|Rick Bowmer/Associated Press|
|Former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford could be headed for Tampa.|
Former California head coach Jeff Tedford is regarded as one of the best developers of quarterbacks in college football. That is the reputation Love Smith is counting on, as Smith is set to bring Tedford in as offensive coordinator should he be hired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport.
But recent history is not with Tedford, who has never coached in the NFL.
After finding Aaron Rodgers as an unheralded recruit at Butte Community College and turning him into a first-round draft pick, Tedford's subsequent string of signal-callers ranged between mediocre and downright awful. Even with the likes of DeSean Jackson, Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones at wide receiver, the Golden Bear passing game continued to trend downward as Tedford struggled to find the correct level of involvement in the offensive game plan.
Cal players criticized the size and complexity of the playbook, often in private and occasionally publicly. The team's academic performance declined precipitously, as did its returns on the field. After being fired last December, Tedford was connected to the offensive-coordinator position at Colorado and head-coaching openings at Boise State and Wyoming, but nothing ever materialized.
The hope from Smith, who helped bring Tedford to Berkeley, Calif. in 2002, has to be that by putting him in a format where both he and his players are focused entirely on Xs and Os he can deliver the results that defined his time at Fresno State, Oregon, and the early years at Cal where he challenged then-USC coach Pete Carroll like no other.
Tedford will also inherit Mike Glennon, who started the final 13 games of his rookie season and fared well by throwing for 2,608 yards and 19 touchdowns against nine interceptions, the strong-armed pocket passer Tedford has tended to favor and succeed with at the helm.
More importantly, Tedford will have second-year running back Doug Martin in the fold, the kind of complete back that was the unsung component of his best offenses at Cal. J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch were workhorses that opened up the play-action passing game, while also proving adept in the screen game.
It would be a significant gamble for Smith, but all three former Pac-12 head coaches in the professional ranks made the playoffs this season. Putting Tedford in a smaller, more comfortable role could deliver the same returns for the Buccaneers.
UPDATE: Smith is finalizing a deal to become the Bucs' head coach, Rapoport reported Wednesday, and Tedford will join his staff as offensive coordinator.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.