Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh is a hot commodity these days after turning the moribund Cardinal program around into a respectable Pac-10 outfit. Meanwhile, the coaching change season has started particularly early and particularly bloody this year, raising the profile and earnings potential for coaches like Harbaugh.
All of which makes Harbaugh's impending contract extension with Stanford so puzzling. Stanford isn't a bad job, but the program has its limits while bigger opportunities may await him at any price he names. The usual coach-speak was offered at a press conference this week before the Big Game against Cal:
"Let me be clear on this. I'm 100 percent committed to Stanford University,'' Harbaugh said. "I love my job at Stanford. I have a great wife, a new baby, I love my job, I love the guys I coach for. I could not imagine coaching anywhere else.'
We get it, life is good and he's doing well at a program just a few clicks off the radar of being high profile. You can't put a price on happiness and whatever the talks are between Stanford and Harbaugh are, they may add seven figures a year to it, but ...
There's the Tennnessee job out there. Maybe Auburn. The Raiders. Maybe even dear old alma mater Michigan in a year or two if Rich Rodriguez continues to look miserable.
It's clear coaches can get out of their deals nowadays, usually at a steep price. Harbaugh isn't truly locked into any extension he signs, but it makes it a lot harder when and if he does start looking around and makes for inevitably sore feelings as fans watch their school deal with the divorce and headache of finding a new coach hoping he isn't the next Buddy Teevens or Walt Harris.
Hopefully he's considered all of that.
The upshot is the Pac-10 retains, at least for a few years, a quality coach who has helped resurrect one of the conference bottom feeders just a few years ago. Harbaugh also clearly has a feel for how to challenge Pete Carroll and USC after toppling them last year and making USC look stupid for nearly three quarters last week before the dam burst and USC's running game and talent overwhelmed Stanford.
Hey, maybe UCLA would take him?
Jim Harbaugh Is Trying to Take Himself Off the Market With Extension originally appeared on NCAA Football FanHouse on Tue, 18 Nov 2008 16:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.