For years Cal football coach Jeff Tedford has been a man of limitless imagination and limited computer skills. He has operated a 21st-century offense while possessing a 19th-century grasp of technology.
"YouTube?" he asked famously at one of his weekly press conferences last season. "What's that?"
Had you told him then that YouTube was a distant cousin of the X-ray, or what Thomas Edison was trying to invent when he happened upon the incandescent bulb, Tedford would have had no choice but to take you at your word.
Those days have gone the way of the pager. As of Friday, Tedford has his own blog.
This is a great idea. As Tedford is slowly being made aware, it's an Internet world. And the Internet is a blogger's paradise. Now Tedford is a stranger in that paradise, which means he has the perfect tool to communicate with Cal fans, college football enthusiasts and potential recruits.
Thus, it's important he gets this right. We're here to help, starting with a critique of his first entry.
"I am hoping to provide the Cal fans with glimpses of the Golden Bear football program from the inside," Tedford wrote. Very good. Implies behind-the-curtain access, part of the Internet user's Bill of Rights, without overpromising.
"The purpose of this is to give insight," Tedford continued, "not to get caught in debates — I don't have time for debates with everyone." In that case, DO NOT provide readers with your e-mail address. Consider this friendly advice from someone who regularly receives e-mails with subject lines reading, "You must have majored in stupid at the moron academy," "Your mother wears Army boots," and "I wish to engage you in endless and tedious debate over your recently stated point of view."
"I hope to give regular updates as time allows," Tedford wrote, "but as you know, the season gets very hectic." Be careful here. Blogs can be like catnip to readers. If we know our Cal fans, they're going to want to hear from you after losses as well as after victories. Only more so.
Here are some tips moving forward:
Many bloggers come up with catchy pseudonyms. For example, the Warriors' Baron Davis refers to himself as Boom Dizzle. How do you feel about J-Tizzle?
There's nothing wrong with using grammar- and spellcheck. In fact, a quick review of Cal football fan blogs reveals professional looking sites with thoughtfully aggregated resources and links. Must be that Berkeley education.
Likewise, celebrity bloggers Gilbert Arenas, Curt Schilling and Tiger Woods compose entries that would make their high school core teachers proud. But that's no prerequisite.
This is the Web — it's OK to bend the rules. The use of slang such as "wazzup" or "dude," abbreviations, even texting shorthand such as "lol" (laugh out loud) or "DQMOT" (don't quote me on this) can give a blogger "street cred" (street cred).
For example, this could be a blog from a spring practice:
"Wazzup, Bear fanz? We went 7-on-7 2day at practice. We ran one screen pass where N8 Longshore almost thru the ball thru Javid Best. I was all, "OMG!" We all BAG. Dude doesn't no his own strength. CU. J-Tizzle"
While potential recruits might be drawn to the blog, it would be an NCAA recruiting violation to reach out to them in an overt manner. On the other hand, you could be in a defensible gray area if you were to write:
"Rough game today. I thought our quarterback was going to get killed by Washington's pass rush. How nice it would be, I thought to myself, if we only had a 6-foot-7, 295-pound left offensive tackle from Mater Dei High School on our squad."
A blog also could be used to talk up Cal's maligned athletic facilities. For instance: "I just left our training complex where some of the guys were taking a steam and watching a first-run movie." You wouldn't have to mention that the steam was coming from a broken pipe, and that the movie was being displayed on Cameron Jordan's iPod.
The key is to make it work for you. For example, it is rumored Pete Carroll has offered to blog about USC football for a $75,000 annual stipend.
Contact Gary Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.