Stanford Football: Jim Harbaugh and The Offensive Landscape Of College Football

Bryan Beasley Contributor IJanuary 3, 2011

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh talks to Andrew Luck #12 during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and head coach Jim Harbaugh have been getting a lot of looks from the NFL. It appears that both will be leaving college and that Harbaugh will coach his last game in the Orange Bowl tonight in Miami.

While Luck will be a high NFL draft prospect, there is quite a bit of uncertainty concerning where Harbaugh will look to coach. The options are very simple.

Harbaugh could look to go pro as the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos have been knocking on his door. Harbaugh also has the option of becoming the head coach of his alma mater, Michigan. This scenario could happen only if head coach Rich Rodriguez is out the door after a horrendous Gator Bowl loss to Mississippi State. 

In terms of a salary, Harbaugh currently makes about $1.25 million per season and declined a contract extension. The average NFL head coach makes around $3 million. I would seriously not count Stanford out if it becomes a money game as they have the second largest alumni endowment in the country. 

The money is not the key to staying at or leaving Stanford. The big question is if Harbaugh can win without Luck. Harbaugh is not going to like the situation much better at Michigan as Denard Robinson may transfer if Rodriguez is fired. If Harbaugh, by some divine miracle, ended up at Michigan, he would have a lot of rebuilding to do to a Wolverine program that has lost its swagger over the years.

The Stanford coach would be bringing a pro-style offense to Michigan, which does not bode well for Denard Robinson. Michigan will also have to pay Rodriguez $2.5 million if they decide to fire him, but that is nothing in the grand scheme of things considering the size of their stadium generates about $5.4 million in revenue per home game. 

49ers team president Jed York will owe Mike Singletary around $5 million. The situation with the Broncos isn't much better, as the organization would have to pay Harbaugh along with Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels. 

But think about how all this is changing the landscape of college football. We have seen spread offenses pick back up over recent seasons. The prime example we've seen this year would be the Oregon Ducks' explosive spread offense. 

The demand for pro-style offenses is on the rise again. We may see more West Coast offenses, vertical/Coryell offense, and smash-mouth football as opposed to spread, spread-option, option, and run-and-shoot. Florida head coach Will Muschamp already said that he will coach a pro-style offense, which may be a reason John Brantley struggled in his first season as the starting quarterback. 

Harbaugh is getting a lot of attention from the NFL for his efficiency in coaching a pro-style offensive system. There are not many prominent college coaches that could transition to the NFL with a spread offense, for obvious reasons. The best teams in college football over recent seasons run spread offenses for the most part, but I think we will slowly start to see a transition back to the use of pro offenses. 

Let's enjoy the Orange Bowl tonight and stay tuned for more revolving where Harbaugh might end up coaching. I, personally, believe that the offensive landscape of college football will take a shift over the next few years. 


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