Jim Harbaugh, Ex-Wolverine

Jim Harbaugh, Ex-Wolverine

January 24, 2024
Jim Harbaugh (image via Chargers)

It was reported on Wednesday evening that head coach Jim Harbaugh is departing for the Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job. Harbaugh finished his career with the Chargers in 1999-2000, completing 58.5% of his passes for 4,177 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions.

Hit the jump for more.

Harbaugh was hired prior to the 2015 season to succeed Brady Hoke, who had started off 11-2 and slowly regressed to 5-7 before getting fired following the 2014 season. Some of Harbaugh’s accomplishments at Michigan:

  • 86-25 overall record
  • 60-17 conference record
  • 3 Big Ten Championships (2021-2023)
  • 1 national championship (2023)

Harbaugh takes over from former Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, who went 9-8, 10-7, and 5-9 the past three seasons before getting fired in the middle of 2023. The Chargers have a lot of good pieces in QB Justin Herbert, WR Keenan Allen, OT Rashawn Slater, DE Joey Bosa, OLB Khalil Mack, and S Derwin James, but they have salary cap issues for 2024 and beyond that could prove to be daunting. Harbaugh went 44-19 in the NFL from 2011-2014 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Harbaugh is likely to take defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and safeties coach Jay Harbaugh – who happens to be Jim’s son – to the NFL with him. There are mixed reports about strength coach Ben Herbert.

Most insiders are saying that offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Sherrone Moore will be named head coach as soon as possible, though Michigan state law says that public jobs must be posted for at least 7 days before being filled.

A 30-day window will open for players to enter the transfer portal. While most of the players seem to be behind Moore taking the job, it’s still a significant upheaval to change coaches, especially from a proven coach with NFL experience/ties to . . . a 37-year-old guy who has never put together a staff, faced significant public scrutiny, faced the true adversity of a losing streak as the head man, established a recruiting vision, etc.

As for Harbaugh’s decision, my personal thoughts are that Harbaugh did a great job for Michigan from day one. He won 10 games his first two seasons and averaged 9.4 wins a season from 2015-2019. When many fans and pundits were ready to fire him after the 2-4 season in 2020, I stood behind him and wanted him to remain. We had over a decade of him being a great coach at the college and NFL levels, and people wanted him gone because he went 2-4 in the midst of a pandemic when some of his best players (Nico Collins, Ambry Thomas, Jalen Mayfield, Ryan Hayes, Kwity Paye, Aidan Hutchinson, etc.) missed all or large parts of the season. Michigan probably wouldn’t have been great in 2023, either, if they lost their #1 receiver, #1 cornerback, #1 offensive lineman, #1 defensive lineman, #2 defensive lineman, and another quality offensive lineman . . . all while dealing with the distractions of a worldwide sickness that nobody really seemed to understand.

Michigan stuck with Harbaugh, and Harbaugh stuck with Michigan. I don’t need to recap the last three years any more than I already have. We all know the story by now. Harbaugh flipped the script against Ohio State, winning three in a row. He went to the College Football Playoff and lost to Georgia. He went to the CFP again and lost to TCU. Learning from those mistakes, he went to the CFP again in 2023 and beat all comers, knocking off powerhouse Alabama and upstart Washington.

Sam Webb has addressed Harbaugh’s situation and said Harbaugh had “parallel dreams.” He wanted to win a national championship at Michigan – something Bo Schembechler never did – and he wants to win a Super Bowl. You can’t win a Super Bowl at Michigan. He was very close in 2012 when the 49ers lost to his brother and the Baltimore Ravens.

We generally don’t begrudge juniors or redshirt sophomores who leave Michigan for the fame and riches of the NFL. It’s great when guys like Blake Corum, Zak Zinter, and Brandon Graham come back for their senior years, but it’s also understandable when guys like J.J. McCarthy, David Ojabo, and Charles Woodson leave with eligibility remaining. The frustrating times are when guys leave early for the NFL when they’re clearly not ready . . . but Harbaugh is ready.

The Lions will always be my #1 team. But just like when Tom Brady was leading the Patriots and then the Buccaneers, that made it easy to have a second favorite team. I’m going to keep an eye on where McCarthy and Corum end up, but there’s a pretty good chance that the Chargers will be my #2 in 2024.

Thanks to Coach Harbaugh for all the great memories over the past nine years.

Go Blue!

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