Jim Harbaugh Rumors: Michigan Insiders Believe HC Would Take Raiders Job If Offered

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 20, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31: Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines on December 31, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl.  (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Some insiders within the Michigan football program believe head coach Jim Harbaugh would take the same position for the Las Vegas Raiders if offered, per Bruce Feldman of The Athletic:

"Multiple sources inside Michigan football told The Athletic this week that they think if Harbaugh is offered the Raiders head coaching job, he’d take it.
"They also know that Harbaugh can be hard to read. Their hunches could be wrong—but they also know he’s never coached anywhere longer than four years prior to his seven years and running in Ann Arbor. They've each believed that he, at some point, would want to coach in the NFL again."

Rich Bisaccia has led the Raiders on an interim basis after ex-head coach Jon Gruden resigned in October following the release of emails he sent that included racist, anti-gay and misogynistic comments.

Bisaccia guided the Raiders to a 7-5 regular-season finish that capped a 10-7 regular season. Las Vegas fell 26-19 to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Harbaugh just completed his seventh season as Michigan's head coach. He guided the Wolverines to a No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff, where they fell to eventual national champion Georgia in the semifinals.

Harbaugh ultimately led his alma mater to a 12-2 mark, and the team won the Big Ten outright for the first time since 2003.

Prior to his time coaching Michigan, Harbaugh led the San Francisco 49ers, who went 44-19-1 from 2011-2014 under the ex-NFL quarterback. The 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game each year from 2011-2013, winning it in 2012 before losing in the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens.

Harbaugh also coached at San Diego and Stanford before making the leap back to the NFL.

Rumors are swirling that Harbaugh is at least considering a move back to the pros, with Las Vegas getting the most buzz.

ESPN's Pete Thamel said the following Wednesday on SportsCenter, per Brad Crawford of 247Sports:

"I think right now it's early, but the safest thing we can say about Jim Harbaugh is he'll get a new deal this year. Whether that comes from Michigan or the NFL, the Raiders is the definition he'd be most likely to go in the NFL. He has a relationship with Mark Davis. Whether that bonds them together or make things more complicated remains to be seen.
"There is at least mutual interest and at least both are peeking at each other now. The Raiders still have to run a process and they need a GM, so there's nothing imminent in the upcoming days, but I do think both sides will feel each other out."

As Vic Tafur of The Athletic noted Tuesday, the Harbaugh-Raiders rumors have been going on for weeks. However, he also wrote that the rumors have come from sources outside Las Vegas, and some other sources threw some cold water on the idea