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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stanford Hires Jim Harbaugh To Coach Football

Successful USD coach hired to reverse faltering program

By Brent Schrotenboer
December 19, 2006

JIM BAIRD / Union-Tribune
Jim Harbaugh led the Toreros to a 22-2 record since 2005 after going 7-4 his first season in 2004.
USD head football coach Jim Harbaugh has been hired to coach Stanford, reuniting him with his Palo Alto roots and ending a dominating tenure in San Diego that made him a candidate for several major college football jobs across the country.

Harbaugh, who turns 43 Saturday, will be introduced as Stanford's new coach at a 2 p.m. news conference today in Palo Alto, where he played at Palo Alto High, and where his father, Jack, served as Stanford's defensive coordinator in 1980-81. A Stanford athletic department spokesman confirmed the hire yesterday.

“It's a job Jim has coveted for a long time because of his history in Palo Alto,” said Harbaugh's agent, Jack Bechta. “He's been on the campus a hundred times. He's been to their practice field, been to their games. Stanford has been a big component of his life, so it's somewhat of a homecoming for him. But he's also heartbroken to be leaving USD and their players. They're a special group of guys, and he couldn't get there without their help.”

Harbaugh and USD Athletic Director Ky Snyder did not immediately return phone messages yesterday seeking comment. After interviewing last year with San Diego State and Rice, and this year with Iowa State, Tulane and North Texas, Harbaugh landed on top of a Stanford search that included Chargers receivers coach James Lofton, Montana head coach Bobby Hauck and former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel.

Harbaugh will replace Walt Harris, who was fired after his team went 1-11.

Winning ways:

Jim Harbaugh was 29-6 in three years at USD, including 27-2 in his last 29 games. His record, compared with that of Stanford, where he takes over next season:


'04 7-4 .636

'05 11-1 .917

'06 11-1 .917

TOT 29-6 .829


'04 4-7 .364

'05 5-6 .455

'06 1-11 .083

TOT 10-24 .294

In his first head coaching job at the major college level, his biggest challenge will be making Stanford competitive again despite its rigid academic admissions requirements. But it's an angle he's tackled before at Division I-AA USD, where there are no scholarships for football and the school prides itself on a pristine private academic reputation.

Harbaugh led the Division I-AA Toreros to a 22-2 record since 2005 after going 7-4 his first season in 2004. In contrast, Stanford has won just 16 games the past five seasons under Harris and previous coach Buddy Teevens.

Harbaugh's coaching record, fiery personality and fame as a player boosted his candidacy for several open jobs. He played 15 years as a quarterback in the NFL after starring at Michigan, where he finished third in the Heisman Trophy award voting in 1986 behind winner Vinny Testaverde and runner-up Paul Palmer.

Harbaugh lives in Coronado, where he is divorced and has three children.


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