Cortez makes Cal staff nearly complete
Daily Planet Wire Services
Nearing completion of his new coaching staff, Cal head football coach Jeff Tedford announced the hiring of George Cortez as offensive coordinator on Thursday.
Cortez, 50, has been the offensive coordinator for the reigning Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and is the man credited with developing the talents of Jeff Garcia and other successful CFL quarterbacks. Under Cortez’s tutelage, Garcia led the Stampeders to the 1998 Grey Cup title and later has elevated his game to Pro Bowl status in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
“George Cortez has enjoyed a career that is synonymous with winning football,” Tedford said. “George is one of the premier offensive minds in football today, and he’s someone who shares my vision for Cal football. We’re thrilled to have him join us in Berkeley.”
Offering 25 years of pro and college coaching experience, Cortez has been the mastermind behind some of the CFL’s most prolific offenses during the past four years as Calgary’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2001, the Stampeders led the league in eight offensive categories, including scoring (25.4 ppg), and Calgary running back Kelvin Anderson gained 1,383 yards to lead the circuit’s No. 1 rushing offense. A year earlier, Cortez produced the CFL’s 2000 Most Outstanding Player in quarterback Dave Dickenson (now with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers), who guided an offense that ranked first or second in seven league offensive categories.
Despite playing three different quarterbacks due to injuries, Cortez helped steer Calgary to its first Western Division crown of the decade in 1999, a season in which the Stampeders topped the CFL in seven offensive categories. And in Cortez’s first year as Calgary’s offensive coordinator, the 1998 Stampeders claimed the Grey Cup as the Garcia-led offense paced the CFL in 10 statistical departments.
“Coach Cortez did an outstanding job with me for the Calagary Stampeders,” said Garcia from the 49ers’ training facility Wednesday. “He was the offensive coordinator for my last two seasons and I worked with him even before that. He had a solid feel for our system and a good understanding of the game. He puts a lot of work into it and he is very thorough in everything that he does. Obviously, Calgary has shown consistency on offense and a lot of that credit should go to him because he does a terrific job. He is somebody that I have kept in contact with since I left there. We had a good rapport. He is somebody that the players will respect and give there all for, without a doubt.”
Cortez, a 1973 graduate of Texas A&M, also coached Calgary’s defensive line and secondary in 1997 and was the Stampeders’ offensive line coach from 1992-94 – a period during which their line led the CFL in fewest sacks allowed. One of his players, Bruce Coventon, became the first-ever offensive lineman to win the Jackie Parker Trophy as the Western Division’s Rookie of the Year in 1992. In recent years, Cortez has also served as quarterbacks coach at Southern Methodist University from 1995-96 and was defensive line and special teams coach for the CFL’s Ottawa Roughriders from 1990-91. Other coaching stops along the way have included the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes/Concordes (1983-86), plus college stints for a combined nine years at Lamar and Rice universities, as well as five years of coaching at C.E. King High School.
With the hiring of Cortez, Tedford has filled eight of the nine assistant coaching positions on his staff. The other members of the staff are: Bob Gregory (defensive coordinator), Bob Foster (linebackers), Ron Gould (running backs), Ken Delgado (defensive line), Jim Michalczik (offensive line), Eric Kiesau (wide receivers), Dave Ungerer (special teams/tight ends). Tedford is expected to name a defensive secondary coach later this month.