Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stanford to Hire former Michigan great and former NFL QB Jim Harbaugh of the University of San Diego as its New Head Football Coach

According to an article by AP sports writer Josh Dubow featured at Yahoo Sports, the current head coach of the University of San Diego non-scholarship Division I-AA football team is to be announced later today as the new head football coach at Stanford.

Although our first choice was Larry Kehres of Mount Union, Harbaugh meets the major criteria that we thought Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby should follow in selecting a replacement for former coach Walt Harris: pick a winner and pick someone whose coaching success is not entirely dependent on recruiting or a particular system of football.

In other words, the object was to get someone who can coach football well, who can adjust the style of play regardless of the players available to him, and - although Harbaugh is also an experienced and successful recruiter - someone who is not totally at the mercy of the difficulty of recruiting players to Stanford, where few high school graduates have the academic credentials required to be accepted to Stanford's academic program.

In other words, Stanford needs a coach who can get maximum performance from his team, retain the fun of the game, and bring spectators into the stadium, even though his recruiting hands are more-or-less tied by the admissions office. No easy task.

Harbaugh may be just the man to do this. The former University of Michigan quarterback - who finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1986, and who played successfully 15 years in the NFL - put up a 29-6 win-loss record as coach of the San Diego Toreros, winning 27 of the last 29 games, including championship of the Pioneer League and an 11-1 record this season, with only a 37-27 loss to the nationally ranked California-Davis Aggies to mar the perfect season. Gaining respect for his coaching prowess at a higher level of college football is, however, another matter, and only time will give us an answer on that question.

San Diego scored 68 touchdowns this year as opposed to only 21 by opposing teams, putting up nearly 500 yards total offense per game - nearly twice that of the opposition - and outscoring the other teams on average by nearly 43 to 13.

The Toreros closed out the year in the inaugural Gridiron Classic with a 27 to 7 win over the 10-2 Monmouth Hawks, champions of the Northeast Conference. As reported by Yahoo:

"...this gave San Diego (11-1) the mid-major national championship for the second straight year."

As written at the site of Sean Mayers of St. Peter's College, 2005 Brooks-Irvine 1AA Player of the Year:

"Division I-AA Mid-Major is an unofficial grouping of 22 programs that compete in Division I-AA with limited athletics-related or need-based financial aid. The teams that are included are members of the MAAC Football League, the Northeast Conference and the Pioneer League, which is based mostly in the Midwest. The Sports Network is a wire service that has a long background conducting awards programs and polls for I-AA football."

(Note that the Wikipedia entry "Mid-major" is in need of a mid to major revision).

See the final rankings of the Division I-AA Mid-Majors this year at the Sports Network.

We do not know how long Harbaugh's biography will remain online at the University of San Diego website, so we reproduce it below for the record from the Torero site:

"Jim Harbaugh begins his third year as the University of San Diego head football coach and quarterbacks coach. Last year he guided the Toreros to a program-best 11-1 overall record, the PFL North Division title, the outright PFL Championship, and to the No. 1 ranking for all I-AA Mid-Major programs. The Toreros received the Sports Network Cup for being the No. 1 ranked team in the final poll. Additionally, Harbaugh was the PFL North Division Coach of the Year and a nominee for the I-AA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. Under his direction the Toreros enter the 2006 campaign having won 16 of their last 17 games.

In 2004, his first year, he directed the Toreros to an overall mark of 7-4, including 5 straight wins to end the season. USD finished 3-1 in the Pioneer Football League North Division, good for a 2nd place finish. Five of his players were recognized as All-America; twelve were recognized as All-PFL; eight players were selected to the PFL All-Academic Team; and quarterback Todd Mortensen, the PFL co-Offensive Player of the Year, signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions.

Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback who played 15 seasons in the league, played locally with the Chargers between 1999-2000. The 41-year-old Harbaugh, who resides in nearby Coronado, played in 177 league games with 140 starts since originally entering the NFL as a first round pick by the Chicago Bears in 1987. For his career, he completed 2,305 of 3,918 passes for 26,288 yards with 129 touchdowns.

Harbaugh played seven seasons for the Bears and passed for a career-high 3,121 yards for Chicago in 1991. He played for the Indianapolis Colts from 1994-97 and in 1995, achieved career highs in completion percentage (63.7) and touchdown passes (17). While with the Colts he led the team to the AFC Championship game; was voted to the Pro Bowl; was named the 1995 Comeback Player of the Year and the AFC Player of the Year; and was runner-up in the NFL MVP voting. Harbaugh played for Baltimore in 1998, and following his two-year stint with the Chargers closed out his NFL career with Carolina in 2001.

In January, 2005, Jim was inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor. Harbaugh, one of the most successful and popular players in the club's 21-year Indianapolis era, played from 1994-98 with the Colts. He was inducted at halftime of the Colts-Denver Wild Card playoff game. Jim started for the majority of his Colts career, completing 746 of 1,230 passes for 8,705 yards and 49 touchdowns. He won the NFL passer rating title in 1995 at 100.7. Harbaugh joins the late Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Ted Marchibroda and Chris Hinton in the Colts Ring of Honor.

Harbaugh was a four-year letterman at the University of Michigan and finished his college career in the top five in passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards and touchdown passes. Playing for Bo Schembechler, he was a three-year starter and led the Wolverines to appearances in the Fiesta, Holiday, and Rose Bowl games. As a senior in 1986 he guided Michigan to a No. 2 national ranking while earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and finishing third in the Heisman balloting.

Over his final eight seasons in the NFL (1994-2001), Jim was an NCAA-certified unpaid assistant coach under his father, Jack, at Western Kentucky University. Serving as an offensive consultant, he scouted and recruited high school student-athletes throughout several states including Florida, Indiana and Illinois. He was involved in recruiting 17 players on WKU's 2002 I-AA National Championship team. His dad was a football coach for 41 years, including 14-years as Head Coach at Western Kentucky. His brother, John, is currently Special Teams Coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles; and his brother-in-law, Tom Crean, is Head Basketball Coach of Marquette University.

Harbaugh has been very active in Community Service ventures. He has been actively involved with the Harbaugh Hill Foundation, the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children (Indiana University), Western Kentucky University, the Jim Harbaugh Foundation, the Uhlich's Children's Home and the Children's Miracle Network.

Jim, who resides in Coronado, is the father of three kids - sons, Jay and James, Jr., and one daughter, Grace. "

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