Cal's Tedford occupies the nation's hottest coaching seat

Cal is off to a 1-4 start this season, the worst beginning of Jeff Tedford's 11-year tenure at the school.

And his coaching seat is getting hotter by the week.

Jeff TedfordJeff Tedford and the Golden Bears fell to 1-4 after the loss this weekend to ASU.

Despite athletic director Sandy Barbour saying before the season that Tedford's job was not in jeopardy, it appears that a strong turnaround could be needed for Tedford to return to Berkley in 2013.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, wealthy and influential school alumni are not happy with the direction of the program and its inability to be a consistent winner in the Pac-12. So raising funds to fire Tedford is not out of the question.

“I'm the last one off the bus when it comes to [firing] Tedford,” a wealthy alum told the newspaper. “But we have to move on. His game management has been awful…If this doesn't turn around, I really think they'll buy him out. I'm predicting that if we finish under .500, he's gone.”

The veteran coach is overseeing a program coming off of a 27-17 loss to Arizona State this past weekend, and it has already lost to Nevada, a good non-BCS team but certainly one that has inferior talent compared to the Golden Bears. This is the worst start in the Tedford era, and some alums may be very willing to help pay Tedford's salary for him to be dismissed. His contract runs through 2015 and there is no buyout. Thus, Cal would have to pay him a little less than $7 million for the remainder of his deal if he was let go at the end of the season.

The Golden Bears still have to play Top 25 teams Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and UCLA this fall, so it's an uphill battle. The situation certainly is getting more bleak for Tedford as each and every disappointing week comes off of the schedule. And it's certainly not the type of start to the year the Cal athletic department envisioned with a renovated stadium and high expectations for 2012.

Tedford's career overall mark is 80-52 at the school, and he is 48–40 in conference play.

Email or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

NFP Top 25

Week 5 of the 2012 college football season is in the books, and it was yet another memorable weekend.

Georgia survived a scare from SEC East rival Tennessee, Oklahoma State took Texas to the limit and Oregon State remained unbeaten.

With the rankings shaken up, let’s take a look at how the National Football Post stacks up the Top 25 heading into the sixth week of the season.

2012 record in parentheses and last week’s ranking in brackets.

1. Alabama (5-0) [1]
Amari Cooper caught two touchdown passes from AJ McCarron as the Crimson Tide beat Ole Miss 33-14.

2. LSU (5-0) [2]
Odell Beckham had five catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers beat Towson 38-22.

3. Oregon (5-0) [3]
The Ducks used a strong third quarter to pull away from Washington State 51-26.

4. South Carolina (5-0) [4]
The Gamecocks scored 31 unanswered points against Kentucky in a 38-17 victory.

5. Georgia (5-0) [5]
The Bulldogs relied on freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to beat Tennessee 51-44.

EJ Manuel US PRESSWIREEJ Manuel and the Seminoles remain unbeaten after taking care of USF.

6. Florida State (5-0) [6]
EJ Manuel threw for 242 yards and one touchdown as the Seminoles beat South Florida 30-17.

7. Kansas State (4-0) [7]
The Wildcats had a bye this past weekend and will host Kansas on Saturday.

8. West Virginia (4-0) [8]
Geno Smith was nothing short of ridiculous with eight touchdown passes and 656 passing yards in a 70-63 win over Baylor.

9. Texas (4-0) [10]
David Ash threw three touchdown passes and the Longhorns survived giving up 576 total yards in a 41-36 win over Oklahoma State.

10. Notre Dame (4-0) [11]
The Fighting Irish had a bye this past weekend and will play Miami (FL) at Chicago’s Soldier Field this week.

11. Florida (4-0) [12]
The Gators had a bye this past weekend and will host LSU on Saturday.

12. TCU (4-0) [13]
Casey Pachall threw two touchdown passes and Jason Verrett had two interceptions as TCU beat SMU 24-16.


Britt won't play against Texans

It's not a surprise, but receiver Kenny Britt won't play for the Tennessee Titans against the Houston Texans today.

Britt missed a full week of practice with an ankle injury suffered in last week's overtime victory over the Detroit Lions.

Tight end Jared Cook is likely to play against the Texans despite an injured shoulder.

Without Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Damian Williams will be the Titans receiving trio in the three-wide package.

Follow me on Twitter @TerryMc13

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

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NFP Sunday Blitz

Change has been invigorating for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s not wholesale change or even considerable change. It’s mostly subtle change, which was probably the perfect prescription for a team that won ten games but bowed out in the wildcard round of the playoffs last season.

The Falcons could have just sat back and counted on internal improvement. Instead, they decided to attack. They attacked by hiring offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, and then they have attacked by dictating to opponents on both sides of the ball.

