Opposite Day! Stanford Thinks Harbaugh Will Stay

Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS had the obligatory news just hours after Stanford’s monster win @ USC Saturday that the Cardinal’s athletic admin was doing all it could to slap together a contract extension for coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh: Fooled You Too?

(Had ya fooled?)

The past 24 hours I’ve heard several media members say they thought the Palo Alto-raised Harbaugh would stay at Stanford because he had such a good situation. Likewise myoptic Stanford alums, who have been in my ear since Harbaugh extinguished the L.A. Coliseum’s victory torch on Saturday evening, claiming the coach has no interest in going anywhere.

Apparently those folks weren’t paying attention in January.

Will Jim Harbaugh stay at Stanford if he’s offered an NFL job?

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On Jan. 18, 2009, Mark Purdy of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS reported,

Just for the record, though, Stanford’s Athletic Director, Bob Bowlsby, told the Mercury News that no NFL team had put in a formal request to speak with Harbaugh.

It’s also worth noting that Stanford recruit Tyler Gaffney recently visited Palo Alto and told ESPN.com that Harbaugh didn’t shy away from shooting down the persistent NFL rumors.

“He told us he had no interest and the NFL isn’t for him,” Gaffney said. “He did interview, but it was a while ago. … He said he just wanted to see what it was like. But he’s going to be signing his extension at Stanford in the next week and wants to stay for the long haul.”

That’s funny, when you consider Harbaugh reportedly interviewed with the Jets the week before:

The club secretly interviewed Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, an NFL quarterback for 15 seasons, according to someone with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the club.

On Thursday, when a Jets contingent flew to Arizona to interview Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, it continued on to the Bay Area to visit with Harbaugh.

This discrepancy wasn’t lost on Purdy and Reid Cherner of USA TODAY:

It’s no sin to be an ambitious coach. And if Harbaugh is using the NFL feelers as leverage to get more money from Bowlsby, that’s also not against the law. But a man should at least be up front about the situation, unless Harbaugh wants to be considered just another borderline greasy coach who talks out of both sides of his mouth.

In case you’re wondering, Harbaugh has never denied he interviewed with the Jets.

So a week after secretly interviewing with the Jet without telling the Stanford AD, Harbaugh told a recruit he had no interest in coaching in the NFL. That a head NFL coaching job “wasn’t for him.”

And I haven’t even brought up Al Davis much-reported courtship of Harbaugh last offseason that the coach failed to shoot down publicly.

Since then, circumstances have changed. The Cardinal are playing better, and fan support has increased, something Harbaugh voiced concern about on more than one occasion.

But it’s clear that Harbaugh has his sights set on a head coaching position in the NFL - like his brother John in Baltimore. So rather than be surprised, I’d advise Stanford fans to brace themselves for the day your program’s latest savior ditches Menlo Park for a play-for-pay ballpark near you.