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The Tedford Curse is coiled, hissing, and ready to strike its next victim. And for anyone who has made his permanent residence under a rock, I am speaking of the long line of college quarterbacks that Cal coach Jeff Tedford has guided to excellence at the college level, only to see fizzle in the blazing saddles of the NFL.
Although we could probably unearth more, the current list of Tedford failures includes Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, David Carr, and Kyle Boller. Four of those five were top six picks. After Aaron Rodgers goes this year, almost twenty percent of NFL franchises will have vested their futures in a Jeff Tedford quarterback.
But before we rant about the misery these prospects have wreaked upon their respective franchises, let's take a step back and assess the situation from a cosmic perspective. There are probably 80 universities that consistently produce NFL players. What are the chances that over an eleven year period, twenty percent of the high school quarterbacks destined for NFL stardom would just happen to attend Jeff Tedford coached universities?
It would be exceedingly rare for any single university, even a powerhouse, to produce six first-round draft picks at any one position over an 11-year period. In fact, one might reckon that it has never happened in the history of sports. Are we just supposed to believe that at every coaching stop Tedford makes he just happens to find a quarterback, or two, with first-round potential? Are twenty percent of future first-round quarterbacks from across the nation flocking to Fresno State, Oregon, and Cal?
It's fairly obvious that Tedford is the common denominator. He's finding slightly above average quarterbacks and fulfilling their potential. It just so happens that they have enough potential to excel at the college level, but not enough to start for an NFL team.
It might make sense to overlook the Tedford Curse had Rodgers shattered the Pac-10 record books or at least taken a page for himself. But I'm not even convinced that Rodgers compares favorably with Cody Pickett, a player who threw for 4,461 yards his junior year - almost 2,000 more than Rodgers last year.
I would swap the first pick for Philip Rivers in a heartbeat. Rivers is three inches taller than Rodgers and 20 pounds heavier. He comes without the signing bonus, and without the lineage of failure. He has a year of NFL experience under his belt, which saves us a year of rookie miscues. He wasn't a system quarterback, like Alex Smith, or a product of great coaching, like Rodgers. He's simply a tough kid who put together a brilliant four year career. I'd take that over Tedford's latest any day.