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Get to Know a Coaching Candidate: Jim Harbaugh

The search is on.  Lew Perkins is hot on the trail looking to redeem himself with a big name football hire, or so we believe.  The handling of and subsequent dismissal of Mark Mangino wasn't the best of times for Kansas football fans but the end result seemed inevitable.  Now that the big man is gone, who's next.  Oread Boom Kings put together a nice list of candidates that seems to jive with most of what's filtering around out there in the major media outlets.  Speculation is going to run wild for the next week or so but hopefully we'll have a coach in place in the near future.

That in mind, a rundown of the candidates, their track record and a little resume review might be in order.  Worst case scenario is I post one of these, the new coach gets named and it isn't the guy I previewed.  Best case, we look at and discuss four or five guys over the next of them is hired and we can all act like we knew it was coming. 

Regardless, isn't the speculation half the fun.

Jim Harbaugh is obviously the current head coach for the Stanford Cardinal and at the youthful age of 45 presents a potential long term fix at the coaching position for Kansas.  The primary problem with that theory is his background and history might suggest otherwise.

Harbaugh was a four year letterwinner at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  The same University of Michigan that currently employs Rich Rodriguez.  Key word there is currently. 

Playing for Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, Harbaugh was a three-year starter. As a junior in 1985, Harbaugh led the nation in passing efficiency and quarterbacked one of Schembechler's best teams. The 1985 team posted a 10-1-1 record, defeated Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, and finished with a #2 ranking in the final polls, the highest finish for Michigan during Schembechler's tenure as head coach. As a senior in 1986, Harbaugh guided Michigan to an 11-2 record and a berth in the 1987 Rose Bowl while earning Big Ten Conference Player of the Year honors and finishing third in the Heisman balloting.

The next challenge that may someday pull at Harbaugh is the NFL.  Following his career with Michigan, Harbaugh spent a fairly extensive stretch in the league spending time with the Bears, Colts, Chargers, Lions, Panthers and the Ravens who currently employ Harbaughs brother as a head man.  For his NFL career, Harbaugh played in 177 league games with 140 starts. He completed 2,305 of 3,918 passes for 26,288 yards with 129 touchdowns.

Now during that time playing in the NFL and specifically his final 8 season stretch Harbaugh also served as a NCAA certified unpaid assistant under his father Jack Harbaugh who coached Western Kentucky University.  Harbaugh was a "offensive consultant" and he also helped in both scouting and recruiting during this time.  Harbaugh is said to be involved in recruiting 17 players on WKU's 2002 Division I-AA national champion team.

Once his playing career officially wrapped up in 2001 Harbaugh joined the Oakland Raiders of the NFL as an offensive assistant in '02 and the quarterbacks coach in '03.

Next up his first taste of college coaching in 2004 when he was named head football coach at the University of San Diego.  In his first year, he directed the Toreros to an overall mark of 7-4, including 5 straight wins to end the season. The following year, the team improved to 11-1 and won the 2005 Pioneer Football League Championship. In 2006, USD again went 11-1 winning their second consecutive Pioneer League title in the process.

In December of 2006 Jim Harbaugh took the job he currently holds as the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal football team.  Coincindentally Harbaughs father had served a stretch as the defensive coordinator with the Cardinal in '80 and '81. 

In his three seasons with the Cardinal Harbaugh has taken Stanford to a 4-8, 5-7 and currently an 8-4 record. 

Harbaugh has been a "hot" name in the coaching ranks for a couple of years now, interviewing for the open New York Jets position a year ago.  Whether his record and overall experience justifys it or not, he does draw a lot of interest when a job opens up.  Kansas can offer more money than Stanford, but does it offer the right opportunity for Harbaugh to jump at.  In short might he leverage the Kansas job for more money at Stanford while holding out for something else.

Then the question is does Kansas become a stepping stone or are they prepared to continue making the investment in the football program to keep him around?  A lot of questions swirling around this name and how serious an option it is or was we may not know.  Right now though, there is a lot of smoke coming from the Jim Harbaugh camp and as the saying goes...where there's smoke...well, you know.