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Jim Harbaugh saved Stanford once; he could do it again.

A controversial opinion this week on Charlie’s Cardinal Corner...

Stanford v Notre Dame

Stanford has lost three games in a row, a first for David Shaw. Even worse, all three games were lost in embarrassing fashion.

Against Oregon, the Cardinal never found the end zone. Overall, Stanford’s offense has only scored five times through four games, not exactly impressive for a team hoping to depend on its offense. After an initial promising drive for Stanford against the Ducks, the Cardinal gained only 80 yards on their next seven possessions.

A bad offense is not the main concern however. It’s the penalties that the offense committed. They were guilty of only six penalties for 45 yards, but the timing of them effectively killed three separate drives. When Oregon ran into the Stanford punter, the drive would have been extended if not for a Stanford holding penalty that offset it. Early in the second quarter, an illegal blocking penalty put Stanford at 1st and 25. Then in the third quarter, back-to-back five yard penalties put Stanford at 1st and 20. When KJ Costello completed a 15 yard pass on first down, a holding penalty brought the ball back.

Penalties were one of the main factors why Stanford lost this game, which is not normal for Stanford football. Stanford has always been a disciplined program. Last year, they averaged 40.3 penalty yards per game. This year, they’re averaging 57.8 so far.

David Shaw has slowly been losing his grip on the team for some time. They’ve lost their identity of power football, sustained more injuries than ever, and has been losing the time of possession battles, mainly because the offense has failed to extend drives.

This is not the football team that Jim Harbaugh left David Shaw.

That football team scared opponents on the line. They could tell you where they’d run the football and it wouldn’t matter. They could suffer an injury or graduate a player, and the next man up would be ready. Stanford was a force to be reckoned with.

I have a solution to get back to power football and to get back to national recognition: Bring back Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh hasn’t worked at Michigan and could easily be on his way out. This week, they lost to Wisconsin 35-14. Their offense looked asleep and defense helpless. Despite two weeks to prepare, Harbaugh and his coaching staff were never prepared. Now, he is under a microscope at Michigan and could be gone after this year, or even sooner.

Harbaugh is 0-7 as an underdog at Michigan and is yet to beat Ohio State. In his fifth year, there are no more excuses for the former Stanford coach. He has his recruiting classes and his quarterback. UM might be ready to move on, and Stanford should be ready to capitalize.

Stanford’s biggest need right now is a spark. Harbaugh brings that with him. Stanford went 1-11 before Harbaugh arrived. Three years later, the team went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. He made the NFC Championship three straight times in his first three years with the 49ers. Before Harbaugh arrived to Michigan, the Wolverines were 5-7. In his first year, Michigan went 10-3.

Plus, Harbaugh brings headlines to a Stanford program and a conference that so desperately needs some. If Michigan moves on from Harbaugh, I’m confident that a PAC-12 team will chase him hard. USC could replace their coach; Harbaugh, who tormented them for years, could be a potential answer. As a Stanford fan, I’d hate to see Harbaugh coaching against us every year.

What I would like to see, however, is Urban Meyer on the USC sideline, and Jim Harbaugh on ours.

Boy, that’d put a smile on my face and probably everyone else in the PAC-12.