Tag:Jim Harbaugh
Posted on: February 21, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 6:03 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Stanford, which begins spring practice this afternoon.

Spring practice question: Can the Cardinal keep up the momentum under new coach David Shaw?

Fresh off the best season in school history - punctuated by a 40-12 dismantling of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl - Stanford’s offseason was filled with something rarely associated with the program: drama. After a week of will-he-or-won’t-he declare for the draft, presumed number one pick Andrew Luck stunned everyone by announcing he would stay in school. A day later, after being courted by Michigan and the Miami Dolphins, head coach Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers.

When hiring a new head coach was only the third most interesting thing to happen on campus during the offseason, you realize just how far Stanford football came under Harbaugh. Trying to continue what he build up is Stanford alum David Shaw, who slides into the head coaching role after being the Cardinal's offensive coordinator the past four years.

What’s his deal? For all the talk about Luck's role in the offense, Shaw is a believer in a balanced offense for one. Despite not having Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart last season, Stanford still finished second in the Pac-10 in rushing at 214 yards per game. Though most of the backfield returns in 2011, the major storyline of spring practice is finding replacements for three starters on the offensive line, including All-American center Chase Beeler.

“From a personnel standpoint, we have a chance to be very athletic upfront,” Shaw said at his pre-spring press conference. “The question is will those guys be consistent and will they play at the same level as those who they are replacing from last year. Ability-wise, we'll be fine. This spring we'll see who is ready to step up and fill those roles. A lot of our success will depend on how we play upfront.”

Offensive line isn’t the only area of concern for the first time head coach. There are still open position battles at linebacker, defensive line, cornerback and backup quarterback. The Cardinal might need five players just to replace all-everything Owen Marecic.

“The best thing about spring practice is the pure competition,” Shaw said. “We have guys coming back who played well for us last year but will be pushed by others ready to make their marks. We've recruited very well the last couple of years and we have a lot of players who are ready to compete and fill some roles.

“The next year is always different - different players, different roles, different schemes. You always have to add, delete and change. That's where we are at right now.”

The first week or two of spring practice will be a bit of a learning experience for the new staff. Shaw named former New York Jets assistant Mike Bloomgren as offensive line coach/run game coordinator and elevated Mike Sanford to running backs coach last Friday. Bringing on coaches just four days before spring practice starts isn't ideal and is something to keep an eye on but staff continuity elsewhere should help ease the transition.

Defensively, Derek Mason and Jason Tarver will share the defensive coordinator title and attempt to fill the shoes of the highly regarded Vic Fangio. Mason will also coach the secondary and will be responsible for calling plays, while Tarver will also serve as linebackers coach.

The return of Luck, however, is key for building on the success of last year. Shaw shouldn't have too much trouble keeping Stanford’s offense from dipping too much from last year’s unit that set a school-record for points scored and finished ninth in the nation in scoring. Having the Heisman Trophy front-runner under center tends to help but running backs Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson and others will also contribute. 

“With Andrew coming back, I've felt pretty good going to bed at night,” Shaw said. “I think he is comfortable with me in my role and I'm extremely comfortable with him. We have an established relationship that will only get better.”

With a manageable schedule (Oregon and Notre Dame at home to go along with just four road games) and lots of talent surrounding a future number one pick in the NFL Draft, Shaw could not have asked for a better situation to take over. With a little bit of Luck and a dash of good coaching, don’t expect a drop off from Stanford after using David Shaw's first spring practice to ease the transition from Jim Harbaugh.

Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Niners want to talk to Chryst

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While the Randy Edsall Award* of 2010 hasn't been handed out yet, there isn't much question that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is the runaway favorite to win it this season.  Chryst's name has popped up for job openings with Minnesota, Texas, Vanderbilt, Pitt and even the Dallas Cowboys.  Of course, none of those jobs actually panned out, but it seems there's another NFL team now interested in Chryst.

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has told the paper that the San Francisco 49ers have sought permission to talk to Chryst.  The 49ers recently hired Jim Harbaugh -- maybe you heard -- as their new head coach, and Harbaugh just hired Geep Chryst to coach tight ends and quarterbacks in San Francisco.  Geep is Paul Chryst's brother, and it's also a name I'm not sure how to pronounce.

Anyway, what San Francisco wants from Chryst, I don't know.  Greg Roman has already been hired as offensive coordinator, so if Chryst is to be offered a job, it'd likely be as a position coach.  There's also talk that a raise is in the works for Chryst at Wisconsin, and that it's just awaiting approval by the school's Board of Regents in February. So whether Chryst has any interest in leaving Madison or not, the fact that others are interested in him has earned him a raise at the very least.

