Ok, so Harbaugh would be great, no one seems to be arguing that point. But just for the heck of it, let's discuss our other options, in the event that Harbaugh stays at Stanford.
1. Rich Rodriguez. I know, he seems to have overstayed his welcome, but he has shown improvement every year he's been here, and the players we have now (at least on offense) fit his system. Also, I could be wrong about this, but I believe he only has one year left on his contract, so we might keep him for one more season to avoid a buy out.
2. Chris Peterson. It's no secret that Boise has been really good for the past few years, and at some point, Peterson will realize that it's simply too tough to win a championship at Boise, so he could be looking for a change. I know they lost to Nevada, but that really shouldn't be much of a deterrant, as everyone has hiccups at some point.
3. Gary Peterson. Pretty much the same situation as #2.
4. Kyle Whittingham. Yeah, yeah I know, Utah hasn't been that great this year, and yes, I'm very aware of the shalacking that TCU put on them, but that doesn't change the fact that his tenure at Utah has been very good. Also, the last coach to leave Utah for a big program was this guy named Urban Meyer...every heard of him? Biggest issue would be if he wants to come. With Utah going to the Pac 10, he may well just want to stay at Utah, since they're going to be in a major conference.
5. Les Miles. Honestly, I don't want him, but I feel obligated to put him here, as he is still an option. He seems to have just about overstayed his welcome at LSU, as their fans have become annoyed with his bad game management. My question: if LSU doesn't really like him that much (after winning a championship there), why should we want him? Also, he's done some pretty sketchy things in recruiting (google Elliott Porter LSU if you're interested).
1. RichRod - I am an outsider, of course, but I never thought he fit in with the culture in Ann Arbor. I'm sure my judgment is clouded by Nebraska's experience with Bill Callahan, but I just don't see Rodriguez as a permanent part of Michigan culture. He was an attempt at a change of pace, but in my opinion that change of pace has not worked. I think he should go.
2. Chris Petersen - I'm leery of his ability to translate success at Boise in the Big 10. The Big 10 is the Big Time, not the WAC, and although I think Petersen was the brains behind the operation the whole time and not Hawkins, we saw how poorly Hawkins' methods translated to the Big 12 at Colorado. It's probably unfair to paint Petersen with the same brush, but I'd be concerned. Still, his track record against top teams is impressive. He's probably the best candidate on your list after Patterson.
3. Gary Patterson - This is the guy I'd go after. Even factoring in TCU's abysmal SOS, I think Patterson has more than done enough to prove that he's capable of producing. Since joining the MWC, Patterson's Horned Frogs have lost 11 games (in 5+ years) and have a legit shot at the MNC. If TCU wins their bowl game I cannot imagine Patterson staying at Texas Christian, and if Michigan really wants to make a change, they've got to get him.
4. Kyle Whittingham - I don't know much about him to be honest, but of the three (Petersen, Patterson and Whittingham), I'd put him at the bottom of the list.
5. Les Miles - I don't consider him a real candidate. He'd have to get fired from LSU to go to Michigan and I doubt seriously that happens. If he does get fired, that will hardly instill confidence into recruits, and it'll be a disaster. I know why you put him on the list, but I would consider him the least likely of these options.
I think people are jumping the gun a bit in thinking Rodriguez is automatically gone. It's funny how close the team really is to being great.....find a defense that only gives up 21 points a game and Michigan is 10-2 right now. Easier said than done, I realize that, but really to have the worst defense in Michigan history and in the country and still be 7-5 is a testament to how close the team really is. We have a favorable schedule next year and another solid recruiting class coming in with more players to commit. I'm on the fence as far as whether or not to keep him, but I would be surprised if he is canned.
Also: Harbaugh will NOT be attending the team banquet.
Sure, with a even decent defense, we might be 10-2...but we don't have a decent defense, and that's a big part of football. On the same token, you could say is LSU had a decent offense, they would be undefeated...but they don't. The fact is, Rich Rod needs to be better than just in offense, and he's not. And with that said, it's not just the defense, it's special teams also. Fair or not, the culture at Michigan is that we want wins and we want them now. It's not a matter of waiting a few years and getting a little big better each year. Going to the Insight bowl should NOT be considered a successful season, and that's where we're sitting right now. Win the bowl, he has a shot at staying. Lose and I think he's gone (and they likely play against either Oklahoma State or Mizzou, so losing is a pretty good possibility). Like Knapp said, I didn't really like the hiring when it happened, and I am still not a fan.
Quick note on Harbaugh: the reason he's not attending the banquet, at least according to what he says, is that he has some football activities scheduled, so he couldn't come. Doesn't seem to indicate anything either way about his future with Stanford or Michigan.
Knapp- what makes you think Gary Patterson would be more able to adjust to Big 10 football than Chris Peterson? Seems to me they've both been relatively equal in terms of success, both in similar situations.
Mostly it's that Patterson has coached in the crucible of Texas football, while Petersen has largely been able to fly under the radar in Boise. Maybe that's a misconception, but football is just different in Texas than it is in Idaho. It's different than anywhere else except the South, where it's different-er. Coaching, and winning, in that kind of environment makes me think he's better suited to the fishbowl that Michigan would be.
Of course, Urban Meyer is the easiest example that blows that theory, so I could be entirely full of it.