Q+A with Stanford Sites Rule Of Tree and Go Mighty Card

Yes, that's right.  Sites.  We don't just have one Stanford fansite now.  We have two.  At least.  There might be more out there that we are not aware of.

First, we have our SBN brethren Rule Of Tree. They are new to this fine world of fanbloggery, so be nice over there.  We sent them some great questions and they had a lot of great answers.

But we're not done!  No, read this post within the next 20 seconds and you'll get not only 1 Q+A, you'll get 2 Q+As for the price of 1!  Wow, what an amazing deal!  Yes, you'll also get to read a Q+A with the Cardinal site, Go Mighty Card

So, there you go.  Many thanks to Rule Of Tree and Go Mighty Card for their awesomeness on their answers.  Lots of information on Harbaugh's boys after the jump.  GO BEARS!

 

First up, Rule Of Tree.

1. How likely is it that Andrew Luck departs for the NFL after the end of the season?  Who is his backup and do you think he can effectively take the reins next season?



Sadly, I think it's very likely that Luck is taking his lumps as a rookie QB in Buffalo or Charlotte come this time next season. While Stanford fans would love to see him return, his head coach says he's NFL-ready and $50 million is a lot of money to turn down. From that perspective, it seems almost foolish to return. See: Locker, Jake. Alex Loukas, a junior who missed all of last season with a knee injury, beat out a pair of freshmen to win the backup role during training camp. I imagine there would be an open competition for the starting role next spring. There will be a dropoff at the QB position if Luck leaves, but I think there's enough talent on the team to make Stanford a competitive team for years to come. I was concerned that the Cardinal would struggle without Toby Gerhart, and yet, the running game has been terrific and the offense is even better than last season. A lot of that is because of Luck, but Stanford isn't a one-man band.



2. How much longer do you think Harbaugh will stay at Stanford?


For as long as Rich Rodriguez stays at Michigan. I don't think Harbaugh would leave Stanford for any other place but Ann Arbor, at least within the college ranks. An NFL offer would be tough to pass up, especially if he had an opportunity to coach Luck. I was going crazy when Harbaugh was linked to the Notre Dame vacancy, and it saddens me to think he may not be at Stanford for much longer. I'm not a Rich Rod fan--who is?--but go Blue!



3. What's been happening with attendance this season?  The high profile matchup against Arizona a couple weeks ago wasn't even close to selling out.



Yeah, it's disappointing. We've covered the attendance problem in some detail on Rule of Tree and the general consensus seems to be that it'll take a few more good years to undo the misery that was the Teevens-Harris era and start attracting local non-alumni to games again. The Stanford student section has been packed, but the attendance as a whole has been pretty poor.


4. What is the Stanford running game looking like with Gerhart at the NFL?



Toby who? I'm kidding, of course, but Stanford's running game hasn't really skipped a beat without the Heisman runner-up. The Cardinal ranks second in the Pac-10 behind Oregon and 17th in the nation with 213 rushing yards per game. Led by Stepfan Taylor, who had a streak of five consecutive 100-yard games earlier this season, Stanford's stable of backs has the luxury of running behind the Pac-10's most dominant offensive line. In addition to Taylor, freshman Anthony Wilkerson has come on strong in the past two games. Of Stanford's running backs, Wilkerson has the greatest star potential. Look for him and Taylor to split carries on Saturday.



5. Predict a score.

 



Stanford 24, Cal 13. Interceptions by Mike Mohamed: 1. Interceptions thrown by Brock Mansion: More than that.




6.  Be honest.  What's the deal with the Tree?  And what's the deal with your band?  You're embarrassed.  Admit it.  There are some of the nation's best musicians at your school, and that's the best you can do? 



I don't even know what to say to that, so I'll quote a former Tree quoting Notorious B.I.G.: "Birthdays were the worst days, now we sip champagne when we're thirstay." That's the deal with the Tree. And this is music to a Stanford fan's ears.


