Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is one of the top NFL coaching candidates in 2023 with several teams expected to pursue him. However, he might be out of the running for one job based on his behavior in an interview last offseason.
Harbaugh, who has repeatedly downplayed his interest in an NFL return, is expected to interview with the Denver Broncos this week, according to NFL Network. He is also reportedly a top target for the Indianapolis Colts, with owner Jim Irsay extremely interested in bringing Harbaugh back to the organization.
The 59-year-old coach also spoke to the Carolina Panthers, per Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. However, those talks reportedly didn’t amount to anything substantial and Carolina is expected to pursue other candidates.
While it seems odd that an NFL team seeking an experienced coach with an offensive pedigree would look past Harbaugh, there might now be an explanation.
According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, Harbaugh repeatedly reached out to Carolina regarding its head-coaching vacancy and eventually spoke with owner David Tepper over the phone. However, Tepper is reportedly “wary” about what happened last offseason.
Harbaugh interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2022, seemingly becoming a finalist to replace Mike Zimmer as head coach. However, per Jones, Harbaugh reportedly displayed “odd” behavior throughout his interview with Vikings’ officials and the team hired Kevin O’Connell.
- Jim Harbaugh record (Michigan Wolverines): 74-25
Evaluating the future for Jim Harbaugh
While Harbaugh was extremely successful as the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach, he developed a reputation for irking prominent officials within the front office. Reports also surfaced during the 2014 season that he started losing the 49ers’ locker room, with his abrasive personality eventually causing both sides to split.
Carolina’s interim coach Steve Wilks is gaining support to have the tag removed in 2023, with the locker room in overwhelming support of him staying. While Tepper will cast a wide net to find his next head coach, replacing Wilks with Harbaugh might prove to be disruptive to the locker room.
Even with the Panthers out of the running, there are other opportunities for Harbaugh. The Broncos are willing to spend whatever it takes to land their top candidate and Irsay’s history with Harbaugh makes landing with the Colts a realistic possibility.
Harbaugh is leaving the door open to staying at Michigan, under specific circumstances. After landing a contract extension in 2022, the Wolverines’ coach could use his NFL suitors as leverage to become one of the highest-paid college football coaches in 2023.