Harbaugh Will Leave UofM after 7 seasons
Senior Editor at TheWolverine.com, Chris Balas has reported that Jim Harbaugh becoming the next Minnesota Vikings’ Head Coach is a foregone conclusion. It is common knowledge at this point that Michigan Head Coach has been entertaining the idea of taking an NFL job, and in the last few days news broke that an interview between Harbaugh and Minnesota would take place on Wednesday, February 2nd. Balas’ report says that Jim is going into the meeting with the intent to sign a contract and that the interview is merely a formality. After leading Michigan to a win over Ohio State, a Big Ten Title, and to the College Football Playoff, Harbaugh will make his return to professional football.
Raiders… Bears… Dolphins… Vikings?
Jim posted a 44-19 record from 2011-2014 in his first stint as an NFL Head Coach. He spent all of his time with the San Francisco 49ers, leading them to the NFC championship game and winning AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2011. The next year, Harbaugh would take the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII and come up just short to his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens 31-34. Harbaugh has made it known that he has been interested in making a return to the NFL. Even to the point of letting a potential recruit’s pastor know that he was keeping his mind open to it. Many NFL teams have been associated with Harbaugh as a return destination. Like the Chicago Bears, where he played in the NFL, or the Las Vegas Raiders, a situation where both parties conveyed interest. The Miami Dolphins were considered a hot spot for a Harbaugh return until Owner Stephen Ross made it clear he would not poach Harbaugh from Michigan. Yet none of the aforementioned teams ever pulled the trigger or reached out in general, and it will allegedly be Minnesota who hires the polarizing head ball coach. The Vikings let go of Mike Zimmer after 8 seasons in early January. Many speculate that Aaron Rodger’s potential departure from the NFC North will open up the NFC North and the conference will virtually be up for grabs and Harbaugh’s to take. Playing the Bears, Lions, and Rodger-less Packers twice a year sounds a lot easier than a schedule in the Big Ten East. Maybe Harbaugh feels as though he has reached his ceiling at the University of Michigan and will never be able to compete with the talent or recruiting of the SEC. No matter what the reason, it seems as though the Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor has run its course.
What’s next for Michigan Football?
Two months removed from winning the Big Ten Championship Game over the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Michigan Wolverines will be on the search for a new Head Coach for its football program. Only time will tell how Harbaugh’s departure will affect current athletes in the roster, as well as both incoming and potential recruits. An internal hire like Josh Gattis or Mike Hart would help retain some players. Others like Bill O’Brien, Dave Aranda, and Luke Fickell have been mentioned as “names on a wishlist”. The stakes and challenges are high, but no names can be taken off the board with a brand like the block M. UofM AD Warde Manuel has stated that Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule is on his shortlist of targets to replace Harbaugh. Whoever takes over at the University of Michigan will inherit a hungry team coming off a CFP loss after one of their best seasons of all time. This will only add to the Michigan fan base’s loft expectations of Harbaugh’s successor. Jim finishes his career at Michigan with a record of 61-24 and a winning percentage of .742, the 6th highest of a UofM coach.