There was something about last night's Orange Bowl that really bothered me. No it wasn't that the Orange Bowl has switched sponsors from FedEx to Discover, although that switch does reveal how shameless the business side of college athletics has become. Nor was it the performance of Virginia Tech, who, despite being the sentimental favorite of media pundits looked like they belonged in the BCS just as much as the University of Connecticut did in the Fiesta Bowl. It didn't even bother me that Stanford's 40-12 win might be the last time we see either head coach Jim Harbaugh or starting quarterback Andrew Luck in Cardinal red. No, what really bothered me was the line of questioning that was aimed at Luck, and then Harbaugh, in the Stanford press conference immediate following the game. You all know what I am talking about, that the media (and ESPN shares a lot of the blame here) could not help but ask Luck and Harbaugh if this was their last game with the University of Stanford.
Hey I understand that the media gets paid to attract more viewers to its network, and if ESPN can break the story that either Andrew Luck declares for the draft or Jim Harbaugh becomes the next coach of Michigan before anyone else does that means higher ratings for them. But just like the final year that Lloyd Carr spent in Michigan, speculation has been rampant that Harbaugh wants to return to Michigan, just like Les Miles supposedly did that year. And heaven forbid Andrew Luck should want to return to one of the preeminent universities in the nation to finish his degree at Stanford when he could make millions in the NFL draft by declaring tomorrow morning. Nevermind the fact that if there might not even be a season next fall the the players association and the owners can't work out a new labor agreement. But it almost seems unfathomable to the media that either the coach or the player would want to return to Stanford.
However, can't Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck take a moment to bask in the glory of one of the greatest seasons in Stanford football history before they are asked 'what's next, gentleman?' Kudos to Luck for refusing to answer the question regarding his draft status at all, instead saying he wanted to enjoy the moment. And a double kudos goes to Harbaugh for refusing to answer the one question that has been on the media's(read: ESPN) mind for several weeks now. Certainly last night will not be the last time these two are asked those questions this year, but at the very least they should not have to answer those types of questions for at least another week.
You know, there used to be a day when news was just that, news. Nowadays, especially in the information age, hardly anything we read comes as a surprise. I mean, if and when it is announced that Jim Harbaugh has left Stanford to join another team, will anyone outside of the Cardinal Nation care? More shocking would be to hear that both Harbaugh and Luck return to Stanford for another season. Of course ESPN is working on that angle, too.