Then-California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford adjusts his head phones while playing the Arizona State Sun Devils in the fourth quarter of a game at UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium on Sept. 29, 2012. Arizona State defeated California 27-17.
DANVILLE -- Jeff Tedford believes athletic director Sandy Barbour already had decided to fire him as Cal football coach before the Bears' 3-9 season ended with a 62-14 loss at Oregon State.
In an exclusive interview with this newspaper -- the only one he has given since being dismissed on Nov. 20 -- Tedford said there was almost no give and take during a 30-minute meeting with Barbour the day after the season finale.
"Her decision had been made and there wasn't really anything I could say," Tedford said.
Barbour met with Cal's administration afterward, held a conference call with Tedford and chancellor Robert Birgeneau a day later and gave him her decision.
"It was very cut and dried. No explanations," he said. "After it was all said and done, I think their minds were made up a couple weeks before."
Tedford said he doesn't believe Barbour made the decision on her own. "I think the chancellor had a lot to say about it," he said.
The winningest coach in Cal history, Tedford displayed no lingering sense of bitterness after working 11 years at the university. He believes the program's poor recent academic record was a factor in his firing and acknowledged his responsibility.
"I didn't do everything right," he said. "Made some mistakes. But always with great intentions."
Tedford and his wife Donna just returned from a 10-day trip to New Zealand. They have moved to Reno and are in the process of selling their home inDanville.
He said he plans to take this season off, then hopes to coach again. Tedford received a $5.55 million settlement for the remaining three years on his contract.
"I do feel relaxed, and yes I do have the itch," he said. "Got a chance to take a deep breath and kind of step back a little. You get on that treadmill and there's never really a minute where you're not thinking about some phase of it.
"There was a transition there that was a little difficult. It's almost like detox. ... I feel like I'm much more at ease now. I'm not as tense. It's been good. This whole thing is going to give me a chance to reflect on things I can do better and differently."
After putting some distance between himself and the disappointment of this season, Tedford said he will have mostly fond memories of his time at Cal.
"It's hard to see that if you have tunnel vision of just last year," he said. "It's really important I take that as a piece but I don't completely consume myself with that.
"There were so many good experiences."
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