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New Stanford coach seems like perfect choice

Original post made by Stanford Fan, Old Palo Alto, on Dec 19, 2006

The announcement that Jim Harbaugh would be the new Stanford football coach was a bit of a surprise, given his lack of coaching experience (only 3 years at University of San Diego), but he is probably a perfect choice. This is a huge opportunity for him and Stanford probably wouldn't have been able to recruit a top-level coach...both because of money and the fact the team will take several years to re-build. And it's great to have a former NFL quarterback as a coach, hopefully with some more creative offensive ideas.

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Comments (17)

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Posted by BearsFan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2006 at 10:46 am

I'm happy to hear about it as well. I remember his years with the Chicago Bears fondly. After this season, Stanford can only get better!

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Posted by green
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 20, 2006 at 7:11 am

The finalists for the job were Harbaugh and former Stanford and NFL great James Lofton. I think that it was a big mistake not to appoint Lofton. For Stanford footbal to become competitive it needs to be able to recruit academically eligible black players in black neighborhoods and James Lofton who grew up in inner city Los Angeles would have been perfect for that. Remember the great recruiting classes and on-field success of the previous two African-American coaches at Stanford.

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Posted by JimmyTheGreek
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2006 at 10:19 am

I think that post is going to generate some controversy. That sounds alot like what former Heisman Trophy winner, Notre Dame and NFL standout Paul Hornung said in 2004: "We can't stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we've got to get the black athletes. We must get the black athletes if we're going to compete." I think Stanford needs to recruit GOOD players, not players of a particular race.

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Posted by John
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2006 at 4:47 pm


Hornung spoke the truth. Back athletes are superior, overwhelmingly. That is why the NBA is mostly black. The smattering of on non-black great players does not disprove this truth. The vast majority of college coaches understand this turth.

Get over your PC attack.

Stanford will not be good, in the Pac-10 until it can attract the black athlete, especially at skill positions.

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Posted by JimmytheGreek
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2006 at 6:36 pm

Believe me - I'm pretty non PC and I'm not attacking anyone. Maybe you guys are right, but just hearing it (or reading it) makes me uncomfortable. Its like you are saying that someone who is black is just naturally good at sports, and that's about it.
Anyway, I think academically elite schools often have a hard time getting really good players, black white or otherwise because if they are awesome athletes, they probably didn't have time to be awesome students.
With regards to the NBA, I think that basketball is very important culturallly in the black community, more than other sports like baseball or hockey. If you look at the NFL, I guess it is interesting to see how the talent breaks down racially.
On the other hand, and maybe this is naive, I just think we'd all be better off if we stopped thinking racially and started thinking humanly.
Finally, I think there's a huge difference between denying someone a place on a team because of their race and choosing them because of their race.

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Posted by John
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2006 at 7:19 pm


Black athletes ARE better than non-black athletes! Why? A combination of genetics and environment. Speed and qickness cannot be taught - it is genetic, period. A poverty environment produces the selection pressure for the best of the best.

Blacks and non-blacks are capable of similar intellectual achievement, but not athletic achievement (talking about populations here, not individuals). Stanford needs to go after academically high achieving black athletes. Yes, there might be an occasional non-black athlete that can cut it in the Pac 10 (at skill positions), but it such a rare thing that it is not worth wasting any thought on. Stanford needs black athletes in order to be competitive in the Pac 10. Otherwise, it should drop down to a different level. Jim Harbaugh knows this, but will not admit it, because he doesn't want to be slayed like Paul Hornung. But just watch who he tries to recruit....

The real question is whether Stanford wants to be competitive. If so, it will need to lower its academic standards for certain football players. I'm not talking about allowing an 800 SAT into Stanford, but how about an 1100?

If Stanford does want to do this, I don't blame them. But it should at least face reality.

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Posted by GSB
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 20, 2006 at 9:47 pm

Comparing athletes by race?!

I can't believe this conversation is happening.

Then again....yes, I can.

Just when I thought we came so far as a community.

~from a Black person w/o any athletic skill.

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Posted by TJ
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2006 at 10:19 pm

Thank you GSB for bringing some reality to this conversation. There are great athletes from all backgrounds and the main issue Stanford will have is finding enough skilled athletes who meet Stanford's academic standards.

One adavntage Stanford does have is that student athletes who do meet the standards will have many people encouraging them to attend Stanford. A Stanford education is hard to turn down and there are enough outstanding athletes out there that Stanford, with the right coach, should be able to get enough of them to field a competitive team.

Getting back to what this post was originally about, the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, I feel Stanford has made an excellent choice. If you have ever met Jim Harbaugh you will be impressed with his enthusiasm and his demeanor. The guy can light up a room. He knows the area, he is an intellligent man and he was a hard worker who got the most out of his athletic ability.

Jim Harbaugh will be an outstanding hire for Stanford.

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Posted by green
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 21, 2006 at 6:55 am

This is not about racial relationship but about how best to make Stanford football competitive again and fill out the refurbished stadium. Stanford needs to be able to recruit talented and fast players, especially on defense. Stanford is a very slow team, especially on defense. You can't succeed without speed. Those kind of players are in high demand among college recruiters. Like it or not, such players are mostly black and there's no doubt that a coach with the backround of James Lofton would be much more attractive to them than Jim Harbaugh, nothing against Harbaugh.

