It's always been assumed that Jim Harbaugh would leave the comfortable nest is Palo Alto, as head coach of the Stanford Cardinal, for greener pastures as the opportunities came flooding in. Harbaugh is, without a doubt, the hottest commodity in coaching circles right now, at both the college and NFL level. Top-tier colleges -- like Michigan -- want him and NFL teams looking for a change are after him. But what if Harbaugh's loyalty to the Cardinal wins out?
Stanford continues to struggle with the perception that its fan base is apathetic, caring not about athletics or its outstanding football team. After all, the Cardinal ended the season at No. 4 in the BCS, earned a date to the Orange Bowl, yet struggled to sell their allotment of tickets. Stanford boasts an endowment in the billions, the finest academics in the Pac-10, yet alumni and fans seem to ignore its football team.
Amid reports of impending doom -- with Harbaugh's name surfacing in every coaching search imaginable -- the buzz from Stanford, and those close to Harbaugh is not about potential jobs, but his loyalty to Stanford.
FWIW: Source close to Harbaugh says it's "become harder" for him to leave Stanford for any job
Should Harbaugh stay at Stanford, and convince his star quarterback Andrew Luck to finish his degree at Stanford, the Cardinal immediately vault into the national championship conversation for 2011. While the Cardinal do lose a significant senior class, the recruiting job done by Harbaugh ensures his cupboard is far from bare, leaving him plenty of room to continue moving the program forward.
Maybe Harbaugh won't go. In this day and age, loyalty by college coaches is rare and somewhat unexpected. With rumors swirling around Harbaugh growing by the second, his silence has become deafening. Perhaps it's because he's happy in Palo Alto, and has no intentions of leaving. Whatever happens, it's likely to come fast, with the Miami Dolphins, Michigan Wolverines and San Francisco 49ers all jockeying for his services. If the Cardinal keep their head coach, it would be a bigger recruiting victory than any one player, including that star quarterback of theirs.