Are Jim Harbaugh and Kansas Close to a Deal?

Denny K.Correspondent IDecember 11, 2009

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal looks on against the Washington Huskies at Stanford Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

A week into Lew Perkins' quest for a new head football coach at the University of Kansas, the list of potential candidates is growing clearer.

The search has not been without a few curveballs. Pundits were shocked to learn that Perkins had conversations with Ole Miss' Houston Nutt and Minnesota's Tim Brewster.

Both Nutt and Brewster have since said they are not pursuing the job at Kansas anymore.

Where does this leave the list of prospective coaches? Much like it was a week ago, with the one exception of Kevin Sumlin, who is about to sign an extension at Houston. The top remaining names for Kansas are Jim Harbaugh, Skip Holtz, and Turner Gill.

The Kansas City Star reported today that Perkins has talked with all these men, including Stanford head coach Harbaugh. The Star also reported that Harbaugh was likely Kansas' top choice for the job.

This news is very surprising because many people had thought Harbaugh would hold out for an NFL job after he was rumored to be a candidate at Notre Dame and then denied interest in going to South Bend. 

If Harbaugh was not interested in Notre Dame, why would he be interested in Kansas?

Well, it appears now that Harbaugh may actually be seriously considering Kansas. Harbaugh has not yet denied interest in the Kansas position, and his name has been linked with the vacancy for over a week.

The breaking news from the Star today that Harbaugh has spoke with Kansas will certainly put pressure on Harbaugh in Palo Alto to either confirm or deny the report.

It is a fact that Harbaugh has already spoken with Kansas.  This makes it likely that Perkins has already offered him the job. The announcement of Harbaugh's decision is likely pending the completion of the Heisman Trophy presentation, where Harbaugh's player Toby Gerhart is a top contender.

It would be a classy move by Harbaugh to wait until next week if he was leaving Stanford to not distract media attention from Gerhart's run at college football's greatest individual award.

Most people think that Harbaugh would be a home run hire for the University of Kansas. He is a successful, energetic, media-savvy, and "big name" young coach. Harbaugh has star power from his playing career in college with the Michigan Wolverines and in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.

If hired, Harbaugh would arguably be able to energize the Kansas fanbase and fundraise better than any other coach in Kansas history. 

This thought, especially the idea of a suave and polished coach hauling in the big bucks for the Kansas athletic department, must have athletic director Lew Perkins drooling.

All of these reasons make it the logical conclusion that Perkins has already offered the position to Harbaugh.  If he has not yet, he should immediately.

While Kansas is arguably a "lateral move" from Stanford (or worse), the Jayhawks can compensate Harbaugh to the tune of $2-3 million or maybe even more. The pay at Kansas would be twice the amount of what Harbaugh is speculated to be making at Stanford. Not to mention the fact that the cost of living in Lawrence, Kansas is extraordinarily cheap compared to the Bay Area.  A million dollar home in Palo Alto is relatively a normal house.  In Lawrence, Kansas a million dollar home is a castle.

Only time will tell if Jim Harbaugh is going to be leading the Jayhawks football team into the 2010 season or not. For now, though, Kansas fans and local media are buzzing with the thought of Harbaugh taking over at the helm.  It would make sense if the decision was announced soon, but we will have to see.  Little has made sense this year with Kansas' football program, so maybe that is expecting too much.