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January 4, 2011

College Football Report - Jim Harbaugh Has Some Class:

For once the most talked about man in sports isn’t someone in trouble. He isn’t a dog fighter. He didn’t shoot himself in a club. He didn’t send foul text messages to women young enough to be his daughter. For once the man has a little class.

That man is of course Jim Harbaugh. Anyone who has a pulse or has even brushed over ESPN the last week while channel surfing knows who he is. Currently, he’s Stanford’s head coach. A coach who turned the program around from a 1-11 season, to a BCS Orange Bowl victory and 12-1 season. He’s also the most wanted man in the country.

The NFL wants him. Other top colleges want him. And Stanford more than ever, wants him to stay. So as expected, the gut-wrenching question by an intrepid journalist was asked last night: Is this your last game at Stanford?

Harbaugh, who batted away questions thrown at him throughout the night like a Chinese ping-pong champion, finally gave a striking serve to end it all.

“Oh please. Give me a break,” he said regarding if it was his last game at Stanford.” “You know, have some respect for the game. It’s about the performance tonight of these players, and I love them. Let’s talk about them.”

The reporter, most likely sat back down in his chair, tail between his legs, stun faced and all. The Harbaugh stare is nothing to mess with.

For once, though, a coach didn’t dance around the question. He didn’t give an answer pre-written by a PR pencil-neck. He gave it to the reporter straight up. Even in my profession I have to respect that. I guess I have a little respect in me though, too. But I also have a little common sense in me, knowing a guy like Harbaugh isn’t going to abandon his team on the same night of the programs biggest win in decades. This isn’t Brian Kelly. This isn’t Lane Kiffin. He’s not Rich Rodriguez. There’s a reason everybody wants him to teach and lead their young men.

ESPN sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya was even thrown a stiff arm by Harbaugh, who once again wanted to reiterate that the game was about the players, as he left Tafoya with Stanford linebacker Shane Skov (below).

Was he presumably ignoring Tafoya, and the producer yelling in Tafoya’s ear to ask Harbaugh about his future? You bet he was, but he also didn’t want to take the spotlight away from the players.

It wasn’t over for Harbaugh yet, though. ESPN’s Rece Davis took the podium with Harbaugh and a few select players’ just moments later. After the overjoyed coach was done tossing oranges to players, Davis threw a pie into the face of Harbaugh, asking him about his future.

“Please respect the game of football and our team’s accomplishment tonight,” he said. And then, like a kid in a candy store, just like he was before, he was gone.

Jim isn’t done with the questions, though. He’ll be answering and stoning questions until he accepts a new position or decides to stay at Stanford. A source close to the situation insists it won’t be Michigan, Harbaugh’s alma matter. It could be the 49’ers, could be the Bronco’s, and it could be the Dolphins. But then again, it could be Stanford. My guess is he’s not going to let us know until the end.

The fact of the matter is, Harbaugh is smart. He knew there were going to be numerous questions regarding his future and he knew reporters would try for the “scene quote,” the question that pisses Harbaugh off so much he becomes a Sportscenter highlight.

He wasn’t going to give reporters that, though. He was going to make them feel small, which he should, and then answer the question with some class by asking for a little respect. Respect, something that’s rare these days. In both coaching and reporting.

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