7.  What's the deal with Harbaugh's sideline antics?  Are the rumors of him being a jerk to everyone and firing low-level staff on a whim true?  Is this a case where the end (having a jerk and attention-monger represent you) justifies the mean?  (yeah, your team is good)



I haven't heard those rumors, but I seriously doubt they're true. I mean, he might make the low-level staff clean his private luxury bathroom for talking out of turn or suggesting that he go for one when he feels like going for two, but firing them? Come on. Harbaugh preaches character and cruelty. Where's the character in that? I've never thought of Harbaugh as an attention-monger, which must mean I'm really biased. Fine, but I honestly don't think I would despise him as much as I despise Pete Carroll or Lane Kiffin if I weren't a Stanford fan. In fact, I'd probably wish my own team's coach were more like him. Let's just say I'm glad Harbaugh's on our side.


8.  What's your deal?



Character and cruelty, brother. Character and cruelty.

 

 

Great stuff!  And more great stuff, this time from Go Mighty Card:

 

1. How likely is it that Andrew Luck departs for the NFL after the end of the season?  Who is his backup and do you think he can effectively take the reins next season?


1. Obviously, I'd love to see Andrew Luck return for another year, win the Heisman, and lead the team to a national championship (and by the way, I can't imagine ever typing a sentence like that about Stanford football even two years ago), but I'm not sure how likely that is.  I clearly don't have any inside information, but here are the facts.  Depending on which team ends up at the top of the NFL draft, he could be the first player selected.  Even if he isn't, he won't fall out of the top five or ten, so he has the potential to be a very rich man five months from now.  If he were my son, I'd advise him to follow his dream and go to the NFL.  If that happens, it will be interesting to see who takes his place.  Alex Loukas is the back up right now, but we haven't seen enough of him to really have an idea of how good he might be.  He's incredibly athletic, and Harbaugh manages to sneak him in once or twice a game, almost always to run the ball.  Last week, for instance, he lined up in the backfield behind Luck.  Luck then went in motion out to a wide receiver spot, leaving Loukas in a wildcat look.  Not surprisingly, Harbaugh has been able to use his NFL pedigree to recruit talented quarterbacks.  Waiting in the wings right now is redshirt Brett Nottingham, a four-star recruit and the fourth-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country last year.  We might not see another Cardinal quarterback as talented as Andrew Luck for years to come, but there's definitely talent in the pipeline.


2. How much longer do you think Harbaugh will stay at Stanford?


2. You're definitely hitting all the sensitive issues.  Almost every time I talk to a fellow alum about the football team, this question comes up, and most people believe he'll be leaving sooner rather than later.  The optimist in me wants to believe that rather than heading off to Ann Arbor to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Harbaugh will instead stay at Stanford and attempt to emulate Bo Schembechler by signing a long-term contract and building a program to rival Michigan's.  After all, he has shown that it is clearly possible to win a national championship at Stanford, and what would be more impressive, winning a title at Michigan or winning one at Stanford?  The reality, though, is that this isn't likely.  He's woefully underpaid at Stanford, and the NFL will surely be calling.  (I don't really worry about losing him to another college program anymore.)  My biggest fear is the San Francisco 49ers.  They could offer him three or four times his current salary, and he wouldn't even have to relocate.  If that job is offered this winter, I bet he takes it.

3. What's been happening with attendance this season?  The high profile matchup against Arizona a couple weeks ago wasn't even close to selling out.


3. Ah, the attendance question.  Now you've covered all the bases.  There are two things going on here.  First, the fan base is incredibly small.  If you consider that each undergraduate class is roughly 1,500 students and assume that less than half of those students will become football fans, then you realize that only five or six hundred new Stanford fans are released into the world each year.  Also, because Stanford draws students from all across the country, Stanford graduates tend to disperse all across the country, further depleting the fan base.  The second thing is that the team was historically bad during this past decade, bad enough that even the success of last year and this haven't yet been able to heal the wounds.  It will take a while for enough momentum to build so that more students come to games and more people from the community become fans.  The bad news, though, is that there are real consequences to this apathy.  When Harbaugh was at Michigan, he never played in front of a crowd smaller than 100,000, so the empty seats might help push him out the door.  Also, there's been a lot of discussion in the past few weeks about the idea that a deserving team might not get a BCS invitation because places like the Sugar Bowl or the Orange Bowl might prefer a lower-ranked team with fans who will travel.  And that would really suck.

