Be careful what you wish for, Jim
This blogging Stanford alum (’78) is underwhelmed, quite frankly (with apologies to my friend Stephen A.). When word hit my Blackberry last night that my alma mater would name Jim Harbaugh as its next head football coach, my initial thought was:
That’s right, not much.
Harbaugh apparently beat out my former classmate James Lofton, now the wide receivers coach for the San Diego Chargers. (Why my boy would give up a sideline view of Ladanian Tomlinson is beyond me!) His name was one of the first mentioned when AD Bob Bowlsby began his search two weeks ago, and my initial thought then was that there had to be better, more inspiring, candidates out there. Harbaugh is a former NFL QB (da Bears, primarily) who been a head coach for three seasons at San Diego State, a Division I-AA school, which does not have scholarships.
I’m not against hiring I-AA cats. I like Harbaugh’s record (29-6) and the fact that his teams won two national titles. His teams also score, a lot (42 ppg last season, tops in Div 1-AA), and they pass like NASCAR drivers (nearly 300 yards per game). Perhaps he’s bringing some innovative thinking to The Farm.
His key challenge will be recruiting. Moving from a non-scholarship school is one thing. Doing it at Stanford with its high academic barriers is another altogether. Ask your fallen predecessors.
A friend and former Stanford player who played under Harbaugh’s dad, Jack, a former Cardinal defensive coordinator, hit me with this thought: “I can only hope he did not pick up on the same approach to coaching and philosophy, which is closer to [just fired head coach] Walt Harris’s than Bill Walsh’s.”
One major plus: Stanford icon Jim Plunkett likes him. “I think it’s a good choice,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s energetic. He’s young (43) and he’s got a presence in a room. Hopefully he’ll be a guy that can walk into a recrut’s living room and the guy will want to come to Stanford because of him.” Well, that and a few other thousand reasons to attend Stanford! Sorry, I slipped into alum mode.
I’m willing to wait-and-see. This is Bowlsby’s first major hire since coming to Stanford earlier this year from Iowa. He’s got the credentials and the cred. Here’s hoping he knows how to discern it in others.
Will we get Happy Tree next season?