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Posted by ANGDYK
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2006 at 7:26 am

I do not understanding why it's assumed that a black coach will automatically draw black players as a former recruited athlete to LSU that statement is a broad generalization and is completely not true.

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Posted by John
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2006 at 1:08 pm

This discussion is SO Palo Alto! It has a PC taboo written all over it.

Look, if Stanford wants to compete in the Pac 10 it will need black athletes for its skill positions (at least). The game has changed over the decades, because black athletes now have a level playing field to show their (incredible) stuff.

Celebrate this fact, don't pretend it ain't so. Then get real about it. Stanford needs to attract top level black athletes, period. I hope Harbaugh's enthusiasm will be enough to do the job, but I have my doubts. I'm not sure that Lofton would do better, but he might have. Either way, Stanford will only turn around with great black athletes in key positions.

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2006 at 3:30 pm

I look forward to seeing what Coach Harbaugh can do at Stanford. He played with my brother at Paly and has had a successful NFL and coaching career to date. He brings a much need enthusiasm to the program.

I think the idea that a black coach will do a better job recruiting black players is lacking in merit. How did the ultimate good ol' boy - Bobby Bowden - recruit all of the black players that have played for him at FSU over the years? How is Pete Carroll doing it USC? Yes, these are super successful programs but it all comes down to relating to the players and their families and sharing with them your passion for your school and what they can do there.

Stanford does need more top level athletes on their football team. They need speed. They need to recruit the best atheletes. If they find their top recruits are black then that's who they need to go after but let's not leave out the rest of humanity - there are top level caucasian and asian (including pacific islanders) as well. They need to look at the entire field.

With regards to academics this has always been the crux of Stanfords difficulties. Once a student athelete gets in to Stanford they need to be able to perform and compete academically as well as athletically so lowering admission standards is not the answer. We know from Tyrone Willingham's tenure that it is possible to field a competetive team at Stanford. Harbaugh needs to learn from Willingham's example and bring success back to the program.

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Posted by John
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2006 at 4:13 pm

PA Native,

I think your answer is the problem. Stanford looks at the entire field of potential athletes, then selects them according to academic qualifications, instead of their 40 speed and agility skills. Can you count on one hand the number of non-black defensive corners in the top football programs? If we all could just get over the fact that black athletes are superior, we could then focus on how to attrack them within a reasonable academic standard.

Stanford has decided to become a world university, and that means higher academic standards, compared to previous decades. However, UC Berkely is also a world class university, and it has a top level football program. Cal allows for 'special talent' students, while Stanford is much less generous. If Stanford wants Pac 10 football, it will need to recognize special talent students. If Stanford does not want to compete in football, that is OK with me. I just want them to make an honest choice.

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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2006 at 6:04 pm


Thanks for your thoughts. It would be a terrible loss to the Pac 10 and to Stanford if the university were to formally downgrade the program. I can not envision this happening and I have an equally hard time envisioning Stanford allowing for "special talent" students. If Stanford does choose to create a "special talent" category I would hope they would provide those students with the support (tutoring, etc) they will need to succeed in the classroom.

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Posted by green
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 21, 2006 at 6:13 pm

USC, LSU or FSU are not good examples. These are schools with very low academic eligibiity requirements for athletes and cheating even on those very low requirements is common. Frankly, some of the great players on these programs left school nearly illiterate. Stanford is a world class university and I hope it never lowers its academic standards for athletes. The last two coaches didn't succeed in recruiting the speed and skill needed for Stanford to compete in the Pac 10. Stanford is a slow and not very athletic team. James Lofton could have walked into the living room of an inner city family and told them that he grew up in South Central, attended a world class university, became an All American, All Pro, a Hall of Famer and one of the most exciting receivers in the Pac 10 and NFL history. He would have been a great role model for those kids, because he came from the same background. That kind of resume would have probably convinced a reasonable number of academocally eligible, highly talented players to commit to Stanford. My guess is that in a couple of years w will have a discussion on this forum regarding why Jim Harbaugh hadn't rescued Stanford football, and many of the postings would be about how he couldn't get the mostly, yes, black, speedy, skilled and athletic players the program would have needed to succeed.

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Posted by Interested Fan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2006 at 5:11 pm

Just for argument sake, I went through Stanford media guides. In 1999, the team which went to the Rose Bowl, Willingham had 43 black athletes in the program. This past year, 2006, Harris had 36 black athletes in the program.
Creating success in football is far more complex than attracting certain athletes. It's also about coaching, head and assistants. Bill Walsh had winning seasons and losing seasons at Stanford. I'm pretty sure he was able to communicate with the student-athlete of any background. Ditto for Tyrone Willingham, Denny Green, Jack Elway and Paul Wiggin.
Harbaugh will be respected because he spent 15 years in the multi-racial NFL and he did OK. Obviously Lofton is also respected for the same reason.

Like this comment
Posted by mike
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Time for some logic and not age-old mytholgy here...I am African American, played with Jim at Michigan, from the "inner city" of Detroit, ...I won best conditioned athlete awards at Michigan, yet never started on the field, have a CPA licnece and run business enterprises...which box do I fit in?

Your self-fulling prophecy affects your perception...Please read read ALL of this article..guess what blacks are faster and slower...this will change some of your mythology faster than a Brian Urlacher 4.5, 268lb forty yard dash:

Web Link

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