The new mentality has brought out the best in maturing players such as Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Jacquizz Rodgers, Sam Baker, Thomas DeCoud, William Moore and Sean Weatherspoon.

This was all part of head coach Mike Smith’s plan. He hired two coordinators who were willing to work with the foundation the team had already put in place, as well as with the assistant coaches on staff. Smith knew what he was getting into with Koetter and Nolan because he had worked with both previously.

Koetter even has given Ryan a hand in designing the offense. The main difference in the Falcons’ offense is their gameplans are based more on identifying and exploiting opponents’ weaknesses. “Dirk has put together a really aggressive game plan,” Smith told me. “He wants to be attacking. That’s what he did as a college head coach. Now what we’re doing is more predicated on how people are trying to defend us.”

People are not defending the Falcons very well. They have scored touchdowns on each of their three opening drives and are averaging 31.3 points per game—third highest in the NFL.

Of course none of that would be possible if Ryan wasn’t being protected so well. Protection was an issue a year ago, but he has been sacked only four times this year. Smith attributes this to better play from the returning offensive linemen and to Ryan improving both his pocket awareness and his strength so he is able to step into throws better.

Ryan has taken care of the football exceptionally well, throwing only one interception. He is a big reason why the Falcons are plus-10 in the takeaway department.

Mike NolanMike Nolan and Mike Smith plot their next move.

Another big reason is Nolan’s scheming. Nolan has coached 3-4 fronts for seven years, and he has coached 4-3 fronts for seven years. He has combined both principles in his most recent defenses. The Falcons often have four down linemen in base, but become very unpredictable in nickel, coming at quarterbacks from all angles.

“When I hired Mike, I knew Mike wants to get opponents in third down,” Smith said. “Mike always has one of the best third down teams in the league, year in, year out. He is very creative, especially on third down. And that’s the money down.”

The other thing Nolan has done is let players play. “He’s done a very good job of identifying what are players are capable of doing and putting them in position to do what they do best,” Smith said. “He’s been a new set of eyes for us. That’s refreshing. You can become where you don’t see the trees because of the forest.”

Weatherspoon is a perfect example of a player who seems to be moving faster this year, playing to his full athleticism. “We’ve been very encouraged with how Mike has worked with the defense, Smitty and the other coaches to create a defense that is appropriate for the talent we have,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “He has taken fast, athletic players and created a defense that plays with confidence and an edge.”

The season is young and things are likely to keeping changing. But so far, the change has been all good in Atlanta.

Things I Didn’t Used To Know

*The Jaguars anticipated Maurice Jones-Drew would take a couple games to get rolling, and weren’t surprised when he broke out in the third game of the season. Initially after Jones-Drew’s holdout, it was clear he needed reps from a mental standpoint. He needed to get in sync with blockers and get completely familiar with new schemes against various defensive fronts. Jones-Drew was more tentative than usual in the early going. But his coaches noted rapid improvement prior to last week, as his technique and footwork became more second nature to him. It has helped that Jones-Drew is being helped along by esteemed running backs coach Sylvester Crooms.

*The Cowboys did not sign Brandon Carr to play safety on a regular basis, but now that they have him their eyes have been opened to the possibility, and they like what they see. The plan is to use Carr to his strengths at the position. That means he won’t be banging helmets with guards very often, even though he is willing to hit. Instead, Carr will be used basically like a glorified cornerback, covering receivers and tight ends. With the way the game has evolved, defenses can get away with having safeties like Carr, especially on nickel downs. As a cover safety, Carr might even be better than as a cornerback, because as a corner he has to play with his back to the ball more—and that is not his strength.

My Sunday Best: Controversial Calls

We will be talking about the Golden Tate–M.D. Jennings Hail Mary play for many, many years. Given the unusual circumstances and the scrutiny, it could down in history as the most controversial call in NFL history. Here are my other most controversial calls. Any you’d like to add?

*The Immaculate Reception. This was the first step in the Steelers’ dynasty. In this 1972 playoff game, Oakland’s Jack Tatum broke up Terry Bradshaw’s pass to Frenchy Fuqua, sending the ball flying in the air. The Raiders began celebrating, but Franco Harris picked it up just before it hit the ground and ran it to the end zone. The officials weren’t certain if it was a touchdown because the rule at the time said if the ball touched Fuqua, a second Steelers player could not have caught it. After consulting with a league official, referee Fred Swearingen called it a touchdown.

*The Tuck Rule Call. Charles Woodson, then of the Raiders sacked New England’s Tom Brady in the snow during this 2002 divisional playoff game. It was ruled he forced a fumble, and the Raiders recovered with 1:43 remaining and a three point lead. But after reviewing the play, referee Walt Coleman, citing the tuck rule, called it an incomplete pass. The Patriots tied the game with a field goal before winning in overtime and eventually becoming Super Bowl champs.

