Jim Harbaugh to meet with Chargers next week about head coach vacancy, AP source says

Posted at 1:55 PM, Jan 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-14 13:55:12-05

The Jim Harbaugh derby for NFL teams is about to heat up.

A week after leading the University of Michigan to a national title in the College Football Playoff, Harbaugh will meet with the Los Angeles Chargers about their head coach vacancy this week, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Sunday because the person wasn't at liberty to publicly discuss personnel moves.

Besides the Chargers, Atlanta, Carolina, Las Vegas, Seattle, Tennessee and Washington have openings.

Harbaugh, who previously coached in the NFL, has a prior relationship with the Chargers and the Spanos family that owns it. He played for the Bolts in 1999-2000 before retiring after the 2001 season.

The Chargers are looking for a new coach and general manager after Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco were fired on Dec. 15, a day after a 63-21 loss in Las Vegas to the Raiders.

When asked about possible interest in the NFL and then about the Chargers during an availability at Disneyland before the Rose Bowl on Dec. 27, Harbaugh gave the same answer to both questions.

"Such a one-track mind. That's the way we're going about things. Literally, whatever day we're in, looking to get the most out of it, dominate the day, then we're going to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow and see if we can't dominate that day," he said. "It's a single-minded group. Just very focused on taking care of business today and see if we can't do the same tomorrow."

Harbaugh has spent the last week decompressing after the Wolverines beat Washington 34-13 last Monday. Michigan held a parade and ceremony to celebrate its national title on Saturday.

The 60-year old Harbaugh has been at Michigan for nine seasons and has a 86-25 record. Harbaugh's tenure at his alma mater is longer than most people expected when he was hired in 2015. He was at San Diego University for three seasons (2004-06), Stanford for four (2007-10) and the San Francisco 49ers for four (2010-2014).

Harbaugh was offered a 10-year, $125 million contact by Michigan that included a clause that he could not entertain NFL offers this offseason.

To prepare for a possible NFL return, Harbaugh recently hired Don Yee as his new agent. Yee is known for his representation of another famous Michigan quarterback — seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady — but the Pasadena-based agent also represents Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton, who was the most sought-after coaching free agent last year.

Harbaugh has not hid his ambitions about a possible return to the NFL. He led the 49ers to a 44-19-1 record and an appearance in Super Bowl 47, where the Niners lost to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his brother, John.

Harbaugh has had NFL flirtations the past two years. He interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings two years ago and had discussions with the Broncos and Carolina Panthers last year.

Despite leading Michigan to its first national title since 1997, it was a frustrating year for Harbaugh. He was suspended for the first three games by the NCAA for a Level I violation because the association concluded he misled investigators.

Harbaugh then was suspended for the final three regular-season games by the Big Ten for violating the conference's sportsmanship policy over alleged sign-stealing.

Michigan has received a notice of allegations for Level II NCAA violations over recruiting during the pandemic.

The Chargers have conducted six interviews about its vacancy. They interviewed interim coach Giff Smith and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore on Tuesday, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham on Thursday and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken on Friday. On Saturday, they interviewed two defensive coordinators — San Francisco's Steve Wilks and Baltimore's Mike Macdonald.

Even though Monken, Wilks and Macdonald are part of playoff teams, they were allowed to interview virtually under the league's revised policy for head coach interviews since their teams are off this week because they are the top seeds in their respective conferences.