Fresno State Bulldogs · Sports

Tedford promises MW championships amid Fresno State comeback

Amid much fanfare and excitement, Jeff Tedford officially took the helm of Fresno State Football once again Wednesday morning. 

His return, just two years after he stepped down due to health concerns regarding his heart, was the culmination of a set of perfect circumstances that only transpired because Kalen DeBoer departed for Washington. 

“The Lord just happened to create this position again,” Tedford said. “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.” 

The excitement surrounding Tedford’s second stint leading the Bulldogs was, as he noted Wednesday, a stark contrast to his emotional exit two years ago. 

After taking several months to recover from an ablation procedure in January 2020, Tedford started to feel the itch to return to the sidelines as he missed working with the student-athletes to better themselves on and off the field. 

“For sure about the last year I knew I was going to get back into football, because it’s just in  my blood. It’s who I am. I’m a football coach,” Tedford said. “I like to think I’m a leader of young people, so really I knew that I was going to reengage. I was energized and ready to reengaged.” 

Once DeBoer left the Central Valley on Nov. 29 to make the jump to the Pac-12, many Fresno State fans started calling for Tedford’s return, after it was reported that he was ready to reenter the coaching ranks. 

Tedford said he was prepared to move across the country for another opportunity as a head coach and never expected this position to line up once again for him. 

But DeBoer’s departure opened the door for Tedford to lead the Bulldogs down the ramp at Bulldog Stadium again, and that community support over the last week or so, clamoring for his return, was flattering. 

“It just reiterates in my mind what the Valley’s about, the relationships that we have in the Valley,” Tedford said. “What the passion that people have had over the last eight days just is loud and clear about how much the university and Bulldog Football mean to them. It was overwhelming, the support for the program number one, and then very humbling to have the support from people throughout the community.” 

After leading the Bulldogs to one Mountain West title and a 26-14 record overall from 2017-2019, Tedford will take over a team that is going for its 10th win on the season in the New Mexico Bowl next week. 

Although Interim Head Coach Lee Marks will lead the ‘Dogs in that game, Tedford has already started recruiting future Bulldogs ahead of the Dec. 15 early signing period. 

Tedford also remarked on the pictures lining the hallways of the football facilities, which includes one with him and Athletic Director Terry Tumey hoisting the Mountain West Championship Trophy in 2018. 

“We’re going to do that again sometime soon,” Tedford told Tumey. 

While he declined to provide names for who he has in mind for his coaching staff, Tedford noted the national interest in joining the ranks at Fresno State. 

“It’s amazing, and that’s why it makes you feel so fortunate to be a part of this and have a job,” Tedford said. “Because I can’t tell you how my phone has just blown up with candidates who would love to coach, who would love to be a part of our staff, part of this tradition.” 

Although complications with his heart led him to step down a couple years ago, Tedford said that he will not make any changes to his coaching style, but rather to his diet and exercise regime. 

“As far as the coaching’s concerned, I know one way to do it really, and that’s attention to detail,” Tedford said. “I can’t see that changing whatsoever. I’m not in this to be average or mediocre. We have a job to do. I do realize that there needs to be a balance as far as that’s concerned.” 

University President Dr. Saul Jimenez-Sandoval and Tumey both spoke to the importance of hiring a coach who has a remarkable track record to go along with an understanding and passion for the university and the Central Valley as a whole. 

Tedford checked all the boxes for them. 

“We needed to have somebody who understands the partnership of what you have with this university and who’s an ambassador to this university, who understands what this university’s all about and will be a partner for the long haul,” Tumey said. 

“We needed someone who understood the pride and tradition of the university and of this community. When I speak of all those things of what we needed, it culminated into a person who is truly a Bulldog from his undergraduate time period, from his coaching path, wherever it was, at the end of the day at his core he has always been and always will be a Fresno State Bulldog.”

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.