STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford picked a familiar face in Walt
Harris to resurrect its beleaguered football program.
Harris was hired as the Cardinal's new football coach Sunday,
accepting the job less than three weeks before he leads Pittsburgh
in the Fiesta Bowl against Utah.
Athletic director Ted Leland found the offensive-minded leader
he sought to replace Buddy Teevens -- and Leland knew plenty about
Harris because he also hired him as coach at Pacific in 1989.
Harris accepted the job Sunday, and the school planned an
afternoon news conference Monday to introduce him.
The 58-year-old Harris met with his team Sunday and is expected
to coach the Panthers (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) in their bowl game before
assuming his new job.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, former Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt, who played at Pitt, and former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie are candidates to replace Harris, ESPN.com has learned.
Harris interviewed on campus Friday, two days after Southern California offensive coordinator Norm Chow visited to interview.
Leland offered Harris the job Saturday, then met with university
president John Hennessey and provost John Etchemendy as a formality
in the hiring process.
"He interviewed very well and presented himself very well,"
Stanford linebacker Jon Alston said in a phone interview Sunday.
"In my impression, he's done some really impressive things, and
hopefully he can continue them at Stanford. I thought he was a
coach's coach. The things he was able to accomplish at Pittsburgh
speak for themselves."
Alston has watched Pitt from afar and noticed how Harris turned
around the program. Alston believes Leland worked quickly to get a
coach hired before the height of the recruiting season.
"I think it worked fine," Alston said of the timing.
Leland said he wouldn't spend a fortune on his football coach.
Harris met last week with Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long,
but the school didn't offer him an extension for more than the
close to $600,000 he was earning. Pitt sophomore quarterback Tyler
Palko campaigned for the school to keep him.
"I have accepted Walt Harris' resignation from the University
of Pittsburgh so that he can accept the same position at Stanford
University," Long said in a statement Sunday. "During his eight
years at Pittsburgh, Coach Harris has done an exceptional job
revitalizing our program both athletically and academically. We are
grateful for those efforts and wish him the very best in his new
position at Stanford."
Leland searched for a coach with a strong offensive background
after Stanford struggled to score during Teevens' tenure. The
Cardinal went 4-7 the past two seasons, losing their last five
games this year. They were 0-13 down the stretch the past three
seasons leading to Teevens' firing last month.
Harris, Pitt's eighth-year coach, has plenty of connections to
the Bay Area. He grew up in South San Francisco and attended
college at Pacific in Stockton, where he also began his college
coaching career directing the secondary.
He coached the linebackers at California from 1974-77 and made
stops at Air Force, Michigan State, Illinois and Tennessee before
taking over at Pacific for three seasons. The school eventually
dropped the program.
Harris was Ohio State's quarterbacks coach in 1995-96 before
going to Pitt.
Pitt is coming off three straight seasons with eight or more
Harris presided over a nice turnaround at Pitt -- which was 12-32
under Johnny Majors from 1993-96 before he arrived. Harris and the
Pitt administration have been at odds all season, especially after
his agent called at midseason for the school to give him an
extension or let him seek a new job.
Chow has directed the top-ranked Trojans' offense for four
The 58-year-old Chow hasn't been a head coach since 1970-72 at
Waialua High in Hawaii. Chow, who is of Chinese descent, has talked
about wanting to be the first Asian-American to be head coach at a
"It was a win-win situation for the university," Alston said.
"I think what it came down to was head coaching experience."
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.