, but it still shouldn’t happen like that.
On the frustration of the fans
I understand the frustrations. There’s nobody more frustrated than me. Eight wins is eight wins, but that’s not what we set out to do. We set out to be better than that. Whether that was false hope or not, I don’t know. Even if those five losses were close games, you wouldn’t be happy about it, but it wouldn’t be so perplexing. I think it’s important that even though people are frustrated, and so am I, to still lend support to what we’re doing so it doesn’t get so quick to be negative. You’re going to have to battle through some things sometimes.
On trying to learn from the season
Every year is a learning experience in some way, shape or form, and this is something we’ve never been through before. It was really odd. You have to ask why. I just think it’s a combination of playing poor on both sides of the ball. It’s matchups, it’s not making plays, it’s not being in position. Everybody has to take responsibility. It starts with coaching. It trickles down to execution and players. Everybody shoulders the burden of that.
On where you start in making the corrections
You have to go back and look at X’s and O’s first. Every year, you look to see if you are doing the right things schematically. Are your matchups right? Are your players executing? If they are not, why aren’t they? Is it coaching? Or is it just that the other guy is better than you are? I don’t think it’s one of the other. I think it’s a little bit of everything.
On his players not quitting, even though some believe that they did during the losses
I would assume the same thing. I would assume they are not playing hard. I’m at the hotel. I’m in the locker room. I see what they are like. But when the momentum gets away from you and you get down by 24, people are dejected. They look at that and think you don’t have any energy. You wouldn’t either if they just scored three touchdowns on you and you were three-and-out three times in a row.
On the team’s practice habits this year
Practices this year the practices have been as good and as energetic as ever.
On making changes
At every turn, there are certain things where you may feel like you have to do things differently. That’s part of the evaluation. Maybe we need to do some things differently. Maybe some of the things we’ve always done are not good enough. That applies to everything – how we do travel, how we do pregame, how we practice, everything.
Do we practice smart? Is there such a thing as working too hard? Are we efficient? I’m going to make a list of everything that we do and we’re going to talk about them, we’re going to gather information – coaching staff, and players. Players are definitely a part of it because they’re the ones who are living it and give you feedback. It’s important to get feedback from the staff and it’s important to get feedback from players.
On the support of the program
I think it’s important to thank everybody for the support that they’ve given and to know that we went through a year that we weren’t happy with and we’re going to do everything we can and make people proud of what they come to watch every weekend. But in order to do that, we need to stay positive at times when adversity hits. I thank them for the support, understanding their disappointment and understand that we’re disappointed. We need to all be able to put our best foot forward now and turn the page and start a new chapter.