Pac-12 team fires its football coach

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Pac-12 team fires its football coach

From Comcast SportsNetBERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Jeff Tedford made a downtrodden program relevant as coach at California, putting out competitive teams for a decade, developing dozens of NFL players and spearheading a facilities upgrade.When he was unable to match his own early on-field success in recent years he was fired after 11 years as coach.Cal fired Tedford on Tuesday, ending a tenure that began with great promise and ended with a disappointing run of mediocrity capped by his worst season as coach."This was a difficult decision made after considerable thought and analysis and reflection," athletic director Sandy Barbour said. "Jeff Tedford is a good man who has brought great success and celebration and to his university and deserves to occupy a place of honor in the Cal family. His legacy is unquestioned."Tedford engineered an impressive turnaround for the Bears after taking over a one-win team following the 2001 season. He won a school-record 82 games, churned out numerous NFL prospects and was a major factor in a 321 million stadium renovation.But after winning 10 games twice in his first five years and taking a share of the 2006 conference title, Tedford was unable to keep the Bears near the top of the Pac-12 conference anymore.The program bottomed out this season, losing the final five games to finish 3-9 for Tedford's worst season. The Bears lost to rival Stanford for the third straight season and the year was capped by the most lopsided losses of Tedford's career, a 59-17 home loss to Oregon followed by a season-ending 62-14 loss at Oregon State.Barbour met with Tedford the previous two days to discuss the future of the program and announced her decision Tuesday."I certainly wanted the answer to be Jeff," she said. "But I have that obligation to do what's right for Cal. It was a matter of did I believe that we could turn around some of these worrisome trends competitively and academically. Ultimately my conclusion was it wouldn't be deep enough to take us to where we need to be."Tedford released a statement thanking the school for the opportunity to coach there."All involved can feel a great sense of pride with their sacrifice, contributions and commitment that have made it possible to have the winningest tenure in Cal football history," he said. "We all can be very proud of helping to build a renovated Memorial Stadium that will have a positive impact on many athletes, fans and staff members for years to come."Tedford is still owed 6.9 million over the final three years of his contract, although Barbour said the sides are working on a settlement. She also said no state funds or student fees will be used to pay Tedford or the new coach.Barbour said she would consider both NFL and college coaches and wanted to find a replacement quickly. Cal which will be aided by the firm ofDHRInternational in the search.The Cal players gave Tedford a standing ovation after getting the news."Everybody really respects coach a lot and loves coach a lot," offensive lineman Jordan Rigsbee said. "It really meant a lot to us to send him off in that way."Tedford established himself at Cal as a quarterback guru, helping develop Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers into first-round picks in his first three seasons after tutoring No. 3 overall pick Joey Harrington as offensive coordinator at Oregon.But if there was one reason for Tedford's downfall it was his inability to find another big-time quarterback after Rodgers left following the 2004 season. The Bears ran through a group of pedestrian passers like Joe Ayoob, Nate Longshore, Kevin Riley, Brock Mansion and Zach Maynard.The inability to pair an elite passer with the top-level talent at the skill positions proved to be Tedford's undoing. The Bears often put together some of the best recruiting classes on the West Coast and had 40 players drafted into the NFL, including eight first-round picks, under Tedford's leadership.Cal had 25 players on NFL rosters at the start of this season, ninth most in the nation. That includes stars like Rodgers, DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. But those star players were unable to get the Bears back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1958 season.The closest Cal came was in Rodgers' final season in 2004 when the Bears had a 10-1 regular season, losing 23-17 to eventual national champion Southern California. Texas beat out Cal for a Rose Bowl spot much to the dismay of the fan base. The Bears shared the conference title with USC in 2006 but lost the head-to-head matchup and settled for the Holiday Bowl.Cal's fortunes turned downward that next season after a 5-0 start. With the Bears poised to move into the No. 1 spot in the polls following a loss by LSU, they lost to Oregon State in the closing seconds. Starting with that game, Tedford had a 34-37 record over his final 5 seasons.The Bears even got passed by Stanford in the Pac-12 hierarchy to the dismay of the alumni, with the Cardinal in position to get that Rose Bowl bid that has eluded Cal over the years despite losing star quarterback Andrew Luck to the NFL.Adding to negatives for Tedford was news last month that Cal graduated only 48 percent of football players who entered school between 2002 and 2005 -- the lowest rate in the Pac-12. Barbour said in a letter to donors that the low graduation rate was a "great concern."The one bright spot in Tedford's final seasons came when Memorial Stadium reopened this fall following the major renovation. The modernized stadium and adjacent 150 million on-campus High Performance Center finally give Cal the facilities to compete with the rest of the conference.While Tedford's work rebuilding the program and fundraising for the project were integral in its success, his successor will ultimately reap the benefits."This is a great job," Barbour said. "It's been made better by Jeff Tedford. This is a very attractive job that will attract a number of candidates that will meet these criteria. We will have an opportunity to make a great choice."

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

BOSTON – When the fourth quarter rolled around on Friday night, the Boston Celtics found themselves in a down-to-the-wire fight with the Sacramento Kings. 

It was the kind of game that in the past has brought out the scrappy, get-it-done-somehow brand of basketball that has in many ways come to define the Celtics under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens. 

And it was on full display Friday night as the Celtics made all the big plays at both ends of the floor down the stretch to beat the Sacramento Kings, 97-92. 

After Sacramento cut Boston’s lead to 90-87, Al Horford drained a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game again. 

Isaiah Thomas came up with a pair of free throws that turned out to be huge, because shortly after he made them the Kings got a 3-pointer from DeMarcus Cousins that made it a 95-92 game.

The Kings had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth when Horford was credited with his sixth block of the game, this time on DeMarcus Cousins.

Horford was immediately fouled and went to the free throw line where he sealed the victory by making a pair.

Those were the kind of plays we saw often last season being made by the Celtics who finished in a tie for the third-best record in the East. 

This year, not so much. 

“For the most part we got what we wanted (in the fourth quarter) and we got the stops we needed even,” Thomas said. 

Which is the kind of game Jae Crowder and the rest of the guys who have been here awhile, have grown accustomed to.

“We got back to being the aggressive team,” Crowder said. “We came out and imposed our will early; that helped. But if the game comes down to what it was tonight, we have to be the team that comes out on top. It was like a playoff game, real physical. We have to grit it out, grind it out.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

Al Horford

So this is what an ultra-aggressive Al Horford looks like? The four-time All-Star had a season-high 26 points which included knocking down four three-pointers to go with eight rebounds and six blocked shots – yes, six blocked shots.

DeMarcus Cousins

While his fiery temper hasn’t died down completely, his incredible offensive skills and brute strength is what folks are talking more about, finally. He led the Kings with a game-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and four blocked shots.  

 

STUDS

Isaiah Thomas

His streak of being Boston’s outright scoring leader ended at 14 games, but he’s more than happy to take a back seat for one night if it means getting a victory. Horford led the charge on Friday night, but Thomas still chipped in with 20 points, seven assists and two steals. 

Matt Barnes

Although he missed eight of his 11 shots from the field, the 36-year-old Barnes was rewarded for his hustle and effort as he finished with a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Jae Crowder

Boston needed tough plays to be made on Friday and Crowder was up the challenge all night. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Good things happened when he was on the floor, evident by his game-high plus/minus of +15.

 

DUDS

Rudy Gay

He finished with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting but the Kings needed more from their second-leading scorer who finished almost seven points below his 19.6 points per game average. That stands out on a night when the Kings lost by just five points.