- David Lombardi, ESPN Staff Writer
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The ghost of Jim Harbaugh may present a serious challenge for Stanford coach David Shaw this offseason. Reports have indicated Harbaugh is working to lure Cardinal defensive/recruiting coordinator Lance Anderson and sports performance director Shannon Turley to join him at Michigan.
Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman tweeted that the new Wolverines coach is pursuing Anderson, who was on Harbaugh's staff at Stanford and previously at the University of San Diego. Anderson remained on the Farm with Shaw after Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, and he ascended to the defensive coordinator role before the 2014 season. Anderson maintained his position as recruiting coordinator -- where he is widely respected -- throughout this transition, and his Stanford unit finished ranked second nationally in scoring defense this season.
Meanwhile, Scout.com has reported that Turley -- who also worked under Harbaugh at both Stanford and San Diego -- is heading to Ann Arbor, though there hasn't been confirmation from either the Michigan or Stanford camps regarding that move yet.
Both Anderson and Turley are widely considered to be essential cogs of Stanford's success the past eight seasons, which have seen the program rise from the 1-11 ashes of 2006 to a national power that reached four consecutive BCS bowl games from 2010-13.
Turley's innovative strength and conditioning program has turned Stanford into a physical force while curbing the program's injury rate. Since Turley joined the Cardinal program, the team has seen an 87 percent decline in games missed due to injury. Stanford team doctors, coaches, and players have credited Turley's avant-garde focus on "functional strength" -- which includes integration of Pilates into the Cardinal's regular routine -- for much of the program's health and success.
In 2013, Turley's position became the first endowed sports performance directorship in collegiate athletics -- a surefire sign of his value to the Stanford program.
Former Stanford safety Bo McNally and linebacker Chase Thomas, who both witnessed the physical transformation of the Cardinal's program firsthand, were two of the players who took to Twitter after the Scout.com report surfaced.
If Turley is leaving Stanford for Michigan, a HUGE loss for the entire program. Hopefully they can replace him with someone he trained.
— Bo McNally (@BoMcNally) January 4, 2015
Curious to see if former players will continue to workout at Stanford during the offseason if Turley isn't there
— Chase Thomas (@CTcard44) January 4, 2015
One thing is clear: If Harbaugh does indeed succeed in luring either Anderson or Turley -- or both -- to Michigan, Shaw will be confronted with a challenging replacement search, as the departure of either of these two assistants would present particularly large shoes to fill.