Jeff Tedford is something you would call a shooting star: he made wishes come true – then disappeared suddenly into the night. Far too soon.
The rumors of Tedford’s departure from coaching picked up late Thursday night on social media. As the news began making the rounds, the question became very real: Could the head football coach of Fresno State – winner of a Mountain West football championship – be on the way out?
At Friday morning’s scheduled press conference, Jeff Tedford gave his own definitive answer.
“It is with a heavy heart – no pun intended – that I announce I need to step down as the head coach,” Tedford said.
Tedford began the press conference by opening up about the health issues he has endured the last few months.
“I’ve had some recent medical concerns going on since mid-season…since then, I’ve had a chance to consult with physicians and I need to have another procedure done [in January],” Tedford explained.
“The stresses and anxiety of this job do not match up well with some of my cardiac issues.”
Stoic and solemn, Tedford made it clear he is leaving on his own terms, for family and health reasons only.
“I seriously doubt [about returning to coaching],” Tedford said. “[My resignation] isn’t about anything else but health. [My resignation] isn’t about last season… or about not having support. To have the chance to spend family time [is important], because [head coaching] is a very selfish position. It’s time to put some priorities in their places, and that’s health and family.”
Tedford also expressed optimism in the future of Fresno State football following his departure.
“I do feel very strongly that the cupboard is full and is ready to compete right away at a championship level,” Tedford said. “Fresno State is a very well-respected program, and I’m sure there will be many quality coaching candidates.”
“The pride and tradition of Bulldog football was started long before I got here,” he stated, before quickly joking “Well, I have been here a long time.”
Things got serious when Tedford closed his interview session, as he touched upon the collective toll from his head coaching career – spanning from Fresno State to Cal to the CFL’s BC Lions.
“I have been coaching for a long, long time. I’ve worked all my life, and I’ve sacrificed a lot. Now it’s time to live,” said a tearful Tedford before he walked off the podium and out of the room, shaking the hands of media members on the way.
Following Jeff Tedford in the press conference was Fresno State athletic director Terry Tumey, who faced several questions about the new head coaching hire, the impact of Tedford’s resignation on recruiting, and more.
First, he praised Tedford for his three-year stint as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
“I have not been a Bulldog for long, but I’ve been able to have [Tedford’s] mentorship guide me on my path to becoming a Bulldog. When you are in a game and Jeff Tedford is on your side, you are going to win,” Tumey said. “I don’t see why I won’t have him continue to help me in the athletic department in the future.”
On the open head coaching job, Tumey sounded confident in his ability to find a solid replacement.
“This position has amazing interest nationally,” said Tumey. “Although I am an educator and I have academic experience, I think you all know I am a football man. I know football, so I think I am well-equipped to find the next person to try and lead this program in the way Jeff Tedford did.”
The early signing period opens on December 18, but according to California law, Fresno State must wait a 14-day period before hiring their next head coach. That means the Bulldogs won’t have a head coach when recruiting starts. Tumey touched upon this.
“We have a lot of talented [athletes] who want to come here, because they love this institution. If our recruits understand [the strength of our community] and that we’re committed to their success, then we will get the right kids in here,” said Tumey. “When it comes to the 18th, we may have no kids sign that day, or we may have three or four, because those kids will be committed to this institution.”
Before closing, Tumey made one last passionate remark to return confidence to shocked Bulldog fans, both in the press conference and watching at home.
“Greatness is a virtue that will continue in Bulldog football moving forward.”
And just like that, the search for the new head coach begins for Fresno State.