Based on where Stanford football was before Jim Harbaugh came to town — one win in Walt Harris‘ final year — to where it is now — four wins his first season, 11 this year plus a BcS berth — it’s hardly a surprise that the coach’s name has been attached to many coaching jobs at both the collegiate and NFL level.
This type of speculation is just something that the Cardinal and their fan base will have to deal with as long as Harbaugh is there. And as long as he’s successful.
With a new year of coaching rumors still very visible in the rear-view mirror, John Harbaugh was asked by Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post what direction he thinks his brother’s coaching career will take. While saying that he thinks he would lean toward staying at Stanford, he also added the “but” qualifier that makes Cardinal fans uneasy every time their coach’s name is attached to an opening.
“I have no idea what he’s going to do,” Harbaugh said. “We do talk about it all the time. He’s having a baby … he’s not, Sarah’s having a baby, in four or five days, and they’ve got the bowl game, so he’s just swimming right now. So, he’s not even thinking about it right now.
“I think he wants to stay at Stanford, I think he’d love to stay there, but then again, you just have to see what happens. He’s not the kind of guy that’s going to make any kind of commitment until he’s ready to make a commitment. I think his commitment right now is having a baby and winning the Orange Bowl. So, we’ll see what happens.”
We think we can very safely and accurately translate what Harbaugh’s brother was attempting to relay: he’s very happy on The Farm. Until Michigan calls. Or until an NFL team dials him up.
You hear a lot of things this time of the year as it pertains to the coaching carousel, and there are two tidbits that come up in frequent conversations with multiple people that relate directly to Harbaugh. One, it’s very likely Rich Rodriguez will be dismissed* following the Wolverines’ bowl game and Harbaugh is at the very top of David Brandon‘s list of replacements. In fact, you could say he’s No. 1 and No. 2, and possibly even No. 3.
Secondly, we’re hearing that, above all else, Harbaugh’s preference is for his next job — if there is a next job — to be at the NFL level. And that is really where you hear the rumors fly, with his name being attached to San Francisco, Cleveland and Dallas among others. Regardless of the rumored destination, though, many are convinced that Harbaugh’s next move will be to the NFL.
The thing is, nobody that’s creating or relaying this chatter really knows what would happen if Harbaugh were offered the opportunity to return to Ann Arbor, or had an NFL job dropped in his lap. By all accounts, he loves where he’s at now and is not actively seeking another job. Obviously, nothing Harbaugh says publicly will cause the chatter to cease. Nor would it keep his agent from picking up the phone if it rings.
And, of course, all it would take is one phone call to change the entire dynamic of the situation. Especially if the call originated from the 734.
(*just wanted to make things perfectly clear: we are not saying that RichRod will be fired; rather, that’s the overwhelming chatter coming from sources with connections to the situation.)