Ray Ratto

Ratto: Harbaugh's impending departure simply physics


Ratto: Harbaugh's impending departure simply physics


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. -- In about a week, this will be one of Stanford footballs darkest days, for one and only one reason.Starting over stinks. Especially when the finish is this good.In about a week, Jim Harbaugh will have a new job that pays twice asmuch as Stanford has ever offered any coach, and where he goes dependsentirely upon whom you ask at any given time. Michigan? Carolina? BestSupporting Actor? Secretary of the Interior? He's been kissed by God,and other than the agony of choice, his world is as good as it willever be.Shortly thereafter, Andrew Luck will declare for the NFL Draft, becausefrankly, he has to. While his future and Harbaughs are not necessarilylinked in and of themselves, Luck cannot be helped by starting overwith a new coach who will not have Harbaughs sense of simpatico, andstarting over means less fun and lots less money.But finally, this is the Stanford Football Experience in a nutshell --brief flares of pyrotechnic glory behind a charismatic and technicallyfluent coach who doesnt hit himself in the face with a wrench everytime he gets a call from Admissions, interspersed with long stretchesof ennui, frustrations and fleeting dreams of the Sun Bowl.Now you shouldnt start getting antsy yet. You have two more days tolove the Stanford football ideal as interpreted by J.J. Harbaugh of allpeople. He did everything the school could want except fill thebuilding, and that is entirely the fault of Stanfords traditionalnotion of come-see-but-dont-stay marketing.But this was the best Harbaugh could do, and the best Stanford willever do. A big-money bowl game and a single-digit ranking against anational power, a quarterback who in two years made people think interms of Plunkett and Elway and Plunkett and Brodie and Albert inthree, or sometimes four.In all, more than anyone in their right mind could ever have thought possible, and absolutely worth a round for the house.But like we said, in a week the glass slipper becomes an iron bootagain and the carriage a push cart. It has to. There is no continuum inthe Harbaugh line, no second Harbaugh just waiting to be found. He wasan exceptional moment in this football programs history, and he stayedone year longer than anyone had a right to think he would, be itthrough success or failure.After Toby Gerhart, his name was job-hot, but he hit on 17 and caught afour. He knew Luck was sensational, and he gambled that there would bea better job than the ones being floated a year ago. He was right, andnow he is a 5-6 million man with a ticket to a program that hasnt hadan empty seat in a million skillion years. Or a pro job with theconcomitant glories that result with victory.Either way, he paid Stanford back in full and will leave not with theschools disapproval but with thanks for staying as long as he did, andpulling the keys to a new Maserati out of am envelope that looked likea Visa gift card.But its a leased Maserati, and Stanford cant afford to renew thecontract. Harbaugh outgrew Stanfords philosophical ability to pay byabout three million bucks, and thats just the way it goes. Nocomplaining, no whining. Its a law of physics.Athletic director Bob Bowlsby now must apply his unique brand ofpersonal magnetism to finding someone who is closer to Harbaugh than toWalt Harris or Buddy Teevens. We would say his career depends on it,but to be honest, were just not that invested in his future one way oranother.But we are interested to see how he reinvents the wheel. Harbaugh is,and about to be was, a charming, effervescent, self-confident, andlets be honest here, borderline smug man who could peer inside youngmens souls and make them want to do things they never dreamedthemselves capable. Thats coaching with a capital Well, Ill Be Damned.And now its about to end. Harbaugh will go to Michigan, or the NFL,and it will be far more lucrative and adrenal for him while probablynot reaching the improbable heights he and the Cardinal reached here.This is a singular moment that Stanford traditionally achieves everydecade to decade and a half, and by mid-week we suspect the Cardinalwill be entering another one of those long interregnums. Not becauseStanford cant sustain this, but because it never has before, not inthe modern era anyway.And were just playing the percentages. In the meantime, enjoy this forall its worth. You are part of the greater college football worldwithout any of that messyfathers-selling-playersplayers-cheatingcoaches-committing-feloniesstuff that often makes this sport a high-powered guilty pleasure.
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Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”