Cal’s Tedford must win now

As each mediocre season passes, pressure has continued to build in the Jeff Tedford balloon.

The only way to release some of that pressure is win games.

If Tedford doesn’t win more games, that balloon may pop.

The winningest coach in Cal history enters his 11th season as the leader of the California Golden Bears, but has yet to win an outright Pac-12 conference title or qualify for a BCS bowl game. The Bears haven’t won a bowl game since 2008 and they missed out on the postseason entirely in 2010.

The public thinks of Tedford as a quarterback guru, but he’s struggled to develop a consistent starter over the last few seasons.

Senior Zach Maynard needs to absorb every bit of information Tedford has to offer. Maynard started every game last year, but was erratic. At Pac-12 Media Day, Tedford spoke about his starting quarterback:

“I have a lot of confidence in Zach. I think the early struggles were about game management and I think comes with experience and knowledge.”

Tedford may love his team, but he clearly doesn’t believe they are a Top 25 team. At least not yet. Tedford is voting in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and told The Oakland Tribune’s Jeff Faraudo that he didn’t put Cal on the list.

According to USA Today, Tedford will make $2.3 million this season, 4th among Pac-12 coaches behind Oregon’s Chip Kelly ($3.5 million), Washington’s Steve Sarkisian ($2.425 million) and USC’s Lane Kiffin ($2.406 million). With that kind of salary, Tedford needs to produce better results. Six or seven wins isn’t acceptable.

With Memorial Stadium’s renovation nearing completion, Tedford will have an added weapon when he hits the recruiting trail.┬áLocal recruits have routinely left for USC and Oregon because of what they can offer. Now Cal and Tedford should be able to hold on to local star high school players.

During the offseason, Tedford’s lack of influence in recruiting was exposed when defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi left to take the same position at Washington. Out the same door went a number of Cal’s top recruits.

Five-star recruits Ellis McCarthy and Shaq Thompson decommitted from Cal immediately, leaving for other Pac-12 schools. In its Pac-12 preview issue, Sports Illustrated quoted one scout as saying the players that bolted from Cal after Lupoi’s departure was a “class for the ages.”

The clock is ticking on Tedford. If he doesn’t show progress in the form of wins, if he doesn’t start to secure top recruits, he may find himself looking for a new job soon.