What if Jim Harbaugh stays at Stanford?
Before answering, ask yourself this: What if Andrew Luck stays at Stanford?
The pair's decisions continue to be intertwined on some level after Monday's conclusive win by Stanford in the Orange Bowl. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Harbaugh is "highly unlikely" to take the Michigan job.
So does that mean Harbaugh is going to take one of the many NFL openings? Not necessarily. Remember, this is an unconventional guy. If Andrew Luck stays and decides to complete his degree in 2011, then Harbaugh may be on board. If Harbaugh stays, Luck may be on board. With Luck, Stanford probably starts the 2011 season in the top 10 despite heavy losses on the offensive line. With Luck back, the Cardinal would return 18 starters.
"That's something I'll definitely have to give a lot of thought about, whatever happens to him," Luck said of his coach.
Luck, a redshirt sophomore, told reporters last month that the lure of getting a Stanford degree is enticing.
"I would love to have a degree from Stanford," said Luck, an architectural design major. "Not the whole point but a big part of going to a university like Stanford is to graduate and get a degree. And have the opportunity to go into the business word at some point with a Stanford degree. It's a big deal."
Former Stanford great John Elway was on the sidelines Monday night rooting for his college team but obviously wanting a shot at both Harbaugh and Luck. Elway is set to become the Broncos vice president of football operations.
Luck seems as ready as any player could be for the draft. He is projected to be the No. 1 player taken. But the lure of completing his degree, playing again for Harbaugh and spending time with his sister Mary Ellen, a freshman at Stanford, might be too much. He is not worried about dropping in the 2012 draft if he stays.
"I don’t want to sound cocky or pretentious, but no I think you have to have trust in the decision you're going to make," Luck said. "If I was going back to school I think I'd be confident that I could still perform at a high level."
As for playing for Harbaugh:
"He's very unique that he actually is a position coach as well as the head coach. He's very hands on. He's in the meeting, every meeting, as a quarterback ... As a team all the credit goes to him for where we are right now."
If Harbaugh stays/goes to the NFL what does Michigan do? It probably keeps Rich Rod in hopes of maybe snagging Urban Meyer or Harbaugh after the 2011 season. While that affects recruiting, there are no slam-dunk candidates. San Diego State's Brady Hoke doesn't seem sexy enough. There's no indication that Les Miles wants out of LSU. While Miles feels unappreciated at times, LSU could start 2011 ranked in the top five and the favorite to win the SEC West. Michigan would be a rebuild.