TAMPA — Lovie Smith’s first public comments as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were an endorsement of his new offensive coordinator, former University of California coach Jeff Tedford.
“We are very fortunate to have Jeff as our offensive coordinator,” Smith said Saturday in a statement released by the team officially announcing Tedford’s hiring. “I have a great deal of respect for the job Jeff did at Cal for more than a decade and believe he will be a great fit for what we are attempting to do in Tampa.
“Jeff has a successful and proven track record as a teacher and developer of young talent and I know our players, and the organization as a whole, will benefit from his experience.”
The team still has not officially named a defensive coordinator but a Bucs source with knowledge of the transactions told The Tribune on Friday that the job will go to former Minnesota Vikings coach Lesliie Frazier.
The Bucs are also still on the lookout for a new general manager to replace Mark Dominik, who was fired Monday along with former coach Greg Schiano after Schiano led the Bucs through an 11-21 record over two seasons.
Speculation has centered around Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard getting the general manager’s job in Tampa but no one with the team has confirmed those reports.
Tedford replaces Mike Sullivan, who was let go along with the rest of Schiano’s staff earlier this week and is a two-time Pac-10 coach of the year who is best known for developing quarterbacks such as Trent Dilfer, David Carr and Aaron Rodgers.
Tedford played his college ball at Fresno State and began his coaching career there as a volunteer assistant in 1987 before joining the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League as an offensive assistant in 1989.
Tedford spent three years with the Stampeders before returning to Fresno State as a quarterbacks coach, but he was promoted to offensive coordinator a year later and held that job through the end of the 1997 season.
During his time at Fresno State, Tedford developed a reputation for consistently developing NFL-caliber players, including Dilfer, running backs Ron Rivers, Michael Pittman and Reggie Brown and wide receiver Charlie Jones.
Tedford became the offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon in 1998, and during his four-year tenure there the Ducks put together a Pac-10-best record of 38-10.
Tedford took over as the coach at Cal in 2002, inheriting a program that had not had a winning season since 1993 and had won only 29 games, including just 18 in Pac-10 play, between 1993 and 2001.
The Golden Bears immediately became winners under Tedford, who produced winning seasons in each of his first eight years at the helm and in nine of his first 10, earning eight Bowl game invitations along the way.
Tedford’s Cal program struggled through a miserable 3-9 season in 2012 that included a third straight loss to rival Stanford and that led to Tedford’s firing at the end of that season.
Tedford left Cal with the most victories (82), most bowl wins (five) and the most conference wins (50) in school history and with an enhanced reputation for preparing players for the NFL after having 40 Cal players drafted during his tenure, including eight first-round draft picks.