Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti thinks Stanford should be pursuing Boise State's Chris Petersen for its coaching vacancy. But he wouldn't mind if they pursued him, either.
"Certainly, if there is interest in Stanford's part, I would talk with them," said Bellotti, an ESPN college football analyst who turned Oregon into a national power in 14 years as head coach before resigning after the 2008 season.
The latest development Sunday underscores how the Stanford job has become high profile in the four years former coach Jim Harbaugh took to change the Cardinal's football fortunes. The team just completed a 12-1 season with a 40-12 triumph over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl last week.
Bellotti, who grew up in Concord, told the Mercury News he has had no contact with Stanford officials about the opening following Harbaugh's departure to the 49ers.
"I never rule anything out," he added. "That's about as much as I could say."
Bellotti also endorsed Petersen while talking to reporters on the eve of the national championship game featuring Oregon and Auburn in Glendale, Ariz.
"If I worked at Stanford, I'd go after Chris Petersen," he said.
Petersen, 46, coached with Bellotti at Oregon in 1995-2000. Bellotti suggested Petersen might be interested after losing his defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator in successive years. Bryan Harsin accepted a job as co-offensive coordinator at Texas on Friday.
Petersen has a 61-5 record in five years at Boise, which dominated the Western Athletic Conference. The Broncos are moving to the more competitive Mountain West Conference next season.
Petersen, who grew up in Northern California, played quarterback at UC Davis from 1983-86. Bellotti played at Davis from 1970-73, then coached at Cal State Hayward (now Cal State East Bay), Weber State and Chico State before becoming Oregon's offensive coordinator in 1989. He also served as the Ducks' athletic director before being hired by ESPN in March.
"I think Stanford is a great job, certainly now because its athletics can match its academics," Bellotti said. "It takes a little bit different read to recognize what are the pluses and minuses of the Stanford experience. But I've certainly been around it my entire life."
Stanford officials have declined to comment about the coaching search. In-house candidates are Vic Fangio, Greg Roman and David Shaw, members of Harbaugh's staff last season.
Bellotti, 60, said Stanford has become a destination because of its recent success and quarterback Andrew Luck, a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2010.
"Whoever comes in is going to want to sustain that or improve it, whether it is possible," he said. "Somebody is going to get to coach a great quarterback."
But he added there is more to the Cardinal than Luck. "From a coaching standpoint, an execution standpoint and an energy standpoint, it was a lot of fun to watch the Stanford team."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.