NFL

Michigan Wolverines Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Open to NFL Return

Oct 24, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh looks on during pre game warmups before a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh – the king of khakis – might be bringing his style back to the NFL in the near future. With many teams in need of coaching, the Michigan man could rejoin his older brother on the big stage.

Michigan Woes

Harbaugh is already in his sixth season at Michigan, but things aren’t quite working out as most people hoped. The coach has yet to defeat Ohio State or reach the College Football Playoff. Every year, Harbaugh’s Wolverines seem to disappoint. In fact, just two weeks into their season, Michigan seems to be following the same story as years past. After defeating Minnesota on the road to open the season, Michigan was upset by its rival, Michigan State, last week.

NFL Rumors

With NFL coaching jobs poised to open soon, Harbaugh could make the jump back to pro football this year or next. That’s the pulse around some of the NFL, at least. Per Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, “buzz is filtering through NFL front offices that Harbaugh is open to returning to the league.” Some experts see a return as very possible. In the words of NBC Sports Bay Area’s Donte Whitner, “If Jim Harbaugh is available and he’s willing to coach in the NFL, I’m 1,000% positive there will be a market for him.” It’s worth mentioning that Whitmer played safety for Harbaugh’s 49ers in 2011.

Others, however, raise doubts. Thamel notes that one source told him, “I just don’t hear [Harbaugh’s] name out there anywhere…I would be surprised if it happens.” Plus, Thamel reports another that executive is concerned that “[Harbaugh] can’t quite get it fixed there at Michigan.”

Harbaugh’s NFL History

Jim Harbaugh last coached in the NFL in 2014. Through four years with Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers put together two NFC West Championships and three straight playoff appearances. In those seasons, the team had a combined record of 44-19-1. They even reached the Super Bowl once – in 2012. He lost that game to his brother John and the Ravens in the infamous “Blackout Bowl.” In Harbaugh’s final season, the Niners went 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

This isn’t the first time Harbaugh rumors have come up; the New York Jets were reportedly interested in him in 2018 before hiring Adam Gase. It’s safe to say that Gase isn’t quite panning out for the Jets.

Buy or Sell?

It’s definitely possible that a team goes after Harbaugh, especially given his experience and past success. It may be difficult to overlook his struggles in the Big Ten, though. But in weighing candidates, a team could easily find Harbaugh to be a solid option. To contradict Thamel’s anonymous source, seeing Harbaugh back in the league would not be surprising. If he can lead Michigan to a Big Ten Championship, or even just beat the Buckeyes, his resumé will look even more compelling.

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