Yesterday the Jim Harbaugh watch was on with the Minnesota Vikings seemingly in hot pursuit of their next head coach to replace Mike Zimmer. The NFL world gasped late last night when discovering Harbaugh would not be taking his talents to the pros in pursuit of a Super Bowl ring, instead choosing to stay with the Michigan Wolverines for an eighth year as their head coach.
Some thought this meant Harbaugh had turned down the Vikings, possibly even using the organization as leverage to earn back some of the money he gave up prior to the 2021 season when he took a pay cut with Michigan. We’ve since learned it wasn’t Harbaugh playing the Vikings, it might have been the other way around.
With reports, even from Jim’s brother John stating Harbaugh was ready to return to the NFL, and if the Vikings were smart enough, a deal could get done. Well, it turns out, the Vikings weren’t smart enough, John.
In fact, the Wilf ownership group and new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah never even extended an offer to Harbaugh during their nine-hour visit, which was the same process as the other three finalists.
Minnesota Vikings didn’t like the fit of Jim Harbaugh
Instead, the Vikings reportedly had an issue with how Harbaugh fit their plans. No, they didn’t have an issue with Harbaugh’s trademark khakis, but it’s no secret, he’s possibly not all that different than Zim in the sense that he can be a bit hard on his players, demanding at times.
But that’s not the specific reasoning being given. In fact, there isn’t an official reasoning other than the front office, and possibly ownership not seeing eye-to-eye with Harbaugh.
Whether it’s simply a matter of Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings’ reported choice to become their next head coach, winning the team over, or another factor altogether, Jim Harbaugh won’t be coaching the team in purple in 2022, despite some previous reports suggesting otherwise.
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Though Chad Graff and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic seem to suggest it wasn’t really Harbaugh’s fault, the team may have already had their minds made up before the meeting occurred.
They noted O’Connell “blew them away” in the interview process, rapidly becoming the frontrunner as they look to go away from the old methods of Zim and into a new regime that promotes leadership, collaboration and communication from the top down.
Vikings fans will have a hard time wiping this pursuit from their memories as the Adofo-Mensah, O’Connell regime gets underway. There will always be a “what if” question that remains in the back of their heads, especially if the Wilf’s self-reported championship demands are not met.
We’ll see who gets the last laugh in the end. It seems asinine for an NFL organization not to have interest in a coach as proven as Harbaugh, instead choosing the unproven product in the 36-year old O’Connell, but he seems to have truly won this coaching competition from the start. It just may be that they made the right choice, but the pressure to win will be on.