Cal finishes roller-coaster recruiting on a down note

Cal head Coach Jeff Tedford talks about recruitment and the recent decisions on National Signing Day.
Mary Zheng/Staff
Cal head Coach Jeff Tedford talks about recruitment and the recent decisions on National Signing Day.

It’s nearly 5 p.m. in a scheduled 4. p.m. press conference, and head coach Jeff Tedford is nowhere to be seen. But when wide receiver and Cal commit Bryce Treggs comes live on television to make his decision, Tedford shows up just in time.

Treggs, who called himself “a man of my words,” stuck by his commitment by donning the Cal hat, and Tedford gave away a slight smile of relief. Now the press conference could start.

“I was waiting for that to begin,” Tedford said.

Treggs was the last player on the Bears’ verbal commitment list to declare on Wednesday, and finally, the long National Signing Day came to a close. Sixteen players in total committed to play for Cal, but the day was not about congratulating the players in completing their move to Berkeley.

It was about the people that were no longer part of the Cal football community.

There were many elephants in the room during the press conference, but none were bigger than former defensive line coach and star recruiter Tosh Lupoi. Lupoi, who played under Tedford, was the glue that formed Cal’s top-10 recruiting class. But with 14 days left before National Signing Day, Lupoi bolted to Washington alongside wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau, luring top recruits like safety Shaq Thompson away from the Bears to join him at Seattle.

After a bombardment of questions regarding Lupoi, Tedford had to cut the conversation short.

“This is not a trial about Tosh,” Tedford said. “This (conference) is about our recruiting class. So can we please talk about the recruiting class?”

Despite losing highly coveted commits like Thompson, defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy and wide receiver Jordan Payton, the Bears are still bringing a talented class into the newly renovated Memorial Stadium. The crown jewel of this class is quarterback Zach Kline, who’s already attending Berkeley this semester. Tedford said Kline will get a chance to prove himself in spring practice.

“Zach has fit in well already,” Tedford said. “He’ll compete this season, and we’ll see how it unfolds.”

With Kline being heralded as the quarterback of the future, a talented corps of wide receivers including Treggs, Cedric Dozier and Darius Powe are coming to replace the shoes of graduated seniors Marvin Jones and Michael Calvin.

Despite a well-rounded collection of players on the offensive side, the class is very thin on the defensive side of the ball, with only two linebackers and one defensive back. After a strong defensive class last year that featured defensive tackle Viliami Moala and safety Avery Sebastian, the defensive quality has been downgraded with outside linebacker Michael Barton leading the trio.

Overall this is a thin class due to the rapid succession of late decommitments. To Tedford, the downward spiral since the departure of Lupoi and the vitriolic hooplah afterwards was a recruiting experience unlike any year in his decade-long tenure at Cal.

The biggest lesson that Tedford learned in this recruiting whirlwind was the impact that the internet and social media have in the process. As a light Facebook user and a Twitter novice, Tedford was surprised at how much attention and passion the players and the recruiting media outlets generate.

“It’s the times we live in,” Tedford said. “I’ve never seen such entitlement of 17 or 18-year-olds typing four words on Twitter in the morning that sends everyone in a tailspin.”

Tedford realized that the old-fashioned ways of recruiting, such as phone calls with recruits and how verbal commitments actually meant something, is no longer the same. It’s 2012, the age of Twitter, Facebook and televised announcement, and Tedford learned this lesson the hard way.

But as Tedford, the old-school coach, feels the generation gap, he was left asking one big worry about this new recruiting system

“My concern is this: when do these kids have a chance to go to school and be a kid?” Tedford said.

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  • loverspoint

    Hey Tedford show some emotion. You just have been Gaddafied ( sticking a sharp object where the sun don’t shine ) by Sarkisian and you sit there as emotionless as Teller of “Penn and Teller”.  Maybe the reason recruits don’t want to play for you is because they see you being bitch slapped by some Kiffin wannabe-Sarkisian- and you just keep taking it and taking it. Next time you see Lupoi and Thompson, kick them in the nuts for me. Oh I forgot Thompson has none.

