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Keeping You In The Game

Jim Harbaugh back in the NFL

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Current Events |

Coach Jim Harbaugh apparently has had enough of college football, at least for the moment, when he took a job as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Harbaugh ended his tenure as University of  Michigan’s head Coach with a College Football National Championship. It culminated in a nine-year stint leading his college alma mater’s football team. Of course, the championship run was not without its off-field challenges – Harbaugh and his coaching staff ran afoul of some NCAA rules (sign stealing and false statements over recruiting during the pandemic) and served two suspensions amounting to half the regular season.

The Chargers hiring ends rumors that attached Harbaugh with every open head coach position (he also interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons). Harbaugh beat out 14 other candidates in Los Angeles to land the job. As with Michigan, where Harbaugh played quarterback, the coach returns to a team where he was a player – he played the 1999 and 2000 seasons with the Chargers before retiring in 2001 after a 14-year NFL career.

Will he have success?

While he won a college championship in 2024, Harbaugh has also had much success in the NFL as a coach. One notable highlight was losing the Super Bowl as the 49ers’ head coach in 2013 to his brother, John Harbaugh, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

His time with the Wolverines aimed to bring the storied program back to elite status. Finishing last in their division, the Chargers are also a rebuild project – the team went 5-12, and ownership fired head coach Brandon Staley after a nasty 63-21 beating by the mediocre Las Vegas Raiders with three games left in the season. The Chargers do have quarterback Justin Herbert, which is a good start.

Brother John Harbaugh was interviewed by Sports Illustrated before the Chargers hire and wasn’t worried as he discussed his brother’s chances of winning again in the NFL:

“He may be the best team builder in football right now,” said John. “Nobody builds a team better. He knows how to put it together, top to bottom. He knows how to include people, he knows how to make them part of it, he knows how to empower people.”

Niners chief executive Jed York, Jim Harbaugh’s former boss when he was with the team, also expressed optimism for the Chargers to succeed, saying: “I think Jim is a hell of a coach.”

Pete Carroll successfully exited from USC in 2010 amid charges of NCAA rules violations to coach the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances with one win over a great 14-year run that ended in 2023. Harbaugh will write his story, but he would likely take Carroll’s successful transition in a heartbeat.