Harbaugh Needs Luck in Job Search

This time every year there is a golden child.  A hot commodity that stands far and above everyone else.  Even in a year when Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden have floated trial balloons on coming back to coaching, the golden child this year is current Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh has done what many before him found almost impossible.  Turning around the losing fortunes of the football program at Stanford.  Bill Walsh couldn’t do it.  The job drove him back to television.  Not even John Elway and his rocket arm could lead the Cardinal into a bowl game.  Harbaugh has accomplished all that and more in 4 years.

Leading Stanford to a 12-1 record this year and an Orange Bowl win has put Harbaugh in the spotlight of the NFL’s most wanted.  Carolina, San Francisco, Miami and Denver are all coveting the wunderkind.  Michigan wants a chance just to talk with him about returning his alma mater to precious land of winners.  Yet Harbaugh stands firm in taking his time and deciding what his immediate coaching future will be.

Stanford has one of the most stringent enrollment procedures in the nation.  It ranks with Ivy league schools like Yale and Harvard.  Just to enter the school an athlete has to meet parameters that would make even the brightest scholars shudder.  That makes what Harbaugh has done even more impressive.  He has taken a high caliber academic school and made it into one of the top football programs in the country.  But even Harbaugh had help.

That came in the form of a 6’4, 235 pound Texan from Stratford High school named Andrew Luck.  The son of former NFL quarterback and current West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, Andrew has NFL scouts drooling over his talents and ability to learn on the run.  Pardon the pun but Harbaugh got lucky when Andrew put his hat in the ring to come to California and help turn around the Cardinal losing ways.

Imagine this scenario, and most certainly those in the Bay area are.  Harbaugh has quietly let it be known he would like to stay in the Stanford area, but move into the pros and battle with his brother John at Baltimore.  That means he would have to take the Niners or Oakland job.  One would think the Niners job would be more palatable to Harbaugh rather than working for and under the thumb of Al Davis.  San Francisco currently owns the 7th pick in the NFL draft.  Meanwhile the owner of the first pick is Carolina.  Depending upon who takes the Panthers coaching job will tell the direction they will want to go in the draft. 

After losing Julius Peppers last year as a free agent to the Bears, Carolina lost their defensive presence along the line.  Considering Carolina already has two young quarterbacks in Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike to build around, owner Jerry Richardson may be willing to make a deal.  If Harbaugh is at San Francisco, could a package be offered to the Panthers including linebacker Patrick Willis and a swap of first round picks, plus a couple more picks later in the draft.  That would allow Luck to be drafted by San Francisco and the Panthers could replace Peppers with one of the finest defensive players in the league.

Denver picks second and they covet Luck, third is Buffalo and then comes Cincy.  All those teams would jump at the chance to give Carolina what they want for the top pick.  But San Francisco appears to be the only team that has what Carolina wants to give up the first pick.  Now is the time from dreaming, and this kind of dream could get the Niners and Carolina back into the relevancy category of the NFL quickly.


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