Often, when a team underachieves and suffers through a disastrous season, there are strained relationships between players and coaches but the team cohesiveness in the worst season the Bears have suffered since Cal head coach Jeff Tedford had been at the helm of the program was nothing short of remarkable this season.
From comments on Twitter to opinions expressed by players such as offensive guard Jordan Rigsbee and linebacker Nick Forbes this afternoon following the official press conference announcing the dismissal, players seemed to be in near-unanimous agreement that their former coach was highly-respected and would be greatly missed.
"It seems like it was only yesterday that Coach Tedford came and sat down with myself, my mom and my two sisters in my home," said Forbes.
"He's a great leader and he's very caring about his players."
"Coach Tedford means a great deal to me and my family," said Rigsbee. "He gave me and my brother the opportunity to play football at this great university so that means a lot to us.
"I think he meant a lot to everyone on the team. He's a really special guy that was really involved with us as people, not just players on the team."
Though the team may have expected this decision to happen, it was still difficult for many to process.
"It was kind of surreal," said Forbes. "It's kind of one of those things where it's like there's a big storm coming but you can't really know how it's going to be until it hits. It's been tough."
"It's a decision you heard a lot of people talking about," said Rigsbee. "Not a lot of guys really know how to react to it. We're trying to pull it together and see what we can do."
Tedford met with his players this morning to break the news to the team and leave them with his final sentiments.
"Everyone really respects Coach a lot and loves Coach a lot so it really meant a lot to us to be able to send him off in that way," said Rigsbee.
Tedford went out on a note consistent with his theme as both a recruiter and as a coach, with a call to stay the course and achieve all they're meant to achieve as both players and students.
"He told us he cared about us," said Forbes. "He told us that despite everything, he knows the kind of talent we have and that there will always be a part of us with him. He told us to finish strong academically because that was one of his main points in recruiting -that Cal's an academic institution and he wants us all to be successful in life."
"Through these trials, we all have to stick together as a team and continue with the direction that whoever it is that takes over and embrace the opportunity to get better and keep working."
Even though there was talk of the potential dismissal -something many to most players preferred wouldn't happen- there doesn't appear to be hard feelings about the decision but rather a sadness that the Tedford Era had to end as it did.
"I don't know if the players really understand but we all know it's a business," said Rigsbee. "We know that people are going to make decisions that are best for the university and us as student athletes, as Sandy (Barbour) said."
The players believe they have what it takes to be a winning program and achieve their goals, even if they're at a loss as to why it didn't happen this year.
"There's a tremendous amount of talent here. We have a lot of talent that hasn't been seen yet and we'll just continue to work together to develop that and use this year as a learning experience," concluded Forbes.
To view Rigsbee and Forbes' comments in full, use the embedded viewer below: