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Football coaching trees are inherently interconnected.
Assistant coaches from successful teams are often tapped to rebuild struggling programs, and we remember the ones who succeed. In a nutshell, good coaches beget good coaches. Cal's Jeff Tedford can relate to that, having served as offensive coordinator at Oregon under Mike Bellotti for four successful seasons before taking the helm in Berkeley.
Even considering how often coaching paths around the nation seem to cross, the Pac-12 seems to be intertwined to an amazing degree.
Here's a small sampling:
Tedford is one of three current Pac-12 head coaches to play for former Fresno State, Washington State and Montana State coach Jim Sweeney. As a player in the Canadian Football League, Tedford played for Oregon State's Mike Riley with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after a stint playing for Riley's father, Bud, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
So does this cross-pollination of styles make for a more brotherly type of competition in the Pac-12?
"I think it does," Tedford said. "It's a pretty close-knit group for most of the conference. When I was [an assistant coach], I recruited [Washington's Steve] Sarkisian. Lane [Kiffin] played under me and was my graduate assistant [at Fresno State]. Dennis Erickson played and coached for Coach Sweeney [at Montana State]. I played and coached for Coach Sweeney. Mike Riley, as you mentioned, is a guy that I played for as well. There's a lot of [shared] background with everybody. When we get on these tours and we get together, we all have a great time."
[Editor's note: Page 2 interviewed all the Pac-12 head football coaches during their recent visit to ESPN headquarters. Our Pac-12 questionnaire -- in which coaches voted on the most attractive cheerleaders, best mascot, most dapper coach and much more -- will be posted Thursday, along with Q-and-A interviews from all 12 coaches.]