When Cal chancellor Robert Berdahl made crew rowing coach Steve Gladstone his surprise pick as athletic director earlier this year, he knew he was hiring an unusual candidate, one who would do things a bit differently than your average administrator. The hiring process for Cal’s new head football coach, Jeff Tedford, shows just how independent Gladstone is.
Gladstone made it clear at Wednesday’s press conference that Tedford is, above all else, his choice for the job. Although Gladstone was assisted by a search committee that included rugby coach Jack Clark and other Cal administrators, that committee was in an advisory position only.
“The decision was made by me in consultation with a lot of people,” Gladstone said. “But it was ultimately my decision.”
As is customary these days, a small group of Cal players got to meet with the final candidates for the job, but Gladstone seemingly didn’t put much stock in their input. Several players said they supported South Carolina defensive coordinator Charlie Strong for the job, although they didn’t know anything about Tedford and had open minds towards the new coach.
“I’d never heard of (Tedford) before yesterday,” freshman tailback Terrell Williams said Wednesday. “But I’ll go meet him right now and see what’s up.”
Junior linebacker Paul Ugenti spoke with Tedford and liked what he heard.
“I really enjoyed talking to him,” Ugenti said. “He had some good ideas about how to bring us back together as a team. There were some divisions that developed during the season.”
But although the players know who the head coach will be next season, there’s still a lot to be decided. Tedford is likely to hire an almost entirely new staff of coaches, but first he has to finish his season with Oregon, who play Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
“It’s a relief to have a head coach, but it’s still hanging over our heads that we don’t have a defensive coordinator,” Ugenti said. “(Tedford) still has to finish his job at Oregon before he can concentrate on us. It’s hard to know what’s going on.”