*The Jerry Rice Non-Fumble. In a 1998 wild card game between the 49ers and Packers, Rice clearly fumbled late in the game. Officials ruled he was down by contact, however, and the 49ers continued to drive for the game-winning score.

*The Ed Hochuli Call. Late in a 2008 game between the Chargers and Broncos, Hochuli ruled Jay Cutler threw an incomplete pass, when he really fumbled. Hochuli knew it and apologized afterwards. The Chargers had recovered the ball and the call probably changed the outcome of the game, which Denver won.

*The Renfro No-Catch. In the 1979 AFC championship game between the Steelers and Oilers, Mike Renfro appeared to make a third quarter catch for the Oilers in the end zone that would have tied the score. But officials ruled he failed he get both feet in bounds. The Steelers won and went on to their fourth Super Bowl victory.

*The Bert Emanuel Game. Emanuel appeared to make a diving catch in a tight game that would have kept the Bucs alive in the 1999 NFC Championship game in St. Louis. But after a replay review, Bill Carollo said the n
ose of the ball had hit the ground, and he overturned the decision that it was a catch. The Rams won, but in the offseason the NFL adopted what has become known as The Bert Emanuel rule. Under the new rule, Emanuel’s catch would have counted.

*The Super Bowl Mistake. In the 2006 Super Bowl, referee Bill Leavy called Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for an illegal low block that helped the Steelers win the game. Leavy later acknowledged he was wrong.

One Man Yelp: Best of Rivals; Team of the 80s

Best of Rivals was a good book waiting to happen, and author Adam Lazarus did a nice job of putting together a complete, authoritative study of the Joe Montana-Steve Young quarterback controversy/competition. It was a unique dynamic–two future hall of famers competing for the most important job on one of the greatest teams of all time.


The tension began as soon as Young arrived in the 49ers locker room after being traded from the Bucs. He didn’t have cleats to wear, so he was given a pair of Montana’s to borrow. Young worked out wearing the shoes with No. 16 written on them. Then he and Montana chatted for awhile. Finally, Montana said, “Steve, when you’re finished, just throw the shoes back in my locker.”

Young described the rivalry years later thusly: “People always think that we fought. We never had a cross word, never had an argument, and I’ve always said to people that it went as well as it possibly could with two hypercompetitive people. But it wasn’t easy, it was difficult, difficult for both of us.”

Montana’s take: “We’re friends, Steve and I. But out on the practice field, if he doesn’t hate me as much as I hate him, then there’s something wrong.”

Lazarus writes that Montana tipped off a Bay Area reporter that Young had covertly erased portions of practice film in which Young threw a bad pass or made the wrong read. And within a week, Young pulled aside the same reporter to refute what he heard Montana had said.

In 1991, Montana was hurting before the regular season, and Young was eyeing his starting job. He told reporters, “[George Seifert] said he is not going to have a controversy at all but would look to keep us both sharp. I don’t know how he’s going to do it, but I’m going to be much more involved throughout the season.”

Responded Montana: “Wishful thinking.”

Lazarus mixes extensive research with interviews of Montana, Young, Jerry Rice, Eddie DeBartolo, Mike Holmgren and others to put together a fine read.

*The 49ers might have had the most interesting dynasty of all the dynasties, depending your perspective. At the very least, I think it’s fair to say their dynasty had a greater impact on the NFL than any other dynasty. Bill Walsh’s stamp on the game remains a bold one nearly a quarter of a century after he coached his last game for the 49ers.

That’s why I enjoyed watching the DVD San Francisco 49ers: Team of the ‘80s. This is an NFL Films production, so I knew it would be good. There are plenty of clips from Walsh’s personal library of his speeches to the team.

The documentary gives you a good feel for Walsh’s mastery. His goal for the 49ers was to be a “precision machine.” It was a concept he borrowed from Paul Brown. But Walsh perfected it.

“Our system of football sustained itself and refined itself further and further until at some point it might have even been an art form,” Walsh said.

His players bought in completely. “It was easy to believe Bill Walsh because he would tell you things that would happen,” Dwight Clark said. Randy Cross added, “We believe he knew something nobody else knew.”

There is no question, it seems, that he did.

Hot Reads

*Enjoy the applause while it lasts, NFL refs. You will be the subject of scorn and ridicule by next weekend.

*Something tells me Lovie Smith, Jim Schwartz and Leslie Frazier would have been very much in favor of T.J. Lang’s idea about having the Packers protest replacement refs.

*Strikes me that high def, flat screen televisions sold in the Tampa area should be going at a discounted rate, seeing the residents rarely get to see the home team.

