Could Stanford lure Chris Petersen?

Every year, you tend to hear Chris Petersen's name thrown into the college football coaching rumor mill. Nearly every time, all the talk is harmless scuttlebutt.

So what to make of the weekend report that Stanford has notified Boise State that it would like to speak to Petersen? Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby is going to take a look at in-house candidates as well, but he owes it to himself and his program to see whether or not Petersen would be willing to leave the Broncos to take over for Jim Harbaugh.

Petersen, after all, is 61-5 in five seasons as head coach at Boise State. Regardless of the critics who rip Boise State for its weak strength of schedule, Petersen is highly regarded in college football circles because of the job he has been able to do in Boise -- elevating a non-AQ program into a Top 10 team.

The question is whether or not Petersen would actually leave. He played at UC-Davis and is from California. Boise State recruits heavily in the state. He has taken Boise State to two BCS wins, undefeated seasons, and a ranking as high as No. 2 this season. You have to wonder whether or not he has done all he can do for Boise State. The Broncos move to the Mountain West for 2011, but there is no guarantee that league is going to be an automatic qualifier. Boise State will continue to be an outsider trying to break through a glass ceiling. No non-AQ team has played for a national championship. Even if the Broncos had gone undefeated this season, they would have been on the outside looking in once again.

Stanford, of course, provides an opportunity to be in an AQ conference. The Cardinal have plenty of talent returning, and Petersen has proven to be capable of taking a program to a different level. He did that when he took over for Dan Hawkins at Boise State. Can he maintain and build on what Harbaugh did at Stanford? He has the coaching mind to do it, but winning at Stanford has been a difficult proposition.

Let's not forget: Hawkins was a disaster at Colorado. That may or may not serve as a cautionary tale for Petersen, since he is the one who is considered to be the guy behind the Broncos' success when Hawkins was still in Boise.

As for Boise State, it's a no brainer that Petersen is the one coach the Broncos can't lose. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is off to Texas, the second coordinator to leave in as many seasons (defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox left for Tennessee last season). Both were young coordinators starting out when Petersen became head coach in 2006. You know the Broncos will do whatever it takes to convince Petersen to stay.

If Petersen leaves, it has to be for the perfect opportunity, for a place where he knows he can succeed. His family is happy in Boise, and so is Petersen. He has immense job security, and is no doubt set for life if he continues to win there. Is that fulfilling enough for him, or does he want to test himself in an AQ conference?

Only Petersen knows the answer.