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Jim Harbaugh Coaching Watch: Reuniting With Andrew Luck With The Carolina Panthers?

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The Carolina Panthers, despite a victory last week over the Arizona Cardinals, are still in the driver’s seat for obtaining the number one draft pick. At 2-12, and with road dates at Pittsburgh and at Atlanta looming, Carolina seems guaranteed to finish in last place in the NFL this season, and place themselves in plum position to win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes—if Luck decides to turn pro.

With John Fox almost certainly on his way out at season’s end, we have a definite opening for an NFL coaching position this offseason. This leaves Stanford Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh one possible landing spot in the big-time, because it’s one of the few places that is likely to have both a quarterback and coaching change next season. Will Harbaugh be interested in joining one of the the main reasons for his success at Stanford in a possible package deal?

Pat Yasinskas of the NFC South blog believes it’s a distinct possibility.

People already have been throwing around Jim Harbaugh’s name and I think there are at least logical reasons for the Panthers to take a look at him. Harbaugh’s had success at Stanford and he’s young and enthusiastic. He also is the guy who has been coaching Andrew Luck. In case you haven’t heard, there is a pretty good chance Luck will be the first player chosen in the 2011 draft. There’s an even better chance the 1-11 Panthers will hold that pick.

Harbaugh may be a college coach, but he had a lengthy NFL career, so the transition wouldn’t be that dramatic.

There is one problem: Jimmy Clausen. The Carolina brass might not be quite ready to quit on their supposed future franchise quarterback.

But I’m not convinced the people who still will be in power are
ready to give up on Jimmy Clausen, although Fox never embraced him. It’s possible the Panthers could hire Harbaugh and ask him to develop Clausen.

If that’s the case, it could be quite possible that Luck’s draft status for next season could be directly influenced on whether the Panthers want Clausen as their man. And by proxy, Harbaugh’s decision between the pros and the collegiate ranks could be directly influenced as well, since coaching AND quarterback changes on one team are highly unlikely to happen in many places this offseason.