*Adam Jones has had to shell out some big money for indiscretions recently, but, hey, what’s a little money to this guy?

*Since when did Mike Tyson start playing for the Broncos defense?

*Is it just me or is Andrew Hawkins playing at a different speed than everyone else in the NFL?

*Let’s just keep one thing in perspective, both for replacement officials and permanent ones: they have an extremely difficult job and they all deserve some respect.

Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at

Broncos safety Carter to have microfracture surgery

The Denver Broncos already won't have Joe Mays on Sunday when they face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, thanks to a one-game suspension.

Now, there is more bad news for the Broncos. The Denver Post reports that second-year safety Quinton Carter, who will need microfracture surgery on his knee.

The Broncos promoted a pair of players from their practice squad to get them back to 53 players for the game. They called up rookie safety Duke Ihenacho and second-year middle linebacker Mike Mohamed.

Follow me on Twitter @terrymc13

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Brandon Meriweather ready for debut with Redskins

Brandon Meriweather is ready to make his regular-season debut for the Washington Redskins and perhaps he can help a secondary that has been struggling.

The strong safety is expected to start Sunday at Tampa Bay after a knee injury sidelined him for the first three regular-season games and cost him time at the end of preseason.

Meriweather is probable for the game after injuring his right knee, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

I’d be ecstatic,” Meriweather said. “I love to play the game, man. Any time you get to go out there and actually play in a real game for something that means something and get in a spot where we ain’t been in a while, it’s meaningful.”

The Redskins have surrendered an NFL-high 10 touchdown passes to this point. Meriweather isn’t much in coverage and struggled last season with the Chicago Bears. He can probably have some value playing in the box vs. the run but the Redskins maintain he is more than that and is a better fit for their scheme. We’ll see.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Patriots are top Week 4 pick in LVH SuperContest

Despite the fact that home underdogs have posted a 13-6 (.684) mark against the spread through three weeks this season, a big portion of the 724 LVH SuperContest participants who submitted their entries for Week 4 decided to buck that trend and back the road favorites.

With a prize pool of over $1.1 million up for grabs, the New England Patriots (-4 at Buffalo) and San Francisco 49ers (-4 at NY Jets) were the most popular choices among the contestants for this week.

We’re currently sitting at 6-9 (.400) on the season after last week’s 2-3 campaign. Here are our five selections for Week 4:


CAROLINA PANTHERS (+7) at Atlanta Falcons
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-1) vs. San Diego Chargers
NEW YORK GIANTS (+2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-4) at New York Jets
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-7.5) vs. New Orleans Saints

<p> And here’s the full breakdown of picks for all 724 contestants:

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

odds chart

'Chalk Talk' video: Torrey Smith beats the Browns

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Click here for the previous “Chalk Talk’ breakdown.

During the Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Browns on Thursday night, QB Joe Flacco hit WR Torrey Smith for an 18-yard TD vs. Nickel Cover 2. Today, let get up on the chalkboard, breakdown the route, coverage and why Smith’s pre-snap alignment was key to Baltimore putting points up on the board.

Browns vs. Ravens
Personnel: Posse (3WR-1TE-1RB)
Formation: Empty
Route Concept: Double Smash-7/ Smash-Seam
Defensive Scheme: Nickel Cover 2

Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41

Want to see a scheme, concept or coverage broken down? Leave a comment or send me an email:

Which of these two fantasy teams are you backing in Week 4?

As has become the norm each and every Saturday afternoon here at the National Football Post, we wanted to share with you our weekend matchup for Cantor Gaming’s Cantor 7 fantasy football game that hit the market here in Nevada for the 2012 season. You can CLICK HERE if you’re new to this column and are unfamiliar with how the game works.

I’m not going to lie, we were sweating bullets during last week’s matchup, but still managed to find a way to eek out a 1.3-point victory to move our overall mark on the season to 2-0. Here’s what’s cooking for Week 4. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


QB: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (at Jacksonville)
RB: Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers (vs. New Orleans)
RB: Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (at Green Bay)
WR: Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings (at Detroit)
WR: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (at NY Jets)
K: Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. San Diego)
DEF: Seattle Seahawks (at St. Louis)

*This team is listed as a 5.5-point underdog


QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. New Orleans)
RB: Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Miami)
RB: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Washington)
WR: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (at Jacksonville)
WR: Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings (at Detroit)
K: Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings (at Detroit)
DEF: Houston Texans (vs. Tennessee)

*This team is listed as a 5.5-point favorite

We toyed with the lineups for about 45 minutes on Thursday and another hour on Friday and felt this matchup gave us the best chance for success. So if you had to throw down a wager on one of these two teams at the current line of 5.5 points, which squad would you be backing?

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh