Stanford Football: Orange Bowl Victory, Luck and Harbaugh's Futures Now in Doubt

Matt WagnerCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates a play against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanford won 40-12. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

At a time when Stanford University should be jubilant after an Orange Bowl 40-12 thrashing of the Virginia Tech Hokies, questions linger regarding quarterback Andrew Luck and head coach Jim Harbaugh as both are rumored to head off to the NFL next season.

Luck is projected to be the number one overall pick of the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft, however, with the NFL's collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season and a potential lockout almost inevitable, the Heisman Trophy runner-up's future is far from set in stone.

If Luck does indeed declare for the draft by the January 14 deadline, he would almost certainly be the starting quarterback heading into his rookie season given the Carolina Panthers quarterback situation in which they have one of the youngest and inconsistent quarterback rotations in the league, causing them to ultimately finish with a 2-14 record.

However, when you include the risk of an NFL lockout, the intelligent decision would be to return to Palo Alto for a senior season if the collective bargaining agreement conundrum does not improve.

Stanford Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh on the other hand, is becoming a hot commodity in both college football and the NFL as he is rumored to be targeted by the San Fransisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and the University of Michigan.

The Denver Broncos announced today that Stanford alumni and Denver Bronco legend John Elway will become the new director of football operations which is certainly an interesting move considering Denver's well publicized interest in Harbaugh.

When judging potential, the San Fransisco 49ers look to be the most attractive choice for Harbaugh as they are the most talented team in the weakest division in the NFL in the NFC West, a division which just pulled off the unprecedented and sent a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team to the playoffs as a division winner.

Rumor is that it is highly unlikely that Harbaugh will return to Stanford next season so judging from the present state of things, the San Francisco 49ers look to be the leader in the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes as of now.

Despite its Orange Bowl victory, Stanford's focus now turns to the offseason as two key decisions regarding future success as well as recruiting should be made in the coming weeks.

I will provide updates on the article when more information becomes available.