Coach won 10 games in three losing campaigns
STANFORD, Calif. -- Three years ago, Ted Leland thought he'd found the right offensive football mind for Stanford in coach Buddy Teevens.
The results eventually told the athletic director otherwise, and Teevens was fired after three straight losing seasons.
"It was an extremely difficult decision, but I simply felt that the program was in need of new direction and leadership," Leland said Monday. "It's a tough day that we find ourselves in, a tough place, I guess. I am comfortable with the process we've gone through. I am comfortable with the decision."
Leland, a close friend of Teevens, met with the coach last week after the Cardinal finished 4-7 for the second consecutive year. Stanford lost 41-6 to archrival California in the Big Game on Nov. 20 for its fifth straight defeat, ending a season that began 4-2 with hopes of a bowl game.
The 48-year-old Teevens, who had two years remaining on his contract, is the first Stanford football coach to be fired since Jack Elway was dismissed in 1988 after going 3-6-2. Teevens learned of his fate Sunday morning, then met with his players Monday afternoon.
Respected for his class and loyalty, Teevens even showed up for the official announcement of his firing.
"Unfortunately, it's a win-loss business and I didn't win enough ballgames," Teevens said. "The attitude I have is I do believe I improved the quality of the program. I appreciate the opportunity. When you look back, there are a lot of things that are could have, should have."
Leland said a search for a successor would begin immediately, but he doesn't have a timeline for making a hire. His focus is an offensive-minded coach.
Stanford has six recruits coming to campus this weekend and Leland wanted a decision on Teevens' job status to be resolved before then.
"The things that (Teevens) built here, they're going to stay," linebacker Jon Alston said. "He started the boat rolling. Unfortunately, with the nature of this business, 10 wins in three years at Stanford is just something that people don't tend to accept. The outlook is very positive among the team."
Fans and alumni seemed to lose faith in Teevens for good following the embarrassing Big Game defeat. The Cardinal showed little poise in the waning moments, getting flagged for several personal fouls. Stanford struggled to score throughout Teevens' tenure.
Teevens finished with a 10-23 record in three seasons after taking over the program when Tyrone Willingham bolted for Notre Dame following the 2001 season. Teevens spent the three previous seasons on Steve Spurrier's staff at Florida.
Teevens, who traded phone messages with Spurrier on Monday, isn't sure what's next, though he pointed out, "I'm not one to rest too long."
His son, Buddy Jr., is a junior at Palo Alto High School and that will be taken into consideration when Teevens considers his next move.
"It's always hard when you hear the rumors going around," center Brian Head said. "You invest a lot in the team and become close with the staff, but when it comes down to it, we didn't win enough games."
Teevens was fired as Tulane coach in 1996 after refusing to resign because he didn't want his players to think he'd quit on them.
The Cardinal went 0-13 down the stretch during Teevens' three seasons. They were close in the final minutes in five narrow defeats this season -- including 31-28 against No. 1 Southern California on Sept. 25 at Stanford Stadium.
"We chose the right guy three years ago in my opinion," Leland said. "We'll do our best to choose the right guy this time. I don't think hiring Buddy Teevens three years ago was a mistake. It didn't work the way I was hoping."
The assistant coaches are still employed and will be interviewed by the new coach.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- CFP: First four unchanged, but Ole Miss falls
- Meyer's message: OSU better behave vs. U-M
- Hundley indicates he won't return to UCLA
- Big Ten denies appeal of Buckeyes' Spence
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Nike Men's Stanford Cardinal Rose Bowl Game Mascot T-shirt