Collegiate sports in the San Francisco Bay Area are — how shall we phrase it? — a little less intense than in other localities. For instance, if Auburn ever goes 1-11, expect that coach to show up at the next tailgate as the guest of honor, i.e., revolving slowly on a spit. But in Palo Alto, there was no rending of garments when Stanford won only one game in 2006, although coach Walt Harris was fired (we bet the letter came tucked in a basket of muffins, however). The Cardinal also took its sweet time choosing a successor (two weeks), finally deciding on former Michigan and NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who was 11-1 at the University of San Diego this past season.
That's the safe choice. Harbaugh's dad, Jack, was an offensive coordinator for Stanford coach Paul Wiggin in the early 1980s. That's how Jim landed in the area, playing his junior and senior years of football at Palo Alto High, which is directly across El Camino Real from Stanford. That's how they do things in the Bay Area (see: 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, son of former 49ers head coach Dick Nolan). Stanford's other coaching finalist? Former Cardinal receiver James Lofton.
We just looked at the San Francisco Chronicle story on Harbaugh, and this was our favorite part:
Harbaugh was arrested in November 2005 in Encinitas for driving under the influence after being pulled over for running a stop sign. Harbaugh, who refused to take a field sobriety test, pled guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving. He was sentenced to three years' probation, a $1,300 fine and attendance at an educational program for first-time drunk-driving offenders. Harbaugh was given a four-year contract extension at San Diego after the incident.
Well, as long as he was punished.
Stanford's Hail Mary [SFGate]