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Jim Harbaugh Effect: College Coaches Replicating His Formula

Jim Harbaugh had one huge philosophical shift when he arrived at Stanford. Be tough. Be physical. Play hard-nosed. Win football games. He's taken that formula with him to the NFL, where he's led the San Francisco 49ers to endless excellence through one season and two games into the second.

Jack Blanchat at Rule of Tree elaborates.

Come build a tradition, don't rent one somewhere else. The decision you're making is for 40 years, not four. This school has the same commitment to excellence in academics and athletics. Franklin even occasionally uses the #RevengeOfTheNerds phrase that is so often affixed to Stanford athletes' tweets.

Just like in sales, the coaches initially have to be patient. It doesn't matter if you don't manage to get all the recruits that you want right away. Players will turn you down, but when their names crawl across the ESPN bottom line, your school will be close to their name. Eventually, enough recruits see "Stanford" on other kids' lists and they wonder what exactly they're selling out in California. Then your job becomes easier. Then your school will be right next to players' names on the ESPN crawl.

There isn't really anything revolutionary about the way Harbaugh approached the game that was different from the way many coaches have approached it before him. But in a world where schemes are growing more complex and playbooks get larger and larger, Harbaugh's approach of simplicity seems to be paying off huge dividends, particularly in the collegiate ranks. Two of his disciples at Stanford seem to be doing their best to replicate that approach.

Stanford's replacement for Harbuagh in David Shaw looked pretty comfortable in beating USC without Andrew Luck. James Franklin does similar things at Vandy, and Taggart beating Kentucky as the coach of Western Kentucky is pretty impressive too. Play tough, be great on the field and in the classroom, and learn to be excellent regardless. Sounds like a fundamentally strong strategy.

Talk about the Harbaugh effect with Stanford fans by heading on over to Rule of Tree.