Harbaugh: 'I consider myself a collegiate coach'

June, 18, 2009
6/18/09
5:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Stanford Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh appeared on "Chronicle Live" on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Wednesday night, and you can see some highlights here.

 
  Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
  If Jim Harbaugh leads Stanford to a bowl berth this season, the job offers may come flooding in.

"Highlights" might overstate things, because I couldn't find some of the best parts of the interview, at least according to a summary on Dave Fowkes' Stanford blog, which is becoming my go-to site for articles on the Cardinal. (If I'm just clueless, and there's more than just these four video clips, please, tell me how to access them.)

Most interesting: Fowkes offered this summation of Harbaugh's response to questions about his potentially jumping to an NFL coaching job in the future.

Another interesting response came when Harbaugh was asked about his potential future as an NFL head coach. While one would expect Harbaugh to say he will stay at Stanford forever, I was surprised by the way he denied his ability to coach in the NFL. "I consider myself a collegiate coach." He followed that up later with "I think I am a college guy." It will be interesting to see as Harbaugh will certainly get offers at the end of this year should Stanford continue to improve.

I see Stanford winning at least six games in 2009 and earning its first bowl berth since 2001. That will raise eyebrows among potential suitors, both at the college and NFL level, particularly if redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck puts up impressive numbers (Harbaugh is the quarterback coach).

Back in November, if you had asked me whether Harbaugh was long for Stanford, I would have said no.

It's fairly obvious this guy knows what he's doing, both as a coach and as a recruiter. So it's just a matter of time before he gets a big offer. Moreover, Stanford isn't the sort of institution that's going to ante up $2 million-plus to retain its football coach, even though the cost of living around the school is ranked among the highest in the nation.

At least, that's the university's historical modus operandi.

This is what Harbaugh told me in April:

Bottom line. Cut to the chase of the whole thing. We're just too emotionally tied to this job. Physically, emotionally, tied to this job. We can't leave. We don't want to leave. We want to build something here 15 or 20 years out that's going to be a great program. That's the vision.

The only part of that you can't do is swear to God to that. You say it to people, you look them in they eye, and they kind of look back at you and say, 'What's he really saying?' This is what we're really saying. We're going to be here a long time. We're fighting to keep this job. I want to be here 15 to 20 years.

That sounds like a guy who is going to try to stick around. Try, being the operative word.

It's not likely Stanford is ever going to be in the national championship mix, which is nearly impossible for the best academic institution in FBS football.

But if Harbaugh hangs around, the Cardinal will become a program that earns a bowl berth just about every season and, every few years, jumps into the national rankings.

Wonder if a taste of success, particularly if it includes increased revenue due to a newly packed stadium, might convince the powers-that-be at Stanford to do what rival California did a few years back for Jeff Tedford.

Pay the man.

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