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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

October 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Jim Harbaugh and his bedside manner

Much of the talk this week in the NFL is of the dustup after Sunday’s Niner-Lions game, when first-year San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Detroit coach Jim Schwartz had a little contretemps. Harbaugh, whose team won a close game, appeared overly exuberant when meeting Schwartz and clapped him hard on the back, and Schwartz referred to hearing an “obscenity” during the exchange.

Harbaugh is clearly a different dude, along with appearing to be a very good football coach. He put up a two-point conversion on USC and Pete Carroll a couple of years ago in the infamous “What’s your deal?” game, and the Sunday exchange with Schwartz called to mind the aftermath of last year’s post-game scene following Stanford’s 41-0 shutout of Washington at Husky Stadium. Here’s what I wrote the next day:

All of it made for a buoyant Harbaugh in a holding area between the Stanford locker room and the media awaiting the Cardinal.

“Dominating!” Harbaugh hooted at his players. “We kicked their ass every which way! One hell of a job on both sides of the line! Dominant, dominant!”

Then Harbaugh referenced Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and the UW head coach’s defensive coordinator, Nick Holt, and said, “What are you guys, 5-1, 6-1 against that group (in his four-year tenure)? That’s the highest-paid coaching staff around!”

I took some mild grief from a couple of readers for writing that, because it was heard in a press waiting area, separated from Stanford’s dressing quarters by a curtain at Edmundson Pavilion. But it wasn’t a closed locker room, and I certainly wasn’t pressing my ear up to a door to try to hear what was said. Harbaugh bellowed it out for all to hear — and I’m convinced he was just fine with anybody hearing, press or otherwise.

No doubt those words weren’t received very well by Sarkisian or Holt, but whether that plays into Saturday’s rematch at Stanford is hard to say. Harbaugh is gone now, so they can only get back at his ghost. But they’d surely like to perform better than last year for other reasons.

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