A look back at Harbaugh's post-3rd year offseason at Stanford

Submitted by Prince_of_Nachos on July 9th, 2018 at 5:07 PM

Hey, height of the offseason, thought I'd take a look back at a few things.

Alright, so last season was largely painful to watch, and the offense was a far cry from what we expected when we landed Harbaugh. This was nothing like the awesome Stanford juggernaut that mashed the PAC-12 to bits in 2009 and 2010.

But what if I told you that this season basically did happen at Stanford? Harbaugh was in his third year there, coming off of an 8-5 season (a miracle to most of the world but a disappointment to him) in which he had fielded a top ten unit (the #3 S&P+ offense), but paired it with a downright awful unit (the #83 defense). Sound familiar?

I think it's fair to say that a lot of frustration earlier in the offseason was largely due to Harbaugh’s own lack of characteristic intensity and anger in response to the obvious coaching ineptitude on his staff. Especially when you read articles like this, discussing his response to that 8-5 Stanford season:

He fired several coaches and stripped another coach of offensive responsibility after Stanford's first winning season in eight years. One of the fired staff members was a friend and former player who had attended Harbaugh's wedding.

Harbaugh acted with SWIFT VENGANCE AND FURIOUS ANGER! As was appropriate.

Except if Harbaugh was pissed, he never made it public. The article linked above was written several years after the fact. I haven’t found a single gossipy or negative article about the coaching turnover during this time (and yes - this is Stanford football - but still).

The only coverage I could find is from a Stanford Daily article in the spring of 2010. Now the language in these articles is always meant to soften the blow of a firing or demotion. But in following what happened to each of the coaches that left, it’s clear that Harbaugh went out of his way to find impactful landing spots for all of them. The list:

Andy Buh – essentially fired as co-DC, but ends up getting an equivalent role at his alma matter

Ron Lynn – also essentially fired as co-DC, but Harbaugh retained him in a player development role

Taggert – Harbaugh probably didn’t want him to leave, but supported him getting a head coaching gig

Clayton White – also essentially fired as DB coach, but found a job with Taggert

DJ Durkin –probably considered moving to Florida (a team coming off two national championships in three years) as an upgrade. (He was wrong, Urban went 8-5 in 2010 and quit on his team for the second time in as many years).

So what happened in 2010? Harbaugh brought in longtime NFL DC Vic Fangio and current Vanderbilt HC (but then only an obscure NFL position coach) Derek Mason. His new hires upgraded the defense to very solid (#23 S&P+) while the offensive staff maintained an elite unit (#3). Although recruitniks didn’t identify it in 2007-2009, Harbaugh’s foundational classes produced what some consider to be the most talented college team not to play in a BCS title game, and the Cardinal went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.

Looking forward to 2018.





July 9th, 2018 at 11:23 PM ^

The problem is that we want instant success...we want to knock off teams like OSU and MSU that have dominated the big ten for the last decade.  What we need to do is support and not buy into the 24/7 365 media circus about everything.


July 10th, 2018 at 9:45 AM ^

So does this infer that Pep Hamilton is the next to go ?   Still don't know who is running the offense.  You have ex Florida coach McElwain coaching the wrs, or as pass game coord?   And Hamilton ? What does he do ?  THIS is the problem.    

Bo had a OC   and a DC,  not this role sharing crap.


July 10th, 2018 at 5:48 PM ^

Personally I couldn’t care less about which coach holds what title.

All I want is 1) an offensive line that actually knows what it’s supposed to be doing on the field, and 2) 2 scholarship QBs who can actually...you know...quarterback. 

Accomplish these two things and titles are meaningless. 

Perkis-Size Me

July 10th, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

The potential is certainly there for a bounce back year. Harbaugh has got all the talent he needs. Probably the second most talented team in the conference, and more than enough of it is there to beat OSU. 

The team will go as far as the OL can take it. As far as Warriner can coach it. Hopefully the results come sooner rather than later. 


July 10th, 2018 at 8:29 PM ^

Not too worried .  8 n 5 with basically a redo team and zip for QB means all upside with improvement across the board. I love the pile on by certain teams ....just jells the team and adds focus. Can't wait to watch.