Read the comments at the bottom of any Daily Cal article about football, and you’ll likely see some variation of the following comments:
The general consensus seems to be that Bears fans believe head coach Jeff Tedford has worn out his welcome, not unlike a hobo that knocks on your door and asks to use your phone. You let him in initially because you consider yourself a considerate person, but then he starts rummaging through your refrigerator and asks if he can eat some pickles.
But wait a minute, you think to yourself. Mr. Hobo, you probably haven’t eaten in days, and pickles are hard to come by; you shouldn’t be blamed for wanting a snack.
Although there’s probably a more apt metaphor to employ, the point is humans are prone to expressing irrational behavior when their initial expected reality is shattered by unexpected external interference.
Tedford set the expected reality bar pretty high when he first took the reins in 2002. Cal jumped from an atrocious 1-10 to a respectable 7-5, and Tedford was rewarded with the big bucks to keep pointing the program in the right direction.
2004 brought Aaron Rodgers’ junior season and a 10-1 regular season record, with the team finishing No. 4 in the AP Poll at the campaign’s conclusion. Although the Bears got screwed out of a Rose Bowl appearance, Cal had legitimacy for the first time in a long while.
But after a few decent-but-not-great winning seasons, the wheels — which only required minimal maintenance at first — slowly began to careen off the track.
2010 saw the Tedford Administration’s first losing season and a violent backlash from a fan base that had grown to expect a winning product on the field.
Last year’s mediocre campaign further saw the fan base turn from mildly displeased to petulant and whiny.
Somehow, a coach whose name is written on the plaque for most wins in Bears history gained the reputation of an overpaid underachiever.
But the vehement opposition to Tedford finds its roots in fallacious logic. After the Rodgers era and a couple runs in the mid-2000s toward the top of the polls, fans began to think of the Cal program as one on par with USC or Oregon.
In reality, the Bears are a respectable but not dominant Pac-12 program, one whose great seasons come in cycles once or twice a decade.
To be honest, Jeff Tedford has been one of the greatest coaches in Cal football history. Tedford’s tenure at Berkeley has made this program a real name. People know who Cal is.
Which brings us back to the pickles. Running with the admittedly poor metaphor, the hobo established a baseline expectation in the initial interaction; likewise, Tedford established his as a winner and Rose Bowl contender. When the hobo went for those dill pickles you just picked up from Safeway, like, 45 minutes ago, your primal instinct was to react to the immediacy of the situation. Yet rather than being angry at this grimy-looking dude putting his hands all up in that $4.99 jar, you should take a step back and reflect on your actions in a rational, objective manner.
Could it really hurt that much more to spare a pickle?
Before we start stoning the prisoner, let us think about what the actual baseline expectation should be for Cal and adjust it before you’re stuck with an alternative option to Tedford. Because it might just mean you’ve got nine hobos ravaging through your house stealing various household items and picking out which magazines they’ll want to read when they get back to the cold, desolate sidewalks of post-housing crisis America in the midst of economic turmoil.