Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh unlikely to bolt to Michigan

Jim Harbaugh is highly unlikely to accept the Michigan football coaching job if it becomes available, a person with direct knowledge of Harbaugh’s thinking told the Free Press.

Harbaugh plans to decide this week whether he wants to take a job in the NFL. If he stays in college coaching, he has decided he will stay at Stanford, where he has built a potential powerhouse. It would take an extreme change of heart for Harbaugh to end up in Ann Arbor, according to the person, who did not want to be identified because Rich Rodriguez is still U-M’s coach.

The San Francisco 49ers are making a strong push to hire Harbaugh. New Denver Broncos executive John Elway attended the Orange Bowl on Monday — as an honorary captain for Stanford, his alma mater — and ESPN has reported Elway would like Harbaugh to coach his team. But Harbaugh also could stay at Stanford — a possibility that seemed remote just a few days ago.

Harbaugh’s decision leaves Michigan in a precarious and uncertain position. There has been speculation that athletic director Dave Brandon has targeted Harbaugh as the Wolverines’ next coach while he also conducts his end-of-season review of Rodriguez.

If that’s the case, what is Brandon’s Plan B? It’s unclear. If he decides to keep Rodriguez, who has a 15-22 record three years into a six-year contract, it could create an extremely unusual and uncomfortable situation.

Rodriguez’s firing has been considered a foregone conclusion in the media and among the fan base, especially after Saturday’s 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, and he has faced an uphill battle in recruiting with all the speculation since the end of the regular season. This week, Rodriguez’s top-rated recruit, running back Demetrius Hart from Orlando, announced he was switching his commitment to Alabama.

Speculation has been that if Harbaugh said no to Michigan, Brandon could turn to San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, a former Michigan assistant under Lloyd Carr.

source:  Detroit Free Press
author:  Michael Rosenberg via Rachel Nichols/ESPN on Twitter

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