Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh looking at returning to the NFL

By Vincent Frank
Nov 30, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Now in his sixth season as the Michigan Wolverines head football coach, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Jim Harbaugh might very well be looking at other options moving forward. That includes a potential return to the NFL.

Michigan sits at 2-4 during a truncated 2020 college football season. The program has been a complete mess over the past several years, primarily an inability to compete with its hated rivals in that of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This has led to speculation that the enigmatic Harbaugh could soon be done in Ann Arbor. That could now return to Harbaugh returning to the NFL.

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Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL?

“There’s a growing belief that he won’t be back for a seventh season, perhaps choosing to walk away before they make him run. Per multiple sources, Harbaugh is believed to be eyeing a return to the NFL, as a head coach,” Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported. “Another source said that teams are doing their homework on Harbaugh, who instantly took the 49ers to the NFC Championship and who nearly led the team to a Super Bowl win in his second season with the team.”

On the surface, Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL makes sense. He enjoyed a tremendous four-year stay with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14, posting a 44-19-1 record while leading the team to three consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl.

With that said, Harbaugh’s inability to return the Wolverines to national prominence in addition to his oft-criticized personality have reportedly turned NFL teams off.

Jim Harbaugh coaching record at Michigan

  • 2015: 10-3 (won Citrus Bowl)
  • 2016: 10-3 (lost Orange Bowl)
  • 2017: 8-5 (lost Outback Bowl)
  • 2018: 10-3 (lost Peach Bowl)
  • 2019: 9-4 (lost Citrus Bowl)
  • 2020: 2-4

Three 10-win seasons wouldn’t normally be something to scoff at. Even then, Michigan isn’t going to be content with that. It’s also important to note that Jim Harbaugh has yet to win a game against Ohio State heading into their 2020 matchup next week.

NFL teams that might be interested in Jim Harbaugh

Could Michigan Wolverines HC Jim Harbaugh return to NFL?
Jan 1, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh (right) leads his team onto the field prior to the 2020 VRBO Citrus Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Having gone to school in Michigan, it’s obvious Harbaugh would be linked to the Detroit Lions’ opening after they fired Matt Patricia. However, another high-profile assistant around the NFL has received interest from Detroit.

Following the firing of Bill O’Brien, the Houston Texans could potentially show interest in Harbaugh. He’s seen as an offensive mind that has worked well with quarterbacks in the past (see: Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick).

Related: Candidates to become Texans’ next head coach

As for the other current opening, the Atlanta Falcons might also show interest. Matt Ryan could push for them to hire Jim Harbaugh.

Regardless of this, Harbaugh being interested in returning to the NFL won’t necessarily equate to teams showing interest. There’s a chance that ship has sailed. Time will tell on this front.

For now, the biggest Jim Harbaugh related story is his status with the Michigan Wolverines. An ugly showing against Ohio State might close the books on Harbaugh in Ann Arbor.