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Reports: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh drawing heavy NFL interest

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh against the TCU Horned Frogs in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At least three NFL teams have included Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh on their list of head coach candidates in the upcoming hiring cycle, ESPN reported Monday.

The Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers all are planning to discuss their vacancy with Harbaugh, according to the report.

NFL Network reported Sunday that the Broncos are “doing their homework” on Harbaugh. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, is part of the Broncos’ ownership group and a member of the search committee and has deep ties to Stanford, where Harbaugh coached from 2007-10 before moving on to the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14) and the Wolverines.

Denver general manager George Paton previously worked for the Vikings, who had two interviews with Harbaugh last offseason before hiring Kevin O’Connell.

Upon ending talks with the Vikings last February, Harbaugh said he told Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel that he would not revisit coaching in the NFL again.

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers before returning to the college ranks at his alma mater, Michigan. Harbaugh led the Wolverines to back-to-back Big Ten championships this season and a second consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Michigan’s season ended on New Year’s Eve in a 51-45 loss to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Colts are 4-11-1 and owner Jim Irsay is not expected to retain interim head coach Jeff Saturday.

Harbaugh, 59, is familiar with the Colts, having played quarterback for the franchise during his pro career. His time in Indianapolis (1994-97) included a run to the AFC Championship game in the 1995 season, and his nickname “Captain Comeback” was born.

Carolina has shown improvement under interim coach Steve Wilks, but the Panthers are 6-10 and no longer in contention for the playoffs.

Wilks was promoted after Matt Rhule was fired by owner David Tepper, who said he was seeking a cultural reset for the franchise.

–Field Level Media