Walsh shared time, offensive philosophy with Harbaugh
STANFORD, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh had his entire life to learn from his father, longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh. He had a college career to learn from Michigan legend Bo Schembechler.
But Harbaugh, whom Stanford hired as head coach last December, treasures the seven months he had in the same building with Bill Walsh, the former Stanford and San Francisco 49er head coach who died early Monday at age 75.
Walsh had an office in the Stanford athletic department, and came in as recently as early this month, according to Harbaugh.
"You never knew when he would be in his office," Harbaugh said last week. "I found myself walking down there to see if he was there. There are days when he'll come in and walk down and watch film, or sit for an hour-and-a-half and talk offensive philosophy and start drawing plays on paper, and I think, 'Oh my God, I'm going to laminate this!'"
In fact, Harbaugh went out and purchased a hand-held tape recorder to save Walsh's talks for posterity.
"He's a wealth of knowledge of Stanford history, of Stanford winning, and mainly just football," Harbaugh said. "Everything he says, you just hang on every word."
Walsh may have been a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who revolutionized the game with his brand of the West Coast offense. He may have coached the 49ers to three Super Bowl championships. But he never wore a cloak of majesty.
"He's so genuine to be around, such a good sense of humor, personality, self-deprecating," Harbaugh said. "One day he talked for an hour. You're taking notes, you're picking up the drawings. Afterward, he said, 'Did I talk too long?'"
Harbaugh had a quick reply: "'God, no. Are you kidding?'
"They should erect a statue to him here," Harbaugh said. "His presence, how he's touched the game, and so many people, the way Bo does."Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at email@example.com.
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BILL WALSH: 1931-2007
NAME: William Ernest Walsh.
BORN: Nov. 30, 1931; DIED: July 30, 2007
BIRTHPLACE: Los Angeles.
COACH: Three Super Bowl titles with San Francisco (1982, 1985, 1989); 6 NFC West division titles; 102-63-1 overall in 10 NFL seasons; 17-7 at Stanford from 1977-78, then 17-17-1 there from 1992-94. Also assistant coach with Oakland (1966), Cincinnati (1968-75) and San Diego (1976). Mentored many NFL coaches and assistants.
FAMILY: Wife, Geri; two children, Craig and Elizabeth. Son Steve, died of leukemia at age 46 in 2002.
HONORS: NFL coach of the year 1981; NFC coach of the year 1984; NFL 1980's All-Decade team. Named 49ers general manager in 1982 and president in 1985, then took both positions again from 1999-2001. Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, as well as the Bay Area Hall of Fame and Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.
News• Field to be renamed after Walsh
• Mourners pay tribute to pioneering coach
• 49ers to honor Walsh with throwbacks in opener
• Former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh dies
Remembering Walsh• Kreidler: A treasure in Bay Area
• Maisel: Two memorable encounters
• Green: Masters talent evaluator
• Maisel: Harbaugh treasures time spent with Walsh
• What they're staying
• Photo Gallery | Timeline
• Hashmarks: 'The consummate teacher'
Video Commentary• Walsh passes away at 75
• ESPN's Steve Young
• Walsh interviews
• ESPN's Sean Salisbury
• Sportswriter Terrence Moore
Audio Commentary• Dwight Clark
• Randy Cross
• Mike Holmgren
• Don Shula
• Mike Ditka and Steve Young
• Former Walsh assistant Denny Green