Tough road ahead for Tedford, Cal 

April, 1, 2011

Here is this week's mailbag:

From @TheREALSeanBe: Do you think Jeff Tedford can recapture the magic with the California Bears that he had his first 4 years?

I'm skeptical. Once the momentum for a program slows, it's hard for the same regime to get it cranked back up again. There's no doubt Jeff Tedford did a terrific job turning the Cal program around, but it has slid backward a lot over the past few years. He's pushed a bunch of different buttons trying to rework his coaching staff, and up to this point, the moves haven't yielded more wins.

The biggest head-scratcher in the recent decline of this program has been that Tedford, who has such a strong résumé of developing quarterbacks, hasn't had a good one to lead his offense since Aaron Rodgers moved on to the NFL after the 2004 season. Instead, you've had some guys who came to Cal with solid credentials, but just haven't proved to be good quarterbacks. Since Rodgers left, they've had just one season when they've finished higher than fourth in the Pac-10 (in 2006), and it's not like they haven't had some superb players come through there since (DeSean Jackson, Jahvid Best, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Shane Vereen and Alex Mack, among others.).

Last year, Cal was 94th in passing and 75th in scoring, which is stunning considering the Tedford pedigree. They didn't score over 20 points in any of the past five games. In the past four years, this program has never ranked higher than 49th in passing.

Tedford is on record as saying he's taken back the reins of the Cal offense and is going to call plays again, as he did in his first few years there. That's a smart move. Coaches need to play to their strengths, but the biggest question is whether a QB will emerge for him.

On top of that, the Bears have to find a new running back to replace Vereen, and they also have to replace a trio of excellent defenders in defensive end Cameron Jordan, linebacker Mike Mohamed and safety Chris Conte. The schedule also isn't great, since they have to go on the road to play the Oregon Ducks, Stanford Cardinal and Arizona State Sun Devils, who are probably three of the four best teams in the league.

From @GetRiteMike: Who is the favorite to win the BCS championship?

According to oddsmakers, the Oklahoma Sooners are the favorites. As I've said a few times here this offseason, the Sooners are likely going to be my preseason No. 1 pick. They were on the top 25 I turned into the folks at "College Football Live" a few weeks ago.

There is a lot to be excited about with this Sooners team, starting with a star quarterback in Landry Jones, a great wide receiver in Ryan Broyles, and a lot of speed guys around them. The defense, which has eight starters back, should also be very strong, led by linebacker Travis Lewis.

Losing starting right tackle Jarvis Jones this spring with a torn patellar tendon is certainly reason for concern. The timing on Jones' return is estimated at six months, which means he might not be ready to go for the first month of the season, and OU will face one of its biggest challenges Sept. 17 when the Sooners visit what should be an improved Florida State Seminoles team. The rest of the schedule features the usual: archrival Texas Longhorns (who are coming off a nightmarish season and should be better -- but just how much better remains to be seen), home against a good Texas A&M Aggies team and on the road against a dangerous Oklahoma State Cowboys team that is loaded on offense.