The 49ers have just made him their newest coach, agreeing on a 5-year/$25 million deal. This is a perfect fit for Harbaugh, although he still needs what he’s best at, and that’s a franchise quarterback. Perhaps they take one in the first round of the draft this year? If not, do they make a run at a guy like Donovan McNabb or Vince Young? It will be interesting to see how this Harbaugh translates to the NFL (his brother John hasn’t done too shabby over in Baltimore), but I don’t think he could have put himself in a better situation.
On Christmas day in 2004, the Miami Dolphins hired the then coach of the LSU Tigers, Nick Saban, as head coach. He entered with high expectations, but he finished out his two year stint in the NFL at 15-17 before rushing back to the college football ranks. It was actually done rather quickly and caught the Dolphins off-guard. They got stuck with Cam Cameron as head coach and went 1-15 the next season. With the team in shambles, they turned to Tony Sparano to turn the team around. In his first season, he took the Dolphins to 11-5, one of the greatest single season turn-arounds in NFL history. He’s finished 7-9 the past two seasons which still isn’t bad for a team that was in shambles a few years ago. Why do I bring this up? Because the Miami Dolphins are set to meet with Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh and are interested in making him the highest paid head coach in the NFL at around $7 – $8 million. I can’t help but shake my head at this one. Jim Harbaugh is a good coach, but has only proven it as a head coach at the college level. To give someone who’s only been a QB coach in the NFL for 2 seasons the biggest contract of any head coach out there is a terrible idea. I think he has the tools to succeed, but the money doesn’t match the experience. Essentially, I think they’re just shelling out cash for the hell of it like the New York Yankees do. I also think it’s a complete slap in the face to Tony Sparano that they are so interested in other head coaches all while he’s still the head coach. Its shows a complete lack of faith and professionalism on behalf of the entire organization. You’d think they would have been skeptical of giving a college coach a huge contract after the Saban fiasco, but I guess some teams never learn.
Have to say that hearing Andrew Luck will stay at Stanford for his junior season after A) winning the Orange Bowl in dominating fashion, B) knowing his head coach is all but gone for the NFL, and C) knowing he will be the unquestionable #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Draft, is a real head-scratcher. I envy the kid for putting his team/school above his own personal endeavors and thinking perhaps a run at a National Championship is realistic (although, I don’t believe it truly is), but to know that he’s jeopardizing a few things here, most notably his draft stock, is a bit of a concern.
The first thing I think is that the labor problems that have seemed to overshadow much of what is to come this off-season for the NFL was something that might have scared him a bit. Also, perhaps he just didn’t feel that going to the Carolina Panthers was going to put him in a place that was going to give him a chance to win down the road (remember, they don’t even have a coach for next year as of now). That being said, I still don’t see why the kid would choose to stay at Stanford one more year; it just doesn’t really make too much sense. In the end, he is going to give Stanford a chance at a Pac-10 title and, perhaps, a chance at a National Championship (albeit an unlikely chance), yet I truly believe his best bet was to take his chances with going to the NFL this year and being the #1 overall pick taken in the draft and not set himself up for the possibility of not being taken as highly in next year’s draft.
Murph got his up at the same time as mine, so I’ll combine the two. Lucks’ decision is shocking to say the least. Most draft pundits see no flaws in his game and believe he’s the most complete QB coming out of the college football ranks since Peyton Manning. Not only that, but his head coach Jim Harbaugh is set to leave Stanford in pursuit of a head coaching position in the NFL. Despite all this, he still decided to stay because he wants to enjoy the college experience and get his degree (set to graduate spring 2011). As surprising as this is, I have to commend him on this. He didn’t want to go to the NFL and made the choice he felt was right. He also didn’t do this at a pep rally-type setting a la Tim Tebow or hold a press conference like most players; he kept it very minimal. I still think the NFL was the smartest decision, but whatever makes him happy I guess. Hope he doesn’t complain when a rookie wage scale gets implemented in the new CBA agreement and he loses out on millions. This decision has two major impacts on both college football and NFL. First, Stanford just became a top team in college football next season. They should start the season as a top 5 team at worst. If Jim Harbaugh leaves as well, that head coaching position just became a hot job. As far as the NFL, the Carolina Panthers are screwed. They had already said they would take Andrew Luck #1 overall if he was in the draft. Oops. The Panthers will now have to find another way to solve their pressing QB need and will also have to find another player worthy of that #1 pick. As of right now, the only players worth mentioning as the potential #1 overall picks are Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara, or Clemson DE D’Quan Bowers. The Panthers definitely need to get ready for this offseason because it just became significantly tougher with no consensus #1 overall pick in the draft.