  • loverspoint

    So much for the miracle recruiting tools of a retrofitted stadium and State of the art training facility. Like I said before when I heard that this year Tedford will receive a $500,000.00 bonus with the finished construction of the Stadium and Training Facility, that I thought he should do the right thing and split the money and amongst his assistants. 

    Just a side note- there will be 3 prominent sons of former NFL greats in the Pac-12- Nick Montana, Jerry Rice Jr., Barry Sanders Jr. 

  • loverspoint

    Does Jeff Tedford posses emotions.? The guys interviews are always about as interesting as watching paint dry. One of Cals major problems has been the inability to draft strong offensive lines, there have been occasional standout players but I can never remember in all the years of watching Cal football, and them having an all star offensive line. I thought bringing Michalzik back to Cal would bring in more 4 or maybe 5 star offensive linemen. They better get their line on the ball, Dominic Galas should be cut from the team, the guy looks lost every time he steps on the field. And with Cal looking to become more passing oriented they better teach these guys to pass block or having Zach Kline and what sounds like some talented WR’s won’t be worth a damn.

  • Stevenmiller111

    Can we just fire this guy already? Hasnt everony else had enough of bad football and even bigger disapointments year in and year out?

    • loverspoint

      He won’t be leaving till Zach Kline graduates. 

  • Anonymous

    Tedford knew Lupoi was out the door but let him call on recruits anyway. It is Tedford’s fault; both for allowing this and for earlier grabbing all the credit for the recruiting without even acknowledging Lupoi’s contribution.

    • loverspoint

      He acknowledged Lupoi, he coached him as a player and gave him a job after Lupoi graduated. Lupoi’s only real talent was recruiting. He is only a marginal DL coach, otherwise Sarkisian would have made Lupoi a defensive coordinator, after all he made Eric Kiesau an offensive coordinator didn’t he? and he is less than marginal, I’ll take Wes Chandler over Kiesau any day. 

  • Ronra

    Just horrible. .. Makes it difficult to be a fan

  • Sshafikh

    It’s not Lupoi’s fault that he wants a better future for himself and his family. It’s Tedford’s and Sandy Barbour’s fault not to recognize the importance of maintaining key personnels. though I think that Lupoi burned his bridge with Cal and Cal alums every where. Apparently Lupoi gave Tedford and Barbour ample opportunity to keep him at Cal but they were unwilling to match Washington’s offer. The question I have is why is it okay for Tedford to be the second highest paid coach in the Pac-12, while his staff are among the lowest paid  in the country? If money is an issue,
    then he shouldn’t be paid as high as he is.

    The second problem is the number of recruits. Can any one tell me why Cal recruits fewer players than other Pac-12 schools every year? It almost seems like Cal is on probation rather than USC. Hard working student/athlete players like Mike Muhammad and Aaron Rodgers were all 2-3 stars so it would make sense to recruit more players to enhance your roster.

    What I take from this is that Tedford and Barbour have decided to trim the budget of Cal’s football program by underpaying the staff and reducing the scholarships. What I don’t get is why. Don’t tell me that Cal is financially worse off than WSU or Oregon State. I just don’t buy it. Not when Pac-12 just got a new TV deal and a huge infusion of cash.  

    • Larry Taylor56

      Well one of the reasons is that cal is one of the most academically prestigous universities in the nation so in order to offer someone a scholarship they have to be sure that they can get them into school which is hard considering that most top recruits are not always the most disciplined students.

    • Current student

      This post is false on so many levels.

