1972-74: Stanford University assistant
With the reputation as one of the finest assistant coaches in college football, George Seifert returned to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1972 to coach the defensive backfield at Stanford University under Jack Christiansen.
"Those Oregon defensive backs were always tough, and when I heard he was available, I simply had to have George Seifert on my staff," Christiansen said.
As for Seifert, he reports being "in awe" around Christiansen, a Hall of Fame player and coach of the 49ers 1963-67. "I remember he gave me a 49ers watch," Seifert said. "It was like getting a Super Bowl ring."
Seifert credits Christiansen and Oregon head coach Jerry Frei with his development as a coach: "I learned a lot from both of them, especially from the standpoint of dealing with players as individuals, taking them for what they are and seeing how they can contribute."
Seifert transformed the Cardinal's defensive backfield into the best in the Pacific-8 Conference in 1972 and '73. This was particularly notable because two of the best quarterbacks in the country were throwing against Stanford: Cal's Steve Bartkowski and USC's Pat Haden.
In 1972, the Stanford secondary led the Pac-8 in pass defense, allowing an average of only 112.5 yards per game in the nation's most aerial-minded conference. Stanford defenders picked off 26 passes.
When Cornell University came calling, looking for a head coach in 1975, Seifert earned this endorsement from Stanford's athletic director, Joe Reutz: "We consider him our most important assistant. He's an excellent teacher and he's our most effective recruiter."
Accolades for Seifert also came from Stanford's wrestling coach, Joe DeMeo, a Cornell alumnus: "He's a terrific coach, very popular with the players, and the players under him are the best-conditioned of any on the team. He works them hard."