By Jonathan Okanes
The next time Cal football coach Jeff Tedford has a teamwide issue to deal with, he'll have one less duty to worry about.
Tedford gave up his role as play caller Sunday by hiring Frank Cignetti as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Cignetti spent last season as the 49ers' quarterbacks coach and has 19 years of coaching experience on the college and professional level.
Tedford had been effectively doubling as the Bears' offensive coordinator. Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik had the title of offensive coordinator last season but was more of an assistant head coach. Tedford said he wanted to allow himself to do a better job of overseeing all aspects of the program.
Tedford also announced a handful of other coaching moves. He hired Al Simmons as defensive backs coach, while Tosh Lupoi was promoted from graduate assistant to defensive line coach. Kevin Daft moves from quarterbacks coach to wide receivers coach.
"The main reason for all this realignment of the staff is so I can be more efficient with my head coaching duties -- spend more time with a lot of things," Tedford said. "Right now as the play caller, I kind of get so involved with the offense. I want to be able to have a chance to do some things with the defensive players and special teams."
The Bears (7-6) finished the regular season by losing six of their last seven games before beating Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. Tedford said he was
"It wasn't that I was neglecting anything," he said. "I always try to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on. It's hard to do it all. I don't have any regrets about anything this year as far as that is concerned. I just feel like I could probably be more efficient."
Simmons and Daft replace R. Todd Littlejohn and Dan Ferrigno, respectively. While a source said earlier in the week both coaches were fired, Tedford said Ferrigno left "to pursue other options." With regard to Littlejohn, Tedford said "we felt like it was time to go in a different direction there."
Lupoi takes over for Ken Delgado, who is in line for a job at another school. Delgado came to Cal with Tedford in 2002.
Simmons has had stints at five NCAA Division I schools and spent two seasons with the 49ers, as well. Simmons was Cal's cornerbacks coach from 1998-2000.
"Everybody is excited about new people coming in," Tedford said. "They always bring new ideas in a lot of areas. And the energy level of the guys getting to know the coaches and the coaches getting to know the players brings a breath of fresh air and excitement."
Tedford said he and Cignetti have a lot in common in terms of football philosophy. They also share a common former job -- each was the offensive coordinator at Fresno State, Tedford's alma mater.
"The bottom line is my wife and I missed college football," Cignetti said. "We missed the passion and the spirit of the college game, and also the opportunity to help student-athletes develop their life skills."
Note: Tedford dismissed rumors that he had considered hiring 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer as offensive coordinator but did say he talked to Dilfer about Cignetti. "I don't know where that came from," he said. ... Tedford said running back Jahvid Best (hip) is off crutches and likely won't require surgery. Best still will undergo further tests as soon as his bruising is completely gone.
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