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Friday, October 21, 2011
Opening mailbag: Where is Tedford's mojo?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Happy Friday.

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To the notes.

David from Palo Alto, Calif., writes: In your honest opinion, what has happened to Cal? Tedford and his new recruiting guru Tosh Lupoi have brought in some really nice recruits lately. But the Bears always seem to kill themselves in huge games. The offense is never consistent and I think that Tedford's offensive scheme is a little too complex for the college game. Do you see the Bears breaking through under Tedford or is he and his staff just not capable of beating tough Pac-12 teams?

Ted Miller: The simple answer is that Cal needs to find the right quarterback, and then things will start to get better. But that's too simple.

In fact, you could probably write a book about the problems -- and positives -- with the Bears at present.

There are positives? Absolutely. Recruiting has on the uptick the past two seasons and long-delayed facilities upgrades will be shortly completed.

Yet there's this pesky little thing called winning. It's happening a lot less than it did during Tedford's first five years. Not only that, the types of losses are notable: The Bears have gone down by 20 or more points eight times since 2009. That either means they aren't talented enough to keep up with the top teams or they aren't showing up focused, and neither is good for Tedford.

I don't see Tedford, barring an epic collapse, as being on the hotseat. But there is a sense of urgency for him to steer his program back into the top third of the conference instead of wallowing just slightly north of mediocre.

I joked with a writer the other day that Tedford's struggles almost exactly parallel his decision a few years back to close practices. It appears that reporters who cover his team have not been responsible for the down-tick.

But that tweak got me to thinking: It seems Tedford has never been afraid to make changes. He calls plays. He doesn't. He coaches QBs. He doesn't. He makes staff changes seemingly every year.

Perhaps Tedford should think back to 2004 when his team was in the national title hunt. What was he doing then? He should take an inventory of every detail. And perhaps then he should do more of that and less of what he's done the past three years.



Elton from LA writes: Can Rick Neuheisel save his job?

Ted Miller: Yes. He just needs to start winning games.

The problem is there was little to suggest from the Bruins beatdown defeat at Arizona on Thursday that a turnaround is imminent.

It would be of the great coaching Houdini acts if he somehow squeezes out three or four more wins over the final five games and saves his job.



Hank from Chicago writes: Ted, Just read your USC-ND article and I have to say, it really bothers me the way the media has glossed over the details of that game. Everyone points to the two players being out for SC and the dropped TD pass. Why do people never talk about the 4-1 turnover margin in SC's favor. The fact that all 4 of those turnovers were inside ND's 38 yard line and one of them, the only TD drive of the game for SC, started at the ND 2 yard line. Why do people talk about Barkely being out but do not talk about the injuries ND had. ND was playing without its starting QB, RB, NG, TE and 2nd WR. I understand a last minute drop stands more in the minds of most college football fans than all of the actions during the game. However, I would hope the media would be able to point out the obvious. SC isn't unlucky they lost that game, they were REALLY lucky they were even in it to begin with. Not making any predictions on this year, just saying let's not have revisionist history here.

Ted Miller: Easy answer here, Hank.

The team that wins doesn't need to make excuses. The team that loses does.

If Ronald Johnson had caught that TD pass, we'd all be writing how lucky USC was to win the game.



Glenn from Boulder, Colo., writes: I really liked your piece about Ralphie...just one problem...RALPHIE IS A SHE.They use female buffaloes because the males are too aggressive, and would get too riled up by the crowd. Also, the Ralphie Runners do indeed run with Ralphie, but it takes about 12 of them to corral and control her, with 6 running with her, and 6 on the field to "direct the flow of traffic...er buffalo"

Ted Miller: Duly noted.



Jon from Portland writes: Ted, about your Beaver jinx...Did you know since the blog started you've picked OSU to win 23 times and lose 21 times?Did you know since the blog started OSU has won 23 times and lost 21 times?That said, I hope you're wrong this week.Go Beavs!

Ted Miller: Interesting. But how many times was I correct? Twice, maybe.

I remember back in 2008 it seemed that Oregon State won when I picked it to lose and lost when I picked it to win, so it became a bit of a joke that I was helping the Beavers cause when I picked it to lose.



Dan from Escondido,Calif., writes: UCLA wins tonight. Check with me next time you predict the score for my Bruins...

Ted Miller: You had to know that was coming, Dan.