There are any number of ways I could've gone with this... The Waiting is the Hardest Part, Waiting for the Sun, Waiting in Vain...
But we're just waiting. All season long I wondered why people around the country weren't giving the Stanford Football program its proper respect, but in a lot of ways I'm guilty of the same thing. When I look at the University of Michigan as they emerge from the failed Rich Rodriguez experiment and enter into the Brady Hoke era, I don't for a second doubt that they'll return to prominence. They're Michigan. When I look south to the Swamp and the Florida Gators, I don't worry that they'll fade away without Urban Meyer at the helm. They're Florida. Within the Pac-12 there's USC, struggling under the yoke of NCAA sanctions that will keep them from bowl games and limit their scholarships, but I know they'll be a national power just as soon as they're finished serving their time. They're USC.
But I worry about the Mighty Card. Even without a head coach, Stanford keeps popping up in various preseason polls for 2011, thanks mostly to the return of Andrew Luck. The defense got better each week and returns a great deal of talent. Half of the players from the deep recruiting classes of 2009 and 2010 are yet to be heard from, and some potential 2011 signees are talented enough to contribute this coming fall. There's a lot to be excited about.
But I worry.
I worry that Jim Harbaugh will gut the coaching staff and take them to San Francisco. I worry especially about Vic Fangio, the Dark Lord of Defense, the man who turned one of the worst defensive teams in the country to one of the best in the space of twelve months. If he leaves, the defense could revert to the porous 2010 version. If offensive coordinator David Shaw leaves, Luck and the offense will have to learn a whole new playbook, and what could've been a national championship year will become a transition season.
I worry that Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby will choose poorly, and that the wrong candidate will waste the year that Andrew Luck has given us and plunge the program back into mediocrity.
I worry that the stellar recruiting class assembled by Harbaugh and his staff will slowly erode away, setting the program back even farther.
Hopefully something good will happen on Thursday to assuage all this angst.