At this point, it's the worst-case scenario for Michigan and Wolverine athletic director Dave Brandon: let Rich Rodriguez twist in the wind for a month in the hopes of potentially landing Jim Harbaugh, watch Rodriguez's team get buried -- again -- in their bowl game, see recruits (and huge swaths of the fanbase) jump ship as the bulk of the free world assumes RichRod is a fired coach walking, watch Harbaugh destroy Virginia Tech in Stanford's bowl game as an indication of what the Wolverines would ge getting ... and then, finally, after all that, have Harbaugh tell his alma mater he's not interested after all.
But that's exactly the scenario Detroit Free-Press columnist Michael Rosenberg has laid out for the Wolverines, reporting that a source "with direct knowledge of Harbaugh’s thinking" has told him that the Orange Bowl champion is "highly unlikely" to accept an offer to become the new Michigan head man:
Harbaugh plans to decide this week whether he wants to take a job in the NFL. If he stays in college coaching, he has decided he will stay at Stanford, where he has built a potential powerhouse. It would take an extreme change of heart for Harbaugh to end up in Ann Arbor, according to the person, who did not want to be identified because Rich Rodriguez is still U-M’s coach.If you're Stanford, it's time to do some cartwheels, since the assumption for nearly the entire bowl season has been that if Michigan didn't poach him away, some NFL suitor would. For the Cardinal to still be a serious option for Harbaugh at this late stage would be something of a victory in and of itself.
But if you're Michigan, well, whatever the opposite of a cartwheel is (pantomiming bashing one's own head with a hammer?), it's time to do that. If Rosenberg's source is accurate, the Wolverines are left in an almost untenable position; they either let Rodriguez coach (and recruit, or, more accurately, fail to recruit) another year with the guillotine publicly perched over his head, or they enter into a full-on coaching search with lots of other attractive candidates already spoken for and less than a month to go until Signing Day.
By waiting until after the bowl games, Brandon has essentially put all his eggs into Harbaugh's basket. If Harbaugh returns that basket with a note saying "thanks, but no thanks," Rodriguez's rocky tenure might only be the start of the Wolverines' misery.