Jim Harbaugh is leading the Stanford Cardinal against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Monday night's Orange Bowl, just the school's second ever BCS bowl game. And it could very well be his final game as Stanford's head coach.
Harbaugh, who is 28-21 at Stanford over the past four seasons, including this year's 11-1 mark, is reportedly the top target for three teams looking for a new head coach: the Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers and, assuming they fire Rich Rodriguez, the Michigan Wolverines.
According to reports, the Broncos are expected to announce this week that former quarterback John Elway will become the team's VP of football operations, with his first task to be to discuss the team's head coach opening with Harbaugh. Elway, who played his college ball at Stanford, just so happens to be serving as an honorary captain for the Cardinal at Monday night's Orange Bowl -- a special guest of Jim Harbaugh. But an inexperienced front office and a quarterback he didn't pick himself and (Tim Tebow) has some thinking Denver is a long shot.
Meanwhile, the 49ers, who fired Mike Singletary last week, are also reportedly very interested in Harbaugh, even going so far as to already reach out to him, with Jay Glazer saying that he is "clearly their first choice." Additionally, Jed York, the team president, has already said that "money is no object."
And then there's Michigan, Harbaugh's alma mater, which is seemingly ready to make a change after a 15-22 record (and just 6-18 in the Big Ten) the past three seasons under Rich Rodriguez. And as the Detroit Free Press' Michael Rosenberg points out, the NFL jobs come and go, but this could be Harbaugh's only chance to takeover at Michigan.
But, like most things, it appears the Harbaugh sweepstakes could come down to money, writes CNBC's Darren Rovell. Harbaugh currently makes a reported $1.25 million at Stanford, and while they could probably bump up his salary, he could easily leverage his way into a paycheck nearly triple that.
He has brought success to a school that has tremendous challenges thanks to the academic barrier that it imposes on itself. His alma mater is suffering and will likely have an opening. And two once powerful NFL teams, whose owners are looking to get back on top, desperately seem to want him. What's that worth? I think it's worth at least $3.3 million a year, which will equal a 164 percent annual pay raise. That number is more than Harbaugh made in 13 out of the 14 years he played in the NFL.
The Orange Bowl, likely Harbaugh's last game at Stanford, kicks off Monday night at 8:30 p.m. EST.