Cal fans got what they wished for

Night falls and the wolves howl loudly and deeply in the comment boxes and message boards.

“Fire Tedford!” they bark. The howls grow progressively louder as the clock ticks on the embarrassing loss to UCLA.

Wretched! shouts one.

Bad playcalling! shouts the other.

Resign! says the third.

My answer: Dream. More importantly: Deal with it.

We are told early in life to be careful what we wish for. And for the large contingent of Cal fans, Jeff Tedford was the anointed savior that could do no wrong. He was the man who resurrected the program, so only the nonbelievers and heathens would dare criticize the best coach in school history.

The athletic department awarded Tedford a contract that pretty much assured he would be the Cal coach forever. At least in football years. When the contract was signed in 2007 and an extension on New Year’s Day 2009, fans celebrated. Just go back and look at the message boards.

Tedford’s contract (the one he signed in 2007) stipulates that if he is terminated, the university will owe him his base salary ($225,000 per year), retention bonus ($1.5 million after this season, $1 million after 2013) and talent fee ($1.575 million per year). No buyout clause or severance package is anywhere to be found. And none of these numbers factor in the two-year extension Tedford signed after the 2008 season, the terms of which were not disclosed.

By those numbers, it should take roughly $5-$6 million to fire Coach T.

Our beloved university is bleeding money and losing students. In a time when student tuition contributes more to general university education than the state does, it’s not a symbolically savvy move to fire the football coach and thank him with five million bucks.

Somewhere a man under the internet handle Yogi Bear chuckles. He knew. He deserves a pic-a-nic basket for all the flack he’s endured from the formerly ardent defenders of Mr. Tedford.

Tedford is still trying. Very hard, in fact. The ol’ coach has done wonders for this program, after all. He brought it back from the dead and worked tirelessly to get modern facilities. I think that all Cal fans want him to see the fruits of his labor regarding the stadium renovation and the Student Athlete High Performance Center.

The problem is that it has become increasingly clear that the wheels have spun since 2006 without any progress.

In 2006, Cal was one win away from the Rose Bowl, Oregon played in the Las Vegas Bowl and Stanford won one game — the worst team it had since 1960. Cal was the best of these programs but still without a BCS berth. And please don’t bring up that exhausted 2004 Mack Brown hoopla.

Five years later, Oregon has played in both the BCS National Championship and Rose Bowl. Stanford won a BCS game last season and will almost certainly play in another one this year.

All the while the once king of the three steadily declines into irrelevance.

Cal fans still rose to Tedford’s defense when the team completely collapsed in 2007 after rising to No. 2 in the country, when it did not win a meaningful road game in 2008, when it suffered back-to-back losses against Oregon and USC by a score of 72-6 in 2009 and when it lost 42-10 to a 4-7 Washington team after the memorable Big Game victory.

According to the Cal fanbase, Tedford was still the right man to lead our program.

Last year, people started to chirp. This year, they are finally angry.

But it’s too late, baby. Now, it’s too late. I can’t blame you for feeling upset. It’s no fun to lose. Coach Tedford knows that. I promise you he’ll keep busting his rear. There’s just no assurance that it will produce any results.

Because losing is not an uncommon occurrence anymore. Even worse, it doesn’t feel like losing is unacceptable within the program.

And I hate to say it, folks, but you asked for it. Maybe you didn’t ask for the athletic department to guarantee such a ludicrous contract, but Jeff Tedford was your man.

So to all of those saying “Fire Tedford,” either follow Tammy Wynette and stand by your man or, unless you plan on boycotting Cal football, just go ahead and pipe down.