The 2011 Orange Bowl is now complete and the Stanford Cardinal absolutely rolled the Virginia Tech Hokies courtesy of a dominant second half. While the Hokies hung close after two quarters, 27 unanswered Cardinal points in the third and fourth quarters did them in. The question with the end of this beatdown is what is next for QB Andrew Luck and head coach Jim Harbaugh.
For our purposes we'll ignore the Andrew Luck implications. If Luck turns pro, unless the 49ers move up in the draft there's little chance they'll get him. His decision will impact the rest of the draft, but for the next two weeks, that's not important for 49ers fans. The real question is what will happen with Jim Harbaugh. He's the hottest name in coaching right now and it's really not even close. It remains to be seen if he's the best choice, but we won't really know that until after the fact.
In the meantime, the question now becomes what his choice will be. We've heard rumors he will go to Michigan, the 49ers remain high on the radar, and of course Stanford remains an option if he's truly happy there. However, I really believe he leaves Stanford at this point. The Cardinal just completed arguably the best season in school history. I suppose he and Andrew Luck could decide to return and make a run at the national title game, but barring that unprecedented coach/player collaboration, I'd be very surprised if Harbaugh stayed at Stanford.
If Luck goes pro Harbaugh would be starting over with a program that isn't a football factory like some of your traditional powers. Yes they have talent in place and yes they would have a boost in recruiting, particularly if Luck goes pro and goes number one overall. However, as much money as Stanford could shell out from their endowment, it doesn't mean much if they don't invest in their program like some of the traditional powers. Stanford is not on the level of the major programs in terms of being built for serious long-term success. They could develop into that, but for now it's just not quite in place.
In the meantime, I would like to say Harbaugh handled the post-game interview issues really well. Michelle Tafoya was ready to ask about the coaching situation and he quickly pushed her towards Andrew Luck and defensive lineman Shayne Skov, the two stars of the game. He then was off before Tafoya could get a coaching question out. Well played indeed Jim Harbaugh. A classy way to handle the situation in my opinion.
Now that the game is over, Coach Harbaugh will be holding a post-game press conference very shortly. I can't imagine he'll give a definitive answer at this point, but it will be worth watching. We'll have more updates if anything big happens in the press conference.