Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh could be seeing yet another round of NFL interest after the No. 2 Wolverines’ season concluded with Saturday night’s 51-45 loss to No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal. According to NFL.com, the Denver Broncos are among the teams that are “doing homework” on Harbaugh as a potential candidate to fill their coaching vacancy.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero noted in their report that the Broncos are “one of multiple teams” that have been looking into the potential of trying to lure Harbaugh back to the NFL, where he was 44-19-1 as the San Francisco 49ers coach from 2011-14. The Broncos were singled out in part because of the connections between Harbaugh and Condoleeza Rice, who is a member of the team’s ownership and part of the search committee to replace Nathaniel Hackett. Rice is also a prominent part of the university community at Stanford, where Jim Harbaugh was coach prior to his move to the NFL.
Harbaugh, who has a 74-25 record in eight seasons at his alma mater, interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings last season after leading Michigan to its first Big Ten title since Lloyd Carr and the program’s first-ever CFP appearance, but in reaffirming his commitment to the Wolverines he declared that NFL flirtations would not be a recurring theme every year. He told the Detroit Free Press it was a “one-time thing” and though he was intrigued by the prospects of chasing a Super Bowl he was also enthusiastic about pursuing a national championship with the Wolverines. Though Harbaugh himself did not offer details on the dealings with Minnesota, multiple reports indicated that Harbaugh was not offered the job and the franchise eventually hired Kevin O’Connell as its coach.
Now Harbaugh’s “one-time thing” claim will apparently be put to the test if any of these franchises doing their homework decide to engage the Michigan coach in their coaching search.