A Pro Atmosphere at the Orange Bowl – New York Times

It was hard to miss all of the N.F.L. types drooling over Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Andrew Luck. Everyone assumes they are both gone — a band led by ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski — with Harbaugh to have multiple job offers from which to choose and Luck all but assured to be the No. 1 draft pick should he forgo his senior season. In victory, Luck showed just why Carolina is desperately hoping he does that, writes Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer, and proved he is definitely N.F.L. ready, writes Mike Freeman on CBSSports.com.

Harbaugh did an excellent job of coaching with all the heavy breathing going on around him — the new Broncos guru and Stanford alumnus John Elway was even lurking on his sideline, with everyone understanding the Broncos have fantasies of a Holy Stanford Trinity — but did not do as well dancing around the obvious questions once the Cardinal had dispatched Virginia Tech, writes David Whitley on Fanhouse.com. San Francisco is reportedly trading elbows with Denver to be first in line to woo Harbaugh, which could also offer him the added bonus that he would not have to move and pony up any real estate commissions. Then there’s the possibility, as detailed by The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel’s Dave Hyde, that the Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross, could be courting him should he fire Coach Tony Sparano, or may be lining him up for his (and Harbaugh’s) alma mater, Michigan.

That would not be the weirdest thing to happen on the coaching carousel, which is in full spin despite the relative calm of what is usually called Black Monday. As Clark Judge writes on CBSSports.com, it was more like Cloudy Monday, with Cleveland providing the only firing of the day. And frankly, Eric Mangini had probably already packed. General Manager Mike Holmgren created the day’s awkward moment by almost definitively/sort of/perhaps/most likely ruling himself out as the Browns’ next coach. But there were lots of awkward moments to come, like all of Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher’s news conference, in which he made his case not to be whacked despite his massive disagreement with the owner Bud Adams over the value of Vince Young. Awkward would be a kind term for every minute of the last 11 years for Oakland Raiders coaches, so Tom Cable’s current limbo fits right into the pattern, writes Don Banks on SI.com.

Those situations will continue to tip the drama meter all week, while the actual good teams in the N.F.L. (and Seattle) go about preparing for the playoffs. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how good the Eagles are, Coach Andy Reid is right there with you, writes Rich Hofmann in The Philadelphia Daily News. Meanwhile, Jason Whitlock of Foxsports.com is sure of one thing about the Kansas City Chiefs — that their success is overwhelmingly a credit to General Manager Scott Pioli and not Coach Todd Haley.

While American fans fixate on such things, our neighbors to the north are ready to regale you with details of Canada’s earth-shaking (well, O.K., Canada-shaking) victory over the United States in the world junior men’s hockey tournament. One disliked rival dispatched, Canada now turns its flag-waving toward finals opponent Russia, writes Brian Cazeneuve in SI.com. In the N.H.L., everyone paused to consider the mind-boggling news that New Jersey is making Martin Brodeur a part-time goalie. Others are busy snickering about the unusual nature of Jonathan Toews’s game-winning goal for Chicago over Los Angeles.

If you prefer just to smile, go ahead and read about the amazing year of Ike Ditzenberger, the Seattle area high schooler whose inspiring touchdown run has made him a local (and YouTube) celebrity. Turns out, everybody does like Ike, a 17-year-old with Down syndrome and diabetes.

He might even be more popular than Jim Harbaugh.

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 4, 2011

An earlier version of this article linked to a San Francisco Chronicle story that incorrectly stated that the Stanford band was banned from the Orange Bowl halftime show.

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