Despite losing season, Tedford’s team supported him

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Jeff Tedford was relieved of coaching duties Tuesday morning, according to Cal Athletics.

However, throughout Tedford’s rocky final season at the helm of the Cal football program, his players remained optimistic and supportive of their head coach.

“Coming from my standpoint, I’m behind him,” said freshman wide receiver Chris Harper last week. “I love Coach Tedford, and I wouldn’t want him to leave.”

Following a 1-4 start to the season, and especially in the midst of Cal’s season-ending five-game losing streak — the squad’s first such run in 28 years — the players understood that their head coach’s job was in serious jeopardy.

But there was not much the players could do. As sophomore linebacker Chris McCain said a few weeks back, “I haven’t talked to (Athletics Director) Sandy Barbour.”

“We haven’t really talked about Tedford,” McCain said last Wednesday. “We’re hearing a lot of stuff … but right now we got Tedford and we riding with Tedford. Hopefully Tedford will be back next season, and we can pick up and start off again.”

The Bears pick up with a team that has gone 15-22 over the last three seasons, as they try to return to the glory of their heyday in the mid-2000s, when they were a perennial top-25 team and conference title contender.

Coming off a winning season and a newly-renovated Memorial Stadium, Cal entered the 2012 season with high expectations. Those hopes ended with losses that ranged from heartbreakingly close — a seven-point loss to Ohio State on the road — to the biggest blowout of Tedford’s tenure, the 62-14 season finale at Oregon State.

Nevertheless, players’ support of their head coach did not waver.

“I’m behind Coach 100 percent,” said freshman offensive lineman Jordan Rigsbee three weeks ago. “I love Coach Tedford. I think he’s a great coach. I’d want to have him here as long as I can, and I think he’s a good coach.”

Jonathan Kuperberg covers football. Contact him at [email protected]