Harbaugh Gone! What About Stanford's Recruiting Class? Luck Happy Now?

Michael TierneyAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2011

The hottest new NFL Head Coach (Miami or SFO?) in the NFL.
The hottest new NFL Head Coach (Miami or SFO?) in the NFL.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh signed a five-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers!

How will this affect Stanford's 2011 recruiting class?

How many assistant coaches will he take with him?

Will Andrew Luck regret staying at Stanford and losing the possible first round, number one overall pick in the NFL draft?

Losing head coach Jim Harbaugh, eight starters on offense, seven starters on defense, and possibly several assistant coaches will definitely hurt Stanford’s future performance. Even with Andrew Luck staying (foregoing possibly $60M this year and getting a salary cap next year). The big question is: Will losing all of these players and coaches affect recruiting, especially the loss of Coach Harbaugh? And will USC, Oregon, and Cal benefit by gaining players who were previously Stanford's commits.

As many as eight committed four-star players and 21 other top rated prospects could be rethinking their college of choice. Seven of the committed four-star players are not from the bay area. With Coach Harbaugh’s departure, a slew of decommitments could follow.

Those decommitments may include OL Brendon Austin, DE Charlie Hopkins, WR Ty Montgomery, LB Anthony Sarao, LB James Vaughters, RB Remound Wright, and RB Kelsey Young.

Important prospects that may now be lost to other Pac-12 schools include OL Troy Niklas, ATH Harvey Langi, DT Todd Peat Jr., DT Christian Heyward, DE Brennan Scarlett and DT Viliami Moala since they are all from the West Coast.

Stanford was ranked 14th nationally in total offense this year. The Cardinal will lose up to eight starters on offense and each of these starters received All-Pac-10 honors. All eight of these starters' departure will create an offensive void. But the damage is not limited to the starters. Backup quarterback Alex Loukas and All-Pac-10 mentioned tight end Konrad Reuland also graduate.

With three WRs, two TEs, and half the O-Line gone, Stanford’s offense could possibly fall to a fifty-something place nationally even less than average in the Pac-12 for 2011. Offensive and defensive players lost after this season are listed in the tables below.

Offensive Players Lost
 Pos  Player  Role
FB Owen Maricic Starter All-Pac-10 First Team
WR Doug Baldwin Starter All-Pac-10 Second Team
WR Ryan Whalen Starter All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
OT Derek Hall Starter All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
OG Andrew Phillips Starter All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
C Chase Beeler Starter All-Pac-10 First Team
WR Chris Owusu* Backup none
QB Alex Loukas Backup none
TE Coby Fleener* Starter All-Pac-10 Second Team
WR Corey Gatewood Backup none
TE Konrad Reuland Backup All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
OT J. McGillicuddy Backup none

* Possible Early Departure to the NFL

Defensive Players Lost
 Pos  Player Role  Honors 
DE Brian Bulcke Starter none
NT Sione Fua Starter All-Pac-10 Second Team
LB Owen Marecic Starter All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
CB Richard Sherman Starter All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
S Delano Howell* Starter All-Pac-10 Second Team
PR Doug Baldwin Starter none
LB/ST Chike Amajoyi Starter All-Pac-10 First Team
K Nate Whitaker Starter All-Pac-10 First Team
S Austin Yancy Backup none
S Taylor Skaufel Backup none

* Possible Early Departure to the NFL

Considering the huge void Stanford will endure, the games at USC, at Oregon State and at Arizona are probable losses. Other probably losses include Oregon, California and even Notre Dame at home. The Washington and UCLA games could go either way. Stanford may finish 5-7 in 2011 (3-6 in the Pac-12), and go from winning the Orange Bowl to not even qualifying for a bowl the following season.

It will take the committed players and recruits about 30 minutes to figure this out now that Coach Harbaugh announced his decision to leave for the NFL. The decommitments will start subsequently since top recruits are all about their head coach getting them to the NFL, and not the quality education that Stanford offers.