Pittsburgh's Walt Harris was hired as Stanford's new football coach yesterday, giving the Cardinal the offensive-minded leader it sought to replace Buddy Teevens. Stanford spokesman Gary Migdol...

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STANFORD, Calif. — Pittsburgh’s Walt Harris was hired as Stanford’s new football coach yesterday, giving the Cardinal the offensive-minded leader it sought to replace Buddy Teevens.

Stanford spokesman Gary Migdol said Harris accepted the job yesterday, and the school planned an official announcement for today.

“He’s accepted and will be here tomorrow,” Migdol said. “He’s in Pittsburgh today.”

Harris, 58, reportedly met with his Pitt players yesterday and is expected to coach the 19th-ranked Panthers in the Fiesta Bowl against Utah on Jan. 1 before assuming his new job.

Harris interviewed on campus Friday, two days after USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow interviewed. Athletic director Ted Leland offered Harris the job Saturday.

“He interviewed very well and presented himself very well,” Stanford linebacker Jon Alston told The Associated Press in a phone interview yesterday . “In my impression, he’s done some really impressive things, and hopefully he can continue them at Stanford.”

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. Harris met last week with Pitt AD Jeff Long, but the school didn’t offer him an extension for more than the nearly $600,000 yearly he was earning.

Leland, who hired Harris to be head coach at Pacific in 1989, 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.

Weis accepts

Notre Dame job

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Charlie Weis was hired to coach at Notre Dame, the school the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator graduated from and where this season’s 6-5 record led to the firing of Tyrone Willingham.

Weis agreed to a six-year deal that will pay him a reported $2 million per year. His hiring ended an embarrassing two-week search by the Fighting Irish to find a coach for perhaps the most storied program in the nation.

The 48-year-old Weis arrived at the school last night just hours after the Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Foxboro, Mass. Within an hour, he was off to meet with players.

“I believe there is a proper protocol, and right now, the most important thing is that I go talk to the players,” Weis said. “So, tomorrow is our time for the press conference.”

The players met with Weis for about 30 minutes and seemed excited about their new coach.

“It’s nice to have a little bit of closure and know we have a coach and know what kind of system we’re going to have next year,” offensive guard Bob Morton said. “It’s a good night for Notre Dame.”

Morton said Weis told the players he’ll be around as much as possible, but would be staying with the Patriots through the playoffs.


• San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson has emerged as the secret leading candidate to become coach at Mississippi, ESPN reported..

Erickson plans to stand firm this week against 49ers front-office sentiments that he fire some of his assistant coaches, ESPN reported. 49ers general manager Terry Donahue has insisted the team will not fire Erickson, who has three years remaining on his contract at $2.5 million annually.

After the 49ers’ 31-28 win over the Arizona Cardinals yesterday, Erickson shut down any talk about reports that his job was in jeopardy.

“I’m not going to answer any questions about rumors that are out there and meetings and all the different things,” he said.

• USC QB Matt Leinart owns a Heisman Trophy and one national title, has a shot at another championship coming up and is likely to be a high first-round NFL draft choice in April if he decides to skip his senior season.

It would seem as though Leinart must be a lock to go pro, right? No so fast: He’s been saying since last year he wants to use all of his college eligibility. And moments after clutching the Heisman, he hadn’t changed his tune.

“That’s a question I get asked a lot,” he said Saturday. “But I’m sticking to my word that I still intend to return for my fifth year.

“I’m aware of the opportunity; we’ll see what happens.”