Upset victories by the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos yesterday assured that the Carolina Panthers will finish the 2010 season with the worst record in the NFL and therefore will be awarded the first pick of the 2011 draft.
Despite the fact that the team invested in Jimmy Clausen with their first pick last April, it is a virtual certainty that the team will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave school early.
With Luck now knowing precisely where he'd begin his NFL career, his decision is made easier.
His decision could furthermore be made easier if recent speculation is correct and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh is likely to leave The Cardinal after this season for another coaching position.
Many league insiders feel that if Harbaugh leaves, Luck will leave Stanford too.
Throughout the year there had been plenty of bold talk out of Stanford that Harbaugh would return. In fact, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby had been quoted as saying that "Jim has indicated he plans to accept" a multi-year extension rumored to be in the neighborhood of three million dollars per season. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked Harbaugh if he had signed the deal (he hasn't) and what Harbaugh thought of his Bowlsby's proclamation that Harbaugh would soon sign the deal. Harbaugh's short reply only added fuel to the fire that he is looking at other options. Harbaugh, according to Wilner, said "Maybe he [Bowlsby] misspoke."
We now know Carolina has the first pick. One can read between the lines to see that Harbaugh is considering his options. There is a belief throughout the league that Harbaugh will consider an NFL position, but would rather take over for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Harbaugh's alma mater.
The only question now is whether Luck wants to play in Carolina.
Current Panthers' head coach John Fox is on his way out. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney may want to consider head coaches that would entice Luck to leave school early.