*The Randy Edsall Award is an award I just made up.  It goes to the college football coach who's name pops up in the most coaching rumors during an offseason.  For the past few years Edsall's name came up in seemingly every opening, but he never left UConn until this season when he took a job at Maryland after his name was never even mentioned as a candidate.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Greg Roman off to Niners; Vic Fangio to follow?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When Stanford hired David Shaw yesterday to replace Jim Harbaugh as the Cardinal head coach, we wrote that while Shaw's many positives no doubt outweight the negatives, selecting him over fellow Cardinal assistants Greg Roman and Vic Fangio dramatically increased the likelihood that one or both would follow Harbaugh onto the San Francisco 49ers' payroll.

And unfortunately for Shaw and the Cardinal, we've already gone past the point of "likelihoods" and onto "certainties." Where Roman is concerned, the Mercury News is reporting it's a done deal , with only an announcement from the Niners left to make it official. That news has been confirmed by the San Francisco Chronicle , who have added that a team source with the Niners believes Fangio "is the guy" where Harbaugh's defensive coordinator position is concerned. The only thing standing in the way, they report, is the hammering out of Fangio's contract.

Assuming Fangio (at right) does indeed join Harbaugh and Roman by the bay, the next question becomes: how badly does this damage the Cardinal's run at a Pac-12 championship (or more) in 2011?

Neither's departure qualifies as a surprise -- both have spent most of their coaching careers in the NFL and only came to Stanford at Harbaugh's request -- but with the coaching carousel starting to slow its spin, mid-January isn't the best time to go looking for both a new offensive and defensive coordinator. Roman and Fangio will leave behind some big shoes for Shaw to fill, too; while Shaw held the official title of "offensive coordinator," Roman (the "assistant head coach for offense") by all accounts had a great deal of input into the offensive game-planning, and Fangio only turned in one of the best defensive coordinating jobs in the country this season.

Finding coaches of their caliber at this late date is going to be quite the first test of Shaw's head coaching aptitude. Their departures won't be enough to slow down the freight train of hype that will carry the Cardinal into 2011 -- Andrew Luck will see to that all by his lonesome -- and as long as Shaw isn't a disaster, Stanford should have enough momentum to challenge for league honors regardless. But they won't help the Cardinal handle those expectations, certainly, and maintaining the foundation laid by Harbaugh beyond 2011 just got much more difficult.

Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Stanford names OC David Shaw head coach

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After a season that ranks among the best -- if not the best -- in Stanford football history, and with a roster and staff that seems poised to repeat many of the feats of 2010 in 2011 and maybe beyond, it's not surprising that Cardinal athletic director Bob Bowlsby would look to maintain the status quo with his choice to replace the departed Jim Harbaugh. And so he has , as per the Mercury News, offensive coordinator David Shaw has agreed to become the Cardinal's next head coach. He will be announced officially later today.

The benefits to hiring Shaw (pictured at right, during his Cardinal playing days) are numerous and obvious: he's reportedly very well liked by the players, as a Stanford alum and long-time area resident he understands the institution and Palo Alto community, and at only 38 years old will bring about as much energy and enthusiasm to the position as Harbaugh did. If Shaw works out, he could be the head coach on the Farm for a decade or more.

The downside? Hiring Shaw over fellow Stanford assistants Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, both of whom were considered for the job, likely increases the chances that one or both will follow their former boss to the San Francisco 49ers. And though Shaw has several years of experience as an assistant both in the NFL and under Harbaugh, this will be his first head coaching gig at any level.

But when you're handed the keys to a kingdom as rich as Stanford currently is, success shouldn't be too hard to come by. If Shaw can convince either Roman or Fangio to hang around, don't expect to day's announcement to do anything to slow down the Cardinal momentum.

Posted on: January 12, 2011 3:17 pm
 

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Pac-10 goes 2-2 in its four -- yes, just four -- bowl games. Wrapping up:

1. Oregon still has to prove it can outfox teams outside the conference. For all of Chip Kelly's undeniable brilliance at the Oregon helm, the last three times the Ducks have stepped out of conference to face quality defensive opposition -- and frankly, we're being generous by even including Auburn in that discussion -- they've scored 8, 17, and 19 points (against Boise State, Ohio State, and the Tigers, respectively). Those totals are a far, far cry from the Ginsu job the Ducks have performed on the Pac-10 the past two seasons, and they beg the question: what kind of kryptonite do defensive coordinators outside the league have that those inside it don't?

To be fair, it may be a simple matter of preparation; all three of the above teams had far longer than the typical work week to watch film and prep for the Duck tempo. And the torrent of TV-dictated stoppages in bowl games didn't do anything to help Oregon's attempts to wear down the Buckeyes or Tigers from a stamina standpoint. But the root of Oregon's problems in these games doesn't have anything to do with either of those issues; it's that they've simply been destroyed at the line of scrimmage. Whether it's Boise's Ryan Winterswyk, OSU's Cameron Heyward, or now Nick Fairley, the Ducks have had no answer for the elite linemen on the other side of the ball.

