Jim Harbaugh Has Brought Stanford Back to Relevancy
Since being named Head Coach of Stanford’s football team in ‘07, Jim Harbaugh has instilled a new sense of passion, enthusiasm, energy and pride into Stanford’s football program that hasn’t been felt around campus since the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. After last week’s win against Notre Dame in South Bend, Stanford now sits at 4-0 record for the first time since ‘86, and comes in ranked ninth in the country in the latest AP Poll. Harbaugh has effectively transformed a non-existent offense into one of the most exciting and productive offensive units in the nation behind the play of his young quarterback, Andrew Luck.The road only gets tougher from here on out and it starts this Saturday against the Oregon Ducks. Both teams are undefeated and it is almost guaranteed to be a high-scoring game. Thanks to Harbaugh and his coaching staff, Stanford no longer has to suffer through a 1-11 season. They are back to relevancy and will have a target on their chest for the rest of the season, as will Harbaugh. Stanford should enjoy this season as much as they can because I think Harbaugh is sure to leave once they claim the Pac-10 title at season’s end.Jim Harbaugh joined ESPN Radio Chicago with Waddle & Silvy to talk about what he thinks about his quarterback Andrew Luck, what the road has been like climbing all the way to a top-10 team in the country, and how much of Mike Ditka does he put into his own coaching style.
What he thinks about his quarterback Andrew Luck:
“He really is and he’s got a lot of things going for him; he’s decisive, he’s accurate, and he’s got great athletic ability and a lot of other qualities and most importantly, he is a better person than he is a football player and that’s saying quite a bit.”
What the road has been like climbing all the way to a top-10 team in the country:
“Well it is just a lot of hard work by the youngsters, you know. The football players they take a lot of pride in winning and playing for each other and I think that is the two things that motivate them when they go into a ball game. They want win and they want to be about each other and have each other’s backs and that’s a nice attitude to have and it’s been those youngsters that are tired of getting their butts kicked and they wanted to play better football.”
Whether he has got a player on the team that starts both ways:
“We do. We do. Owen Marecic. Tom, you would absolutely love him. He starts both ways at the 2 toughest positions in the game of football, at full back and middle linebacker. Imagine the physical toll that takes and it’s unchartered waters for him – he played over 90 plays in the ball game against Notre Dame, but also the mental aspect of just being able to do it; learn 2 schemes and go out and execute both of those schemes is really remarkable. He’s a Pre-Med student got about a 3.87 GPA and he is just unlike any other player I’ve ever been around in 30 years of the game of football.”
How many game balls he gave out after the Notre Dame game and who got the game balls:
“It would have been tough to play the game the next week. We gave out about 5 game balls. We were at USC, that’s all we had was 5. Nate Whitaker, the kicker had 5 field goals which tied a Stanford record. Conrad Roller, who made some big plays from the tight end position. Owen Marecic, who scored a touchdown on offense and on defense. I thought our special teams coach did a fantastic job, and our defensive coordinator. We needed to give out game balls. I’m glad we got enough to give.”
Whether he has been able to stay in touch with his brother and what does he say about the chances of his team scoring a ton of points this year:
“He really loves his team and I’ve got a chance to watch all 3 of their games. Going into the weekend I’m thinking about our game, then after our game is over I’m thinking about my brother’s game. It’s good to see the offensive production this week. Anquan Boldin had a big game and Joe Flacco looked like he was getting back in his rhythm, so it’s good to see.”
Whether he and his brother ever talk about playing in the Super Bowl and the National Championship game in the same year?
“Well, you know right now we’re just excited about today’s practice and today’s meetings and getting ready for this week’s opponent, but maybe this year we’ll get lucky again. It’d be nice.”
How much of Mike Ditka does he put into his own coaching style:
“Well as you can imagine quite a bit. I just loved playing for Coach Ditka. I talk to him about once or twice a year and the last time I saw him in person it was 2007 right before the season started. I hadn’t coached a game yet here at Stanford and we were at Bill Walsh’s funeral which was here at the Stanford Memorial Church and everybody in football was there and Coach Ditka was there. My wife and I sat next to coach and two things happened; all of our football players were the ushers for the funeral and a few of them had long hair and Coach Ditka turned over and knocked me on the shoulder and said, “Well I see you don’t have a hair policy.” Then about 30 minutes later, he hadn’t said anything since talking about the hair and then he said, “Listen Jim. I’m going give you some advice. You’re going to have critics. Screw ‘em. That’s classic coach.”