 


4. What is the Stanford running game looking like with Gerhart at the NFL?


4. Finally, a question I like.  Toby Gerhart was a great back, no question, but he benefitted tremendously from running behind the best offensive line in the conference.  Almost all of that line returned intact, so hasn't been surprising that the running game has continued to be dominant.  Statistically speaking, the team hasn't lost anything from last year to this.  Sophomore Stepfan Taylor is the leading rusher.  Earlier this season he put together a string of five straight one hundred yard games, and when Arizona halted the streak he still managed to score four touchdowns.  Most Stanford watchers, though, will tell you that the running back of the future is true freshman Anthony Wilkerson.  In fact, I'd say he should be the running back of the present.  You'll see a lot of him on Saturday, though not as much as I'd like.

 

5. Predict a score.


5. If this game were being played at Stanford Stadium, I think it might be a blowout for the Cardinal.  But since Cal has been a completely different team at home, I'm thinking it might be closer.  One of the strengths of Jim Harbaugh's coaching staff this year has been their ability to respond to poor outings and fix any problems before the next game.  I still don't understand how Arizona State held this Stanford offense to 17 points, but I'm guessing that Harbaugh has figured it out.  Even though the Cal defense showed last week that it can handle a high-octane offense, the Stanford offense is a bit different.  Not better, but different.  I think the offensive line will wear down the Cal front seven and Stanford will dominate the second half, cruising to a 31-14 win.

 



6.  Be honest.  What's the deal with the Tree?  And what's the deal with your band?  You're embarrassed.  Admit it.  There are some of the nation's best musicians at your school, and that's the best you can do? 


6. I'm not really sure if I follow your line of questioning here.  The Tree is a fearsome college mascot along the lines of Auburn's War Eagle, LSU's bengal tiger, and USC's Traveller.  It never really occurred to me that anyone saw the Tree any differently.  As for the band, I think you hit the nail on the head when you referred to them as "some of the nation's best musicians."  That's actually how I usually hear people refer to them.

 

7.  What's the deal with Harbaugh's sideline antics?  Are the rumors of him being a jerk to everyone and firing low-level staff on a whim true?  Is this a case where the end (having a jerk and attention-monger represent you) justifies the mean?  (yeah, your team is good)


7. First of all, jealousy doesn't look good on you.  Even though I haven't heard of any of the firings you describe, that doesn't mean they didn't happen, only that I'm not award of them.  I don't think you'll be able to find any Stanford fan -- or any objective person, for that matter -- who will have anything but positive things to say about Harbaugh.  Let's examine the facts.  He took over a time that was 1-11, a team that was quite possibly the worst in Stanford history.  Since then he's completely reshaped the program, and things have happened that I would never have thought possible.  He had a running back who narrowly missed winning the Heisman Trophy; he has recruited and tutored the best quarterback in the nation, a player who will likely be a Heisman finalist; he created one of the best offenses in college football; he currently has the Cardinal ranked #6 in the BCS poll, and a scenario even exists in which Stanford could play for the national championship this season; and he has convinced blue chip recruits to come to Stanford, building the talent level of the program each year. If there is one criticism, it's that he doesn't seem to care about Big Game as much as some of the alumni would like.  (Oregon's Chip Kelly has actually dismissed the importance of their Civil War, saying that the Ducks play twelve rivalry games each year.)  Also, Harbaugh is only 1-2 against Cal, and there are those (myself included) who feel like his play calling in last year's Big Game cost the Axe, a higher level bowl game, and a Heisman Trophy for Toby Gerhart.  But even with all that, there's no one else that I would rather see coaching at Stanford University.

 

8.  What's your deal?



8.  Nothing.  What's your deal?

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