No one will argue that the Duck offensive linemen aren't well-coached, athletic, quality players. They've been good enough to win two Pac-10 titles and 22 games in two years. But to take the next step and win Oregon's first national title, Kelly may have to find a way to upgrade his offensive front all the same.

2. If they can keep the staff intact, Stanford's not going anywhere. Or at least, not far. No one will argue that Jim Harbaugh wasn't the driving force behind the Cardinal's unfathomable rise to 12-1 and beyond-impressive 40-12 demolition of Virginia Tech (remember that despite their short-week loss to James Madison, the Hokies had ripped through an improved ACC without even being seriously challenged), but that doesn't mean he was the only force. Andrew Luck will return in 2011 as the hands-down, no-debate best quarterback in the nation. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has already drawn head coaching interest and has learned directly under Harbaugh the past three seasons. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio just finished overseeing the biggest single-season defensive improvement in the conference, if not the countr. And Harbaugh's recruiting prowess means the cupboard should remain well-stocked for the next few years.

2010 may be the high-water mark for the program all the same. But if both Roman and Fangio are retained -- and it seems likely they will be, if one or the other is named head coach -- don't expect much of a drop-off in the near future, even with Harbaugh in San Francisco. The team on display at the Orange Bowl was clearly constructed well enough to withstand the loss of a single pillar, even if it happened to be the biggest one.

3. Arizona doesn't really "do" that whole bowl game scene, man. The Wildcats' appeared to have taken an important step forward during the 2009 regular season, coming within one overtime loss against the Ducks of a Rose Bowl berth. But then they took a big one back with a 33-0 shellacking at the hands of Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. This year, Mike Stoops needed a solid performance in the Alamo Bowl to wash out the taste of the 'Cats' season-ending four-game losing streak, and instead his team laid another colossal egg, meekly succumbing to Oklahoma State 36-10.

With victories or even respectable performances in those two bowls, Stoops would still have his team firmly established as one of the "up-and-comers" in the Pac-10. As is, 2011 isn't a make-or-break year for Stoops just yet ... but another iffy regular season followed by a third bowl faceplent would mean 2012 certainly would be.

4. Washington had a winning season. OK, that's not really something we "learned" as much as something that simply happened, but it's as close as we'll get since we're not sure there really was anything to learn from the Huskies' 19-7 win over Nebraska in this year's edition of the Holiday Bowl. Certainly it was a thrill for Jake Locker and the other Husky seniors to go out with a win, and after a disappointing year for coordinator Nick Holt's defense, holding the Huskers to a measly 7 points -- after giving up 56 to them in Seattle during the regular season -- will provide some optimism for next year. But with the Huskers visibly unfocused and unmotivated for a bowl game they'd played the year before against a team they'd already flattened during the regular season (and Taylor Martinez still not 100 percent), it's questionable how much an accomplishment the win really is. And with the face-of-the-program Locker departed, it's equally questionable how similar next year's Huskies will look to this year's.

So: it's a nice story for Washington. But it doesn't tells us much, if anything, about the Huskies going forward.

Posted on: January 11, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Michigan must give Hoke a chance to succeed

Posted by Tom Fornelli

He's not the man Michigan may have wanted with its first choice, but as things stand, Brady Hoke is the new head coach in Ann Arbor.  He's the 19th coach in the school's history, and though some members of the Michigan fan base may respond with "Who?" upon hearing his name, he's not simply an afterthought.

Of course Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh would be Dave Brandon's first choice.  They are the quintessential "Michigan Men" that seems to be so important in Ann Arbor.  They've played at the school. Miles coached at the school, and he even has a national championship under his belt. Jim Harbaugh hasn't done either, but he was the coach du jour this winter.  And one with Michigan roots at that. Hoke isn't the definition of a "Michigan Man," as he played his college ball at Ball State, but he did spend eight seasons coaching Michigan's defensive line.  Including the 1997 season, the last time Michigan won a national championship. So he knows what it takes to win in Ann Arbor, as he's done it before. 

There's another difference between Les Miles, Jim Harbaugh and Brady Hoke other than their "Michigan Man" credentials, and it is probably something that is a lot more important than where either played college football.

Brady Hoke wants to be at Michigan.  It's clear that after two failed attempts to land him that Les Miles doesn't.  He may say he does, as he doesn't want to denigrate where he came from, but Miles is happy at LSU. He knows he can win there, and he's not sure that he can do the same at Michigan.  Harbaugh always had his sight set on the NFL, and now he's got his dream job.

