Time to take a closer look at what has been happening under the Harbaugh regime and the impact Jim and his hard-working staff have had in turning around the miserable state of affairs we endured under previous coaching regimes. We often focus on the improvements already made in the realm of recruiting, but it is high time we examined just how much of a turnaround has been occurring down on the field. The home field advantage has been regained. After opening 1-11 in the new stadium, Stanford has won nine of its last 10 in "The House That John Built". Mightily impressive.
The competitive situation for Stanford Football has been addressed and, to some extent, solved. There is little talk of a "major talent gap" anymore, particularly on offense. No more talk about how no more than one or two Cardinal players would make the two-deep on an upper-tier Pac-10 squad. Depth certainly remains an issue, but we are getting there, and not "slowly, but surely", but rather quickly and dramatically. We are perhaps a couple of nasty DTs, a ball-hawking DB, and a top-shelf speed-back away from matching up favorably with most of the conference. Remarkable stuff, really.
If one looks at the trends of our recent record with key conference rivals, it quickly becomes apparent how far the Cardinal has come in less than three years under Harbaugh. We have clearly emerged from the "Dark Age of Cardinal".
Consider if you will.....
We were not beating or even competing with USC (0-5 from 2002-06 while being outscored 217-87)...then we beat USC in 2007 in the "Biggest Upset Ever". Nice.
We were not beating or even competing with California (0-5 from 2002-06 while being outscored 152-49)...we beat Cal in 2007 and fans stormed the field! Nice.
We were not beating or even competing with Oregon State (0-2 from 2006-2007 while being outscored 53-13 )... we held on to beat Oregon State in 2008. Nice. (Yes, they won this year, but we fought back hard in the second half, which generally didn't happen under previous regimes)
We were occasionally competing with, but not beating UCLA (0-5 from 2004-08 while being outscored 126-44)...we beat UCLA handily in 2009. Nice.
We were not beating or even competing with ASU (0-3 while being outscored 140-23 from 2006-08)...we beat ASU handily in 2009. Nice.
Next up are the foulest of the fowl, the Dirty Ducks of Oregon, the "Mean Green from Eugene". We are a frustrating 0-7 since 2001's amazing "Miracle at Autzen", having been outscored 274 to 116 and holding the Webfoots to under 35 points just once! They might have had an issue with our costing them a shot at a national championship in '01. Ya think? )
Notre Dame has been getting the "candy end" of the lollypop for far too long. The irritating Irish have outscored the Cardinal 229-105 during a seven-game throttling streak. Some of the games have been close, but the result has always been the same. Personally, I have never gotten over having to watch the South Bendian Bead-Stringers embarrass us 57-7 in Willingham's face-rubbing return to Stanford Stadium in 2003. If I am a Stanford senior football player, I look at this year, and the final regular-season game as my last chance to help avenge that affront to the very "Spirit of Stanford" and introduce Charlie & Company to the "fuzzy end" of the lollypop... and I don't mean "orally".
So just to ram the point home one more time - whom do we owe a thorough thrashing?: We always "owe" USC and Cal. That has been going on forever. No, friends, I would argue that we need finally to turn things around against the only two schools that, without exception, have owned us since Tyrone "The Sheriff of" Willingham left us back in 2001: The University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame (aka "Our Lady of the Azz-Whoopin' ").
Hard to fathom that we are an "unfeated" 0-14 against these pretenders since the Seattle Bowl season! Can't believe we are 0-7 against each of these preening pop-offs since that time, but the facts are the facts. That and crappy crowd support are about the only things those seven-consecutive losing seasons each have had in common. Let me be blunt (or even Blount?)... It has to stop and it has to stop right freakin' now!
What if the tables had been reversed ? What if "Buddy Ball" had worked and Stanford had run the table on those two annoyingly well-marketed programs (obviously a fantasy scenario given our various challenges in the past seven years)? In all likelihood, Stanford would have gone to FIVE bowl games during that stretch and Harbaugh probably wouldn't even be our coach.
The 2009 regular season will end with an opportunity to expel some more demons - the diabolical Ducks and the lewd and lascivious Leprechauns! We have already met the "Devils" and sent then back down below from whence they came. We now need to exorcise the remaining two demons that have "pigskin-possessed" our proud program!
I say we get walk-on DE Dan Priestly to sprinkle some "Holy Lagunita Water" on the field and we can all chant in unison "The Power of the Cardinal COMPELS You! "The Power of the Cardinal COMPELS You!"
If not, I fear my head may spin around 360° and I'll have to disgorge some split pea soup straight into the Directors' Cup!
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