Rent-a-Coach

Mortimer called Teddy last night. Mort was still on cloud nine after his Cardinal put a massive whuppin’ on Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. “In 2006, Stanford wallowed in the bottom with a 1-11 record. Then we hired Jim Harbaugh. 4-8, 5-7, 8-5, 12-1. Those are the Stanford season W-L records for the last four years. Quite a progression of improvement, don’t you think?”

“Truly amazing. Quite a story. But was it worth it?”

“Was what worth it, Teddy?”

“Was it worth renting a coach for four years? Harbaugh will be somewhere other than Palo Alto next season.”

“I hope the new 49’ers’ GM is smart enough and savvy enough to hire him. My biggest fear is that old curmudgeon across the bay hires him instead.”

“There’s no way Harbaugh is going to the Raiders, Mort. He isn’t that stupid. Besides, I asked you a question. Was it worth renting a coach for four years?”

“What are you up to, Teddy?”

“You know Harbaugh is leaving. There is a good chance that you knew from the beginning he wouldn’t be at Stanford long-term, one way or another. Even though he played his high school ball in Palo Alto, he wasn’t really going home when he took the Cardinal job. He’s a Michigan alum, a Michigan legend. He’s either going to replace Rodriguez or he’ll go for the massive NFL payday. So, was the steep, short curve to success – a top-5 final ranking and the best Stanford record ever – was that worth hiring a coach that would up and leave right from the mountaintop?”

“Well, Teddy, I’ll say this. Stanford has had great football teams, but they are rather few and far between. So, yes, it was worth it to have another great team. But I don’t think the question is as appropriate for me and my Stanford Cardinal as it is for you and your Tennessee Vols. It’s the Vols that are the football school, not Stanford. Football is important to the people of Tennessee. Really important. Stanford? It’s just a diversion. So let me pose your own question to you.”

Teddy instantly knew why Mort was a law professor – he continued to surprise with logical, 180-degree turnarounds.

“Let’s say the Vols could hire a different coach right now. Right now. And, it was guaranteed that in four years, in 2014, Tennessee would go 12-1 and win the SEC Championship. And, it was guaranteed that the coach would up and leave for another coaching job right after the last game that year, meaning that your coach that took you to the top, with the promise of more championships, would be replaced by an unknown quantity, and the possibility of a downward slide. Teddy, would you sell your soul to the devil for that big 2014 season, knowing that giant upheaval would follow?”

Mort took those lawyer reading glasses off and put one of the ends into the corner of his mouth and leaned way back in his office chair.

“Teddy, would you rent that coach? Or is the “final destination” myth still that important? What would you do?”

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