Dec. 28, 2011
Jackie LaPenta, Texas Media Relations
Pat Irby, father of senior tight end Blaine Irby, felt the joy of life’s ironic moments upon discovering that his 25-year friendship with California head coach Jeff Tedford would meet at a crossroads when Texas faces the Golden Bears for the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on January 28.
“It is kind of funny that Blaine is going to finish up his career playing against a family friend like this,” Pat Irby said. “It is going to be fun.”
Pat Irby and Tedford met through Rich Olson, a mutual friend and Blaine’s godfather, while Tedford was an assistant coach at Fresno State.
“We had a lot of fun playing golf with a group of guys, but my fondest memories of Jeff would be spending time with his wife and family,” Irby said. “From time to time, we would have our families together by having big barbeques in the back yard where we would throw horseshoes.”
While Blaine was only one and a half years old during these family outings, he has had the privilege of building his own foundation with the Cal coach.
“Coach Tedford is one of the most respected coaches in the nation,” Blaine remarked. “Cal’s a great school and they have had a hard fought season.”
In his decade-long tenure at Cal, Tedford has accumulated a .627 winning percentage and an overall 79-47 record making him the school’s all-time wins leader. He is also responsible for shaping the careers of NFL standouts WR DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch and reigning NFL Super Bowl MVP Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
Thankfully for Texas fans, the younger Irby, who has scored three touchdowns in as many games, is not on the list of great athletes that Coach Tedford has overseen at Cal.
“Blaine went to his camp up at Cal,” the elder Irby said. “Coach Tedford really like Blaine and Blaine really liked the campus.”
Tedford’s advice, in fact, was part of the reason that Blaine will be wearing burnt orange on Wednesday.
“When I was going through my recruiting process, he really helped me out,” Blaine said. “He told me what to look for and what interested me as a person and really gave me some life-long advice on the recruiting process.
“It definitely helped me in choosing UT."
Blaine has played in 26 games for the Longhorns and has recorded 22 receptions for 251 yards and five touchdowns in three-seasons of play. He missed the 2009 and 2010 seasons with a severe knee injury sustained against Rice in 2008.
Even though Blaine chose to attend the University of Texas, Coach Tedford has enjoyed watching Blaine grow and flourish into an elite football player.
“To see Blaine grow from a little boy to a very good high school football player [was great],” Tedford said. “I’m really happy to see that he’s recovered from his injury, which seemed to be major and could have curtailed his college playing experience. So to see him back is nice.”
Despite the competitive setting, both Blaine and his father are grateful that the two team’s hectic football schedules allow for them to spend a day with their long-time family friend.
“It will be cool to see him,” Blaine said. “I know he is very busy right now with the game, but I am definitely going to go over and see how he is doing and wish him a Happy Holiday.”