Andrew Luck: Can Luck and Stanford Win 2012 BCS Title Without Jim Harbaugh?

Ross ColemanAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2011

Andrew Luck: Can Luck and Stanford Win 2012 BCS Title Without Jim Harbaugh?

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    Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to come back to school for his Junior season. Head coach Jim Harbaugh's status is still up in the air.

    After a 12-1 season and an impressive Orange Bowl victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies, Stanford looks like they are on the short list for great college teams.

    However, would Stanford be able to win the BCS title if Harbaugh decides to take the San Francisco 49ers head coaching gig?

    Here are five reasons why they could win it and five reasons they won't.

    Read on and let us know what you think.

5. No: Still Not the Best Team in the Pac-12

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    Stanford's lone loss this season came at Oregon's Autzen Stadium to a Ducks team that is undefeated and playing for the BCS Championship this year.

    The Cardinal lost 52-31 to a team that returns a bunch of key players including starting quarterback Derron Thomas and star running back LaMichael James.

5. Yes: Top-10 Recruiting Class

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    According to, Stanford has the sixth best recruiting class so far in 2010. They have 22 players committed, seven of which are four stars or higher. 13 of their prospects are on offense and nine are on defense.

    In fact, during Harbaugh's time at Stanford he has recruited very well. During his four years as the Stanford head coach, the recruiting classes the Cardinal have brought in have climbed from 43rd to sixth.

4. No: Exodus If Harbaigh Leaves

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    Jim Harbaugh is the draw for a lot of these kids at Stanford. He is the type of guy that brings people to him. If he were to leave, I think quite a few guys would not stick to their commitment to Stanford.

    In fact a few of the current committed players have decided to take visits elsewhere if Harbaugh does decide to head for the 49ers.

    While the 2011 recruiting class won't be a huge deterrent for Stanford next season, it would weaken the depth on the roster.

4. Yes: Schedule Not Too Tough

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    Here is Stanford's 2011 Schedule:

    9/3       SJSU

    9/10     @Duke

    9/17     @Arizona

    10/1     UCLA

    10/8     Colorado

    10/15   @WSU

    10/22   Washington

    10/29   @USC

    11/5     @Oregon State

    11/12   Oregon

    11/19   Cal

    11/26   Notre Dame

    12/3     Pac-12 Championship

    Stanford gets Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame at home. The hardest road games they have are at USC, who is always tough, and at Oregon State who will be better than this year.

3. No: Losing 7 Offensive Starters

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    Stanford is losing five offensive starters next year including three starting offensive linemen.

    The Cardinal lose left guard Andrew Phillips, center Chase Beeler, right tackle Derek Hall, wide receiver Doug Baldwin, wide receiver Ryan Whalen, tight end Konrad Reuland and full back Owen Marecic.

    The sound of losing Owen Marecic might not sound like a big loss, however Marecic also starts at middle linebacker and is good at running the ball from the full back position. His loss will be felt quite a bit.

3. Yes: Next Head Coach Probably All Ready On Staff

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    If Jim Harbaugh does leave there are a few guys that could step in immediately and stabilize the team. 

    Greg Roman is the Associate Head Coach and Assistant Head Coach of Offense. David Shaw is the offensive coordinator.

    Either one of those guys would be able to step in and would keep the ball rolling.

2. No: Defensive Coordinator Probably Wouldn’t Stay

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    Vic Fangio is the current defensive coordinator at Stanford. He has installed the 3-4 defense there and if the Orange Bowl was any indication, they are fantastic at running it. However, Fangio is rumored to be gone.

    He is a candidate for the open defensive coordinator position at UCLA, Texas, and many other schools and it has been rumored that his relationship with Harbaugh is strained and Fangio is looking for a change of scenery. 

    It is questionable if he will be back in Palo Alto next year.

2. Yes: Still A Ton of Depth on the Team

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    Stanford returns nearly their entire running back stable, most of their tight ends, quite a few offensive linemen and nearly all of their secondary.

    Out of the two deep, the Cardinal lose 12 guys and have a ton of talent on the roster.

1. No: Harbaugh Is the Driving Force on This Team

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    Jim Harbaugh has transformed Stanford from a historically academic institute that is towards the bottom of the Pac-10, to one of the best teams in the conference.

    If you ever watch a Stanford game it is obvious that Harbaugh's players love him and the feeling is mutual. Without him running the team it is hard to see them having the same live or die attitude going into every game.

1. Yes: Luck Is the Best College Quarterback in Recent Memory

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    Andrew Luck's numbers after two years as a starter:

    5,913 yards, 45 touchdowns, 12 interceptions.

    He has more yardage and touchdowns in two years than any quarterback in school history. That includes Hall of Famers John Elway and Jim Plunkett.

    I guess it helps to have a photographic memory and be an architecture major.

Conclusion: Can Stanford Win the BCS Title in 2012?

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    With or without Jim Harbaugh I think Stanford will be a factor in the BCS Championship picture in 2012.

    However, will they win it? That remains to be seen.

    The Pac-12 will be a tougher sledding next year for the Cardinal and I expect Cal, UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado, and even Washington State to all be better next year.

    So if I was forced to choose, I would say no.

    Stanford will not win the BCS Championship next season, but they will be one of the best teams in the nation.