SEATTLE — When Jeff Tedford exercised an option to walk away from his contract after one season as head coach of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, he had only one goal in mind.
Return to college football.
He has, though not in a capacity like any he’s used to. The former California Golden Bears head coach — he won 82 games there from 2002-2012 — is now in his first season as an offensive consultant for the Washington Huskies, drawing on his longtime friendship with UW coach Chris Petersen to get back in the college game.
As a consultant, Tedford isn’t allowed to coach any players, though he can have unlimited contact with the Huskies’ coaching staff and will travel with the team to road games.
“I’m just here to help in any way I can,” Tedford said after UW’s Monday practice, his first media availability since joining the Huskies’ staff.
“I’m just here as a resource, really. I can’t coach the players or anything like that, but if I can offer some resources to the coaches with the game plan or watching tape or whatever, I’m here to do anything I can to help them.”
Tedford, 54, got to know Petersen when the two were on the same staff at Oregon in the late 90s — Tedford as offensive coordinator, Petersen as receivers coach. He was later a two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year at Cal, where he guided the Bears to eight bowl appearances in 11 seasons and was renowned as one of the league’s best offensive minds, but was fired in 2012 after posting a 3-9 record.
He accepted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator position prior to the 2014 season, but had to step away after undergoing a coronary angioplasty and having two stents implanted in an artery near his heart.
“That was definitely something that came out of the blue,” Tedford said. “Wasn’t expecting that. It took me a while to recover from that that season. But once I did — I’m 100 percent, so I feel great.”
Tedford served as head coach of the BC Lions for one season — they finished 7-11 and lost in the first round of the playoffs — before deciding to pursue opportunities at the college level.
Nothing came open, though, “so I was going to do some camps and get back into recruiting mode,” Tedford said, before a conversation with Petersen led to the chance to help out at UW.
“I actually told Coach Pete that I wasn’t going to do anything, and if he needed somebody to do it, then — we talk all the time, we’ve talked for years since we coached together in Oregon — and it just worked out that he felt like it would be a good thing to do,” Tedford said. “And it was perfect for me, and I wasn’t doing anything this year, anyway, so it’s just great to be here.”
Ultimately, Tedford said, he would like to be a college head coach again. But he seems to be fine with the opportunity afforded him by Petersen this season at Washington.
“It’s awesome to around such a great program, such a great coaching staff,” Tedford said, “and (I’m) very excited to be here.”
‘No more’ Marshawn
Tedford was coaching California during one of UW’s most memorable losses to the Golden Bears — the 2006 game that ended with Cal tailback Marshawn Lynch driving a golf cart around the field following a 31-24 overtime victory.
Cal turned that Lynch stunt into a bobblehead that it will give away when the Huskies visit the Bears on Nov. 5. The bobblehead features Lynch at the wheel of a golf cart.
Tedford’s recollection of that game: “It’s pretty funny that they’re doing a bobblehead, because I got in trouble for that, like I planned it or something. The next day I got a call from the (athletic director) saying, ‘he can’t be doing that.’ Marshawn is so fun-loving and he was excited after a big win, had a great game and all that. When you looked over there and saw it, it was funny. But after you sit back and look, all the fans are coming on the field, it could have been dangerous. So I get it. But he was having fun. I had to tell him, ‘no more.’ Keep the keys away from Marshawn. He can’t take the golf cart.”