Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby knows that Jim Harbaugh is kind of a big deal right now. As a result, he’s willing to fork over an even bigger deal of his own.
In an effort to keep the highly-sought Harbaugh in Palo Alto, Bowlsby has offered to increase the current $1.25 million the coach receives every year.
“We have a proposal in front of Jim and he’s indicated he plans to accept it,” Bowlsby said. “He’s got this year and four more on his contract. I expect that he will be our coach in the foreseeable future.” Currently, Harbaugh has four years remaining on his contract.
Harbaugh has led one of the more significant program turnarounds in the last four years. When the former San Diego coach arrived at Stanford, he inherited a 1-11 team. Flip those numbers and add an Orange Bowl invite to the list and Harbaugh might as well be Bear Bryant to university presidents and athletic directors.
“Anytime we have people who are highly successful, there are going to be others who are going to be interested in securing their services,” Bowlsby said. “We need to be prepared to be preemptive and responsive.”
There’s been a wildly popular school of thought that Michigan AD David Brandon will can his blubbering coach Rich Rodriguez in the near future (because, you know, there’s no crying in football), leaving open the possibility for Harbaugh to return to Ann Arbor. On the contrary, though, Harbaugh has refused to speak about possibly leaving for Michigan — or any other job for that matter — and has insisted that Stanford is “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
As has been mentioned previously, Stanford’s … um … “fan base” has been a source of speculated frustration that might cause Harbaugh to leave The Farm. In their 50,000 seat stadium, the Cardinal have averaged 80-percent attendance this season, selling out only when they hosted USC.
Certainly, it’s fathomable that Harbaugh would leave for Michigan (assuming the job does, indeed, become available) because it’s his alma mater, but throwing out the notion that he’ll bolt solely based on game attendance seems a little far fetched. For all we know, Stanford has what Harbaugh wants in a program and, if they’re willing to compensate him well, that he’ll stay.