Former assistant: Harbaugh has gift for hiring coaches

Let the hiring begin.

Stanford will name offensive coordinator David Shaw its new head coach later today, a move that figures to trigger a domino effect.

With Shaw’s hiring, it’s expected that Cardinal defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and associate head coach Greg Roman, candidates to get the Stanford head-coaching job, will now join Jim Harbaugh’s staff in San Francisco. Fangio is expected to be the defensive coordinator with Roman serving as the offensive coordinator.

Roman has 13 years of NFL experience as an assistant, but has never been an offensive coordinator in the league. Fangio has 11 years of NFL experience as a defensive coordinator, but his units in Carolina, Indianapolis and Houston ranked higher than 15th in the league on just two occasions.

Given the success the pair had with Harbaugh at Stanford, it’s doubtful many will question the potential hires. If skeptics do exist, however, one of Harbaugh’s former assistants, Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb, believes those concerns are unfounded.

In discussing Harbaugh’s greatest assets this week, Lamb said his ability to assemble an A-list coaching staff ranked near the top of the list. Lamb, who spent two years (2005-06) with Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, went so far as to say Harbaugh’s ability to identify great coaches – coupled with own coaching ability – would make him a success in the NBA or major leagues.

Hyperbole? Perhaps. But Lamb obviously feels strongly about Harbaugh’s gift for surrounding himself with the right coaches.

“One thing about Jim is that he’s humble enough to get the very best staff that he can find,” Lamb said. “And he had that at San Diego … I may have been one of the most experienced guys in (the Pioneer League) at that time, but I was one of the least experienced on our San Diego staff.”

Indeed, Harbaugh’s staff at USD included future stars (Shaw) and distinguished veterans such as defensive coordinator Dave Adolph, who spent 21 years in the NFL (14 as a defensive coordinator). Harbaugh lured Adolph out of retirement.

In his current search, Harbaugh is reportedly attempting to bring another accomplished veteran, former University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, aboard as a linebackers coach. According to the Sacramento Bee, Harbaugh has reached out to Leavitt, 54, who was fired last year after he allegedly struck a player in the locker room during halftime of a game against Louisville in 2009. On Tuesday, Leavitt received a $2.75 million settlement after filing a wrongful-termination suit against USF.

Leavitt, who was the only coach in the program’s 13-year history prior to his dismissal, was 94-57 at USF, which was briefly ranked No. 2 in the nation during the 2007 season.

USF, which began as a Division I-AA program under Leavitt, joined the Big East in 2005 and went to bowl games in each of his last five years.

The potential hiring of Leavitt as a position coach would bolster Harbaugh’s reputation for surrounding himself with a stellar staff.

Lamb, by the way, appears to be another solid hire from Harbaugh’s past.

He led Southern Utah, a Division I-AA program on an 18-game losing streak prior to his arrival in 2008, to a 6-5 record this past season.

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