Jim Harbaugh likely not headed to Michigan

We're going to find out a lot about Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon in the coming hours and days.

Brandon's seemingly obvious move with Michigan football -- to fire coach Rich Rodriguez and hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh -- appears to be off the board. Colleague Chris Mortensen reports that Harbaugh is more likely to remain at Stanford or take an NFL job than return to his alma mater.

One theory behind Brandon's decision to wait until after Michigan's bowl game to determine Rodriguez's future was he'd be able to pursue Harbaugh after Stanford's appearance in the Discover Orange Bowl on Monday night. The AD appears to be losing the waiting game, as Rodriguez and Michigan's recruits deal with uncertainty and Michigan is now competing with several NFL teams for top coaches.

My belief all along is Michigan should only fire Rodriguez if it could land Harbaugh. The program likely will backslide after a coaching change, and it needs someone to keep fans' spirits high about the future. Harbaugh is that man.

Michigan's horrific bowl performance makes it much more difficult to bring back Rodriguez, a gifted coach but one who hasn't shown the necessary improvement in Ann Arbor. While I still think Michigan can retain Rodriguez and clean house on the defensive staff, most fans wouldn't be pleased.

If Michigan fires Rodriguez, where should it turn? Les Miles? Brady Hoke? Gary Patterson? After watching Patterson last week at the Rose Bowl, I think he'd be a tremendous hire for Michigan, but we'll see what happens.

Stay tuned.