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Jim Harbaugh's assistants at Stanford are doing big things

While he was the head coach at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh surrounded himself with assistants who had bright futures, including his eventual successor, David Shaw (right). Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

As part of his introductory news conference on Thursday, new Oregon coach Willie Taggart made a point to acknowledge how important Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been to his life and career.

"Ever since I met Jim Harbaugh my life has gone nowhere but up," Taggart said.

Harbaugh was still an NFL quarterback when he recruited Taggart to play for his dad, Jack Harbaugh, at Western Kentucky and later hired him to join his staff at Stanford prior to the 2007 season.

"That’s probably really one of the defining moments of my coaching career, when I got out there and was a part of that program and understood how they did things -- especially academically was really impressive," Taggart said.

The Cardinal went 4-8 in that first season, but Taggart found himself surrounded by several exceptional football minds. Four of the nine assistant coaches on that staff have gone on to become Power 5 head coaches, and three others are Power 5 coordinators.

It wasn't just that season, either.

Of the 16 assistants Harbaugh had in his four years at Stanford, six have gone on to become FBS head coaches and three others have been coordinators in the NFL. That doesn’t include recently-fired Florida International coach Ron Turner, who Harbaugh hired before he quit two weeks later to take a job with the Indianapolis Colts.

Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, whose time on the Stanford staff overlapped with Taggart from 2007-09, said it went unsaid, but there was an understanding among those Stanford coaches that it was a special group.

"You knew those guys around you were all going to progress in the profession at a good pace and go on to great things," he said. "It’s still fun to see."

After three years on Harbaugh’s Stanford staff, Durkin left for Florida only to reunite with him as the defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2015, which led to his hiring at Maryland.

"If there is a head-coaching position or something elsewhere, [Harbaugh] is always supportive," Durkin said. "He’s a great guy to work for and a great guy to learn from. He understands when a guy has an opportunity to do something good for him and his family -- he gets it and he supports it."

Here’s a look at Harbaugh’s assistant coaches at Stanford from 2007-2010 and how their careers have progressed since:

HEAD COACHES

David Shaw

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2010. Shaw was with Harbaugh at the University of San Diego in 2006 and served as his offensive coordinator for four seasons on the Farm.

Since: When Harbaugh left for the 49ers, Shaw was named the head coach at Stanford and has since gone 63-17 with three Pac-12 titles in six years.

D.J. Durkin

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2009. Durkin was the special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach.

Since: Durkin left to become an assistant at Florida for five seasons, but reunited with Harbaugh at Michigan in 2015 before being named the head coach at Maryland. The Terps went from 3-9 to 6-6 in Durkin’s first year.

Derek Mason

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2010. Mason coached the secondary in Harbaugh’s final season.

Since: Shaw elevated him to defensive coordinator in 2011 and after three seasons in that role, he was named the head coach at Vanderbilt. He is 13-23, but the Commodores went 6-6 this year to qualify for a bowl.

Willie Taggart

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2009. Taggart was Stanford’s running backs coach.

Since: He left to become the head coach at Western Kentucky, and after three seasons at his alma mater was named the head coach at South Florida. Oregon's new coach is 40-45 as a head coach, but oversaw turnarounds at both programs he led.

Brian Polian

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2010. Polian replaced Durkin as the Cardinal’s special teams coordinator.

Since: He spent one more year on Shaw’s staff and a season at Texas A&M before being named Nevada’s head coach prior to the 2013 season. Nevada went 23-27 in four years before recently parting ways with Polian.

Scott Shafer

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007. Shafer was Harbaugh's first defensive coordinator.

Since: He left after one season to become the defensive coordinator at Michigan, where he spent another season before landing at Syracuse. After four years as the defensive coordinator, he was named head coach, but was fired after compiling a 14-23 record in three seasons. He was Durkin’s defensive coordinator at Maryland in 2015 before stepping down in April.

NFL COORDINATORS

Vic Fangio

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2010. He was the defensive coordinator for one season

Since: Fangio went with Harbaugh to the 49ers, where he remained his defensive coordinator for his four seasons in San Francisco. When Harbaugh was hired at Michigan, Fangio hired as defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears.

Pep Hamilton

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2010. When Taggart left for WKU, Shaw switched from wide receivers to running backs (in addition to being the offensive coordinator) and Hamilton was hired as the receivers coach.

Since: He was Shaw’s offensive coordinator for two years before leaving to become the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator. He was fired by the Colts in 2015 and is now the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator.

Greg Roman

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2009-2010. He coached tight ends and offensive tackles.

Since: Roman served as Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator with the 49ers for four seasons. He was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator in 2015 and was fired early this season.

COLLEGE COORDINATORS

Lance Anderson

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2010. A defensive assistant on Harbaugh’s staff for two years at San Diego and four years at Stanford.

Since: Remained at Stanford on Shaw’s staff and replaced Mason as defensive coordinator in 2014.

Andy Buh

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2009. Started as the linebackers coach and was the co-defensive coordinator for his final two seasons.

Since: Had stops at Nevada (defensive coordinator), Wisconsin (linebackers coach), Cal (defensive coordinator) and Kentucky (outside linebackers coach) before Durkin hired him to replace Shafer as the defensive coordinator at Maryland prior to the 2016 season.

Tim Drevno

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2010. Drevno was at San Diego before Harbaugh arrived and has been with him almost ever since. He was an offensive assistant at Stanford.

Since: He spent three years on the 49ers' staff and one year at USC before Harbaugh hired him to be Michigan’s offensive coordinator in 2015.

OTHERS

Chris Dalman

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2008. Coached the offensive line for two years before he decided to leave high-level coaching.

Since: He is an assistant principal and dean of students at Palma High, in Salinas, California. He also serves as an assistant coach on the football team and his son, Drew, is an offensive line prospect who committed to Stanford over an offer from Michigan.

Clayton White

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2007-2009. Served as the defensive backs coach.

Since: Left with Taggart for one year at Western Kentucky and has spent the past four seasons as an assistant at NC State.

Ron Lynn

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2008-2009. Hired as the co-defensive coordinator after Shafer left for Michigan.

Since: Became the director of player development at Stanford in 2010 and remained in that role until he retired two years ago.

Randy Hart

Stanford assistant under Harbaugh: 2010. His one season on Harbaugh’s staff was one of his 46 seasons as a college assistant coach.

Since: He remained on at Stanford as the defensive line coach through the 2015 season and retired after the Cardinal's win in the Rose Bowl.