Fresno State Bulldogs

Fresno St. zeroing in on deal to bring Tedford back, another coach departs. Here’s who.

It has been one week since former Fresno State head football coach Kalen DeBoer left for Washington, kicking off a turbulent time for the New Mexico Bowl bound Bulldogs, but it appears that new leadership may step into place in the coming days. 

National college football reporter Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported Monday that Jeff Tedford’s return to Bulldog Stadium is imminent. 

Tedford coached the ‘Dogs from 2017-2019 and stepped down after his third season due to health concerns regarding his heart. 

ESPN reporter Kyle Bonagura confirmed Thamel’s report and noted that Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor and USC interim head coach Donte Williams have also been targeted by Fresno State. 

While the Fresno community is eagerly awaiting the final decision from Fresno State Athletic Director Terry Tumey and President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval, the staff shakeup continued on Monday. 

Now former offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb announced on Twitter that he is following DeBoer to Washington, leaving the Central Valley after five years. 

Despite all the distractions surrounding the coaching staff, Fresno State has started preparing to take on UTEP in New Mexico on Dec. 18. 

Interim head coach Lee Marks, who has been Fresno State’s running backs coach for the past two seasons, spoke to the media Monday afternoon to preview the matchup and address the state of the program amid the coaching change. 

“Our players have been through this before. Obviously not the young guys, but some of the older guys have been through this. It’s nothing new for them,” Marks said. 

“The one thing that has been really really good for our players is just how they’ve come together and they really have just been talking about, ‘Hey, this is about us right now and how we can continue this and try to go get our 10th win for the season and end this season the right way.’ Really, that’s been the message from day one when we heard that Coach DeBoer was moving on. We want to make sure that this team understands it’s still about the players and what they need and how they’re going to do things moving forward. It’s about development. It’s a developmental game, and these guys are going to do a good job just coming together and just trying to get better every single day.” 

Marks revealed that wide receivers coach Kirby Moore will fill in as offensive coordinator for the bowl game and serve as the play caller. 

If Tedford indeed proves to be Tumey’s pick, Moore could be auditioning for the offensive coordinator job now that the two coaches who served in that role under Tedford took off for the Pacific Northwest. 

Moore joined Tedford in 2017 after two seasons as a graduate assistant at Washington, which overlapped with Tedford’s tenure in Seattle as an offensive consultant.

With Moore jumping in as the signal caller, Fresno State’s starting quarterback against the Miners has not yet been determined after Jake Haener departed last week, likely to follow DeBoer and Grubb. 

Marks said true freshman Jaylen Henderson, who was the primary backup for most of the season, and redshirt freshman Logan Fife will compete for the starting job. 

“Between Logan Fife and Jaylen Henderson, we’re going to allow those guys to split the reps and compete,” Marks said. “We’ll see who’s going to end up starting in the bowl game.” 

Henderson appeared in three games this season and completed 5-8 passing attempts for 49 yards while Fife saw action in just one game, going 7-13 for 51 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. 

Besides the shakeup at head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback, the rest of the coaching staff and roster is still intact, Marks said. 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.