Michigan is Brady Hoke's dream job.

Brady Hoke seems to believe he can win in Ann Arbor, and what reason do we really have to doubt him?  He took over his alma mater in 2003 and turned the program around in six seasons, leading the team to a 12-1 campaign in 2008.  Hoke then left for San Diego State, and Ball State hasn't won 12 games since.  Hell, they haven't won seven games since.

Hoke then took over a San Diego State program that had been dormant since Marshall Faulk was tearing apart defenses, and in two seasons turned the program around and led the Aztecs to a 9-4 mark in 2010.  Including a win over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Do you notice a trend here?  Hoke has gone to programs that were trending downward and built them back up.  Sure, there's a difference between the Big Ten and the MAC and Mountain West.  There's no denying this, but there's also a difference in building a program up when there's that block "M" on your hat and not the Ball State or San Diego State logo.

As long as Michigan gives Hoke some time, and I know it will be tough considering the down times of the Rich Rodriguez era, he will get this program on the right track.  Will he lead them to a national championship?  Only time will tell, but here's something else that Michigan fans should remember before dumping all over the Hoke hire.

Jim Tressel wasn't Ohio State's first choice after it fired John Cooper. He was just some coach from tiny Youngstown State. How's that worked out for them?
Posted on: January 11, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Brady Hoke named new Michigan football coach

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was done speaking with Les Miles, he took his jet to Southern California to hire the next head football coach for the Wolverines.  There is no word yet as to if an official offer was made to Miles, but after the discussions Brandon wasted no time in getting the deal done with San Diego State's Brady Hoke.

“We are pleased to announce the hiring of Brady,” Brandon said in the official school release. “He is a terrific coach and will be a great ambassador and leader for our football program. We look forward to having him build a championship program on the field and in the classroom.”

Hoke was a member of the Michigan staff from 1995-2002 as the defensive line coach.  His 1997 championship defense led the nation in rushing defense at 89 yards per game.  He was named the 2010 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Aztecs to a 9-4 record and 35-14 Poinsettia Bowl win over Navy.

Brady Hoke's name has always been on the Michigan radar, and it has been widely speculated that he has always been willing to accept the job if offered.  But before the Wolverines were ready to ink the eager Hoke to a contract, they had to at least ask about the services of alum's Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles.  In the last week the rumors flew from every direction, but after Harbaugh got hired by the San Francisco 49ers, and Les Miles announced he would stay with LSU; the move for the Wolverines became obvious. 

Hoke will be officially announced as the head coach in a press conference at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: January 9, 2011 12:58 am
 

Stanford reaches out to Chris Petersen

Posted by Adam Jacobi

After losing Jim Harbaugh to the NFL on Friday, Stanford has the enviable task of finding a new head coach. It's enviable because for the first time in almost 40 years,* an open Stanford head coaching position is actually desirable on account of the team coming off a major bowl victory. Buoyed with this success, Stanford is able to reach out to big names early in the process, and as Yahoo! Sports reports, Stanford has contacted Boise State head coach Chris Petersen.

Now, hiring a Boise State head coach isn't necessarily a guarantor of future success; look at what happened to Dan Hawkins down at Colorado , after all. Nonetheless, this report would seem to indicate that Chris Petersen is Stanford's first choice, and there's nothing athletic directors like to do more at hiring announcements than stand up there and proclaim that they "got their guy."

Of course, it also helps that Andrew Luck is returning for his junior season, which should definitely ease the new coach's transition to Palo Alto. One could argue that this decision by Luck will be a bigger factor than the head coaching hire for Stanford's short-term success, in fact.

Now, if Stanford can't bring in Petersen or any other "big" name for whatever reason, fans shouldn't be quick to be disappointed. As the San Francisco Chronicle reminds, Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby has made two football hires at the I-A level: Kirk Ferentz at Iowa after the 1998 season, and Harbaugh at Stanford in late 2006. Neither coach had any I-A head coaching experience; Ferentz was 12-21 in three years with the Maine Black Bears, while Harbaugh was 29-6 at San Diego (a school in the non-scholarship I-AA Pioneer League). Both hires have, to say the least, succeeded.

*In 1971, John Ralston led Stanford to its second consecutive Rose Bowl (a 13-12 win over then-undefeated Michigan , incidentally), then jumped to the NFL to coach the Denver Broncos. His successor -- Jack Christiansen -- didn't fare exceptionally well, going 30-22 in five seasons and never reaching a bowl before being fired, but he at least had a winning record in every season and paved the way for legendary coach Bill Walsh to take over. So if history repeats itself, it's not as if disaster lurks for the Cardinal in the coming years. Disappointment, yes, but not disaster.


 
 
 
 
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