If you glance over the history of the University of San Diego football, which started in 1956 but took most of the 1960s off, you see mediocre-looking records almost on a yearly basis. There’s just nothing ever consistent, such as a 9-1 showing in 1981 followed by a 4-6 season. Two years later, the team was 1-8-1. The 1989-92 years offered seven wins every season and there was a fine 8-3 showing in 1997. But that was ensued with a 2-8 record in 1998 and so much for momentum.
Perhaps the guy that changed the culture came aboard in 2004. Jim Harbaugh. This week, current head coach Dale Lindsey paid tribute to Harbaugh and Ron Caragher, who succeeded Harbaugh and the man who Lindsey took the reigns from. When Harbaugh took the job, according to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, he told his athletic director Ky Snyder “give me 50 scholarships” and the Toreros would beat Notre Dame. That didn’t happen, of course, but the message was there: Harbaugh, noting the location, figured he could do something with the program.
The Union-Tribune story went on to take Snyder’s view of the program:
It was during the spring of 2004, just a few practices into Jim Harbaugh’s first season as USD’s coach. Snyder would view practice and marvel at the precision, the demands, the purpose.“You watched the speed and the intensity and how he went about things, you knew he was going to be a pretty good coach,” Snyder said. “… You knew he’s got a plan strategically on what he’s trying to accomplish and how to do that.” Easy to say now? Sure. But it’s indisputable that Harbaugh was on the fast track right from the start.
Harbaugh was in San Diego from 2004-06 and compiled a 29-6 record, including back-to-back 11-1 seasons in 2005 and 2006. San Diego was crowed “Mid-Major National Champions,” whatever that means, in two of those years. What Harbaugh brought to USD was a prolific offense and a consistency in winning. Caragher took it from there and now Lindsey has brought it to an ever higher level winning first round FCS games in the last two years.