Stanford Cardinal Savior or…

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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.

Apparently not.

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.

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Will we get Happy Tree next season?

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3 thoughts on “Stanford Cardinal Savior or…

  1. Susan Hyatt says:

    Dear Mr. Johnson, You are absolutely correct in what you told your son in the column I just read on the internet. More parents should follow YOUR example!
    Sports people are entirely out of hand at all levels. My solution is simple ,but would be very effective. Professionals who brawl, spit, swear, instigate, do drugs, etc; whether coaches or players, should be fired instantly….no more paychecks period! No rehiring by ANYONE in sports world for five years. Counseling for rage control. Amatures should lose scholarships and be inelegible to play forany other school or pros ever. Coaches should be fired if part of this. This would probably stop almost all of this really bad behavior.
    Thank you for listening. Susan Hyatt

  2. I really don’t know what to think about Jim Harbaugh. As a Cal alum, I’m actually hoping he improve sStanford so we won’t take a rankings hit when we trounce them each year in the Big Game. That said, JH has a long haul ahead. No JCs, No lessening of academic standards, equals Wake Forest of the West. Good teams once a decade, the dregs of the league the rest of the time. In all honesty, Stanford can soon find themselves in the second division for decades if they don’t recruit well in the next five years. Something tells me that Harbaugh isn’t the one.

  3. Bill says:

    How are you feeling about him now after they knocked off USC?

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