After two and a half seasons of being the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Singletary has been fired now that they have been eliminated from playoff contention. He started out hot in San Fran taking over for Mike Nolan after he was fired in the 2008 season. As the interim head coach, he helped the team finish 5-4 and was signed on to be officially be the head coach. In 2009 he helped the 49ers have their first non-losing record since 2002 going 8-8. With a lack of talented teams in the NFC West, the 49ers were the chic pick to win the NFC West but failed to do so which is sad considering that the team who will win the division will be 8-8. A sad end to one of the most respectable and honorable coaches out there, and he took it in stride and was incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I would expect nothing less from Singletary as he’s a high-character guy. Getting him to speak ill or negatively about someone is like getting Tom Brady to throw an INT at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land somewhere as a defensive coordinator real quick as he’s one of the best. With so many teams switching to 3-4 defenses, Singletary will be in high demand. As for San Francisco, they’ve announced that their looking for an experienced GM to find them an experienced head coach stating they’re exclusively looking for experienced candidates. What they really need is a solid QB who can perform consistently and manage the offense all season long. For far too long they’ve used scrubs like Troy Smith, Shaun Hill, Alex Smith, and even Trent Dilfer. Who are they fooling thinking Alex Smith or David Carr are “the answer”? If the 49ers want to turn it around, get a QB people actually have to prepare for and not just wait around for an errant throw. If they were smart, they’d draft someone like Ryan Mallett round 1 or trade for someone like Kyle Orton.
My top ten coaches for this year’s college football season.
1. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Petersen has Boise going for another undefeated season now only if they could bump into the national title game would it top it all off. He has turned this team around especially the underrated defense. This team who plays in the weaker WAC conference can compete with anybody as they did when they beat OU in the Fiesta Bowl a few years back. I doubt they get to play in the national title this year but if they keep it up like this, Boise could have a shot in the near future.
2. Gary Patterson, TCU
Patterson has done a great job at TCU by thriving with speed on defense in the 4-2-5. TCU’s defense has shown they are capable of matching up with almost anyone they play. The question has always been QB play but so far this year Patterson has helped Dalton become a quality quarterback. TCU could very well be playing in the national title thanks to great coaching and schemes by Patterson and his staff.
3. Nick Saban, Alabama
Nick Saban not only wins football games but usually wins the recruiting battle as well. Saban is known for great defenses and this year has been the very same result. Yes he has lost two games but in the South Carolina game, the Gamecocks made two to three tough plays that ended up leading to their victory. It could have easily been a close game if it wasn’t for those great catches by Alshon Jeffery. Besides that, Saban is stocking up with even more blue chip defensive recruits with next year’s class which could lead to a very strong defense for the Crimson Tide to come.
4. Chip Kelly, Oregon
Kelly has this team steam rolling to the national title game out of the Pac 10, which is usually won by USC. Kelly has done a great job of working the zone read and getting his team to buy into his system. Now if he can only get the defense on track then we could be saying Oregon Ducks 2011 national champs.
5. Jim Tressel, Ohio State
Ohio State seems to always make into the top ten. A lot of that has to go to Tressel and the way he prepares his team. Not only does he stick to the run game but he loves big time playmakers on defense. Yes he does have the conservative style of play and likes to play field position but you really can’t complain with the way he has been winning consistently in the Big 10 or 11.
6. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Aggressive gang tackling defenses is what Chizik coaches which has put Auburn at #1 in the nation. He has Auburn playing smart and aggressive defense just as he did when he was coaching at Texas. The offense will hold its own with Cameron Newton at the helm but since Chizik has taken over as head coach this team is primed to be atop the SEC.
7. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Bielema has done a quality job with the Badgers. Not only has he done great on the field but off the field as well. In 2009, 21 of the Badgers made Academic All-Big Ten, the highest in school history. As coaches know when you have smart students and mix in football it only adds to success. The Badgers have gone to four straight bowl games under Bielema and he is getting hungrier every year to do even better than the previous year. As long as Bielema is the captain of this ship they should be in good shape.
8. Jim Harbaugh, Stanford
Harbaugh is a player’s coach. He is friendly, funny, and fun to be around. Not only have I met him in person, but he explained the ins and outs of the Quarterback position to the finest of details. With that said, Harbaugh has one of the best, if not the best, QB in the nation in Andrew Luck. Luck has a QB rating of a 162 and is showing that he is primed for the NFL. Harbaugh and company are going in the right direction now they just need to keep it going.
9. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Mullen is a fiery coach. He coaches games and practice with passion. He is trying to take the Bulldogs to a whole new level. This year they beat the Florida Gators in the swamp, which to me is a great way in making that step to the next level. He is a quarterbacks coach however, and knows how to get the best out of them. He has coached the likes of Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Josh Harris, and Tim Tebow. Now if he can get Tyler Russell to do the same as he has with others they should be looking at going to bowl games more often than not.
10. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
The Spartan football program is starting to look like the Spartan basketball program. Well not quite yet but if they can keep winning consistently they could very well be. Dantonio is a defensive minded coach who gets the best out of his players. Take for example current middle linebacker Greg Jones who has risen to stardom with his great play. While he was coaching at Ohio State he did the very same thing by making the 2003 team the number one defense in the country and having thirteen players go pro. If Dantonio can win a few more big games the Spartans could be fighting for the top spot in their conference.