Fresno State head football coach Jeff Tedford resigned on Friday, citing his health as the lone reason behind the decision.
“It’s with a heavy heart – and there’s no pun intended with that – but I’m announcing today that I need to step down as the head coach here,” Tedford said. “I’ve had some recent medical situations and concerns that really has been going through since midseason.”
Tedford said he woke up a few weeks ago and could tell something wasn’t right with his heart, but he decided to attend practice anyways.
After practice, he went to his cardiologist who immediately sent him to the hospital.
“They put me under and they had to shock me twice to get my heart back in rhythm, because it was going from like 48 to 167 for no reason at all, sitting here just like we are right now,” Tedford said.
In January, Tedford will have an ablation procedure at the Mayo Clinic at the recommendation of multiple physicians. This isn’t the first time that Tedford has had health issues regarding his heart. In 2013 he had stents inserted to combat blockages.
Tedford isn’t considering this a retirement, because he plans on staying in Fresno and supporting the program in whatever way he can. Although he said he seriously doubts that he will ever coach again due to his health.
“It took a lot of soul searching to do this, because I know what that team room looks like in there,” Tedford said. “I know what this coaching staff’s all about. I know what this university’s all about. And if there was one thing that just kept sticking in my mind, was we need to redeem ourself for this year, and I feel really confident that’s going to happen.
“But I’m not sure with my health that that’s in my best interest, and I did not want to experiment and take that chance with my health. And also, I felt like I have too much respect for this university to put them in that position of going down that road.”
Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb has been named as interim head coach, and the search for Tedford’s permanent successor is starting immediately, Athletic Director Terry Tumey said.
Tumey thanked Tedford for his time as head coach and for all of his support for the student athletes at Fresno State.
“Jeff Tedford embodies everything we want in a Bulldog,” Tumey said. “He’s a tough competitor. He’s tenacious. He’s smart. He’s strategic. He’s a hell of a coach. But the things that I don’t know if many of you appreciate are his amazing depth of character, his loyalty, his integrity, his compassion and his commitment to the development of young people.
“That is the legacy that Jeff Tedford will leave here as a coach, and that is the legacy that we will continue. And I am honored to be able to continue that legacy with Jeff as a partner in our athletic department.”
Since Fresno State is part of the California State University system, the job must be posted for 14 days before Tumey can hire a new coach. That marks Dec. 20 as the earliest day Fresno State can make a hire.
“This position has amazing interest nationally from all walks and kinds,”Tumey said. “However, we do have a process here. We are a part of the state of California, and we will abide by that process. As an athletic director of course, it is my practice to be able to evaluate and continue to evaluate coaches and staff at all times, so therefore – although this is a difficult opportunity – I am ready for this opportunity.”
Tumey said the university will try to move expeditiously in order to do right by the student athletes and give them an understanding of who their leader will be moving forward.
“This is a very attractive opportunity,” Tumey said. “I tend to believe that this search will not take long. It will be fast and efficient as we move forward.”
Given his experience, Tedford will play a role in selecting a new coach, Tumey said.
“Jeff Tedford’s going to be able to say, ‘Terry, this person’s character is what we need here. This person fits what this valley deserves. This person feels like a Bulldog.’ I’ve only been a Bulldog for a short period of time, and I’ve been able to have his mentorship help me become a better Bulldog every day,” Tumey said.
“Why would I not lean on a Bulldog who’s been here all his life and have him help me direct and find the next Bulldog to lead our football program?”
Tedford leaves Fresno State after three seasons and a 26-14 record. In 2016, before Tedford arrived, the Bulldogs went 1-11 and former head coach Tim DeRuyter was fired. Tedford took over in 2017 and won 10 games.
Fresno State won the Mountain West Championship in 2018, and the 12 wins were the most in program history.
Tedford played quarterback at Fresno State from 1981-1982 and returned as an assistant coach from 1992-1997. He also was the head coach at Cal from 2002-2012.
“I will still be here,” Tedford said. “I am not running out of town. This is my alma mater. I am committed to this place.”
After he has the procedure in January, Tedford said he will be able to spend some quality family time that he didn’t always have the chance for as a coach.
“I’ve worked all my life, and my wife and my sons have sacrificed a lot,” Tedford said. “Now it’s time to live.”
Photo: Fresno State Athletics