      First of all, To$h didn’t give Cal a chance to match the second offer.  That’s what makes him such a slime.  He got an offer from Washington and approached Tedford about it.  Tedford was able to match it, but said Cal couldn’t go any higher.  Tosh promised that it was done, and he would be back at Cal, while secretly negotiating a second, larger offer with Washington.  Then he quit by leaving Tedford a voice mail when he knew Tedford was on a plane and couldn’t answer the phone.  Tosh is a scum.

      Second of all, if you think Cal is deliberately reducing scholarships to save money, you are nuts.  We had 85 guys on scholarship last year (the NCAA limit), and Tedford will do his best to have 85 again this year.  This class unfortunately is small because there were so many decommits at the last minute.  But to insinuate that Cal is intentionally not filling all available scholarships is just stupid.

      • Sshafikh

        I don’t know where you get your information from. Tedford and Barbour gave a press conference during which they specifically said that they couldn’t match Washington’s offer. This implies that they knew about the new offer but decided not to match it. What would you do if someone approached you and told you that they will almost triple your salary? Would you  not go out of loyalty to Cal? For Lupoi to stay with Cal, the offer from us should’ve been at least in the ballpark which it apparently wasn’t. I’m not at all happy with what Lupoi did to Cal.  I am a big time Cal fan. I did my undergraduate and graduate studies at Berkeley so I understand the feeling. But I also understand that it’s a business.

        As far as 85 scholarship students being currently on Cal’s roster , you may be right. I suggested that because I noticed that for last couple of years, Cal’s recruiting classes are noticeably smaller than other schools in Pac-12.

    • Ihatetheraidersforever

      I agree that the salary of Cal’s assistants is embarrassingly low. Most of Redford’s salary is paid through endorsements & alumni money. I have read several articles about to$h, Tedford, & recruiting.
      There is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving for big $, promotion, & a boat! It was the way it went down & what happened before, during, & after that burned the bridge with napalm.
      The process for this incident was weeks long. It’s said that Cal matched 2 of uw’s offers & both times Tedford asked to$h for his word that it was over…which he did. The final time, he left. That would mean that to$h continued to negotiate with uw & got the offer he couldn’t refuse while he gave his word he’s staying at Cal!
      The worst part of this saga is that to$h began recruiting for uw BEFORE he quit Cal! He started with Shaq Thompson after Tedford left Shaq’s house. He then left Tedford a voicemail quiting his job but he did this while Tedford was on a plane & unable to answer the call. He then went (in the middle of the night) to clear our his stuff at Cal during a holiday weekend knowing no one would be around. Hell, he didn’t even have the stones to notify the players, most notably the DL players he coached. The next day he was working on Cal commits to flip to uw. It’s also being said that he may have been recruiting other recruits to uw awhile he was still on Cal’s dime! He did succeed in sabotaging Cal’s class & burning the Cal bridge he was once connected to!
      Seriously, how the F can he sell uw the day after he had already sold families & players on Cal? It certainly can’t be for academics! Lastly, it’s said that he went negative against Cal to recruits which is NOT a Cal tactic. He supposedly told kids that Cal was really hard & that many kids don’t make grades & transfer or just quit. Still pro to$h?

    • Guest

       I’m thinking that you are attributing Tedford’s incompetence as a manager to deliberation. No, he’s just a lousy manager (and, judging by his Pac-12 performance, a lousy head coach as well; ginormous salary notwithstanding).

  • Anonymous

    C’mon Tedford.  Don’t deny the fact that Lupoi, while wearing standard blue and gold attire, was telling Shaq, Peyton, and McCarthy that he was out the door and they should follow him to UW.  The only reason he didn’t do that with Armstead was because you were there.  He blind sided you.  And you’re chicken poop to not address the theft of employee time.  He was on UC Berkeley payroll when he was telling these recruits to hold off.  You’re a coward if you sent Lupoi his last paycheck.   If you don’t run up the score on UW this year, how can you expect your players to be aggressive on both sides of the ball?  IT’S ABOUT CHARACTER and  you have to make a statement that lack of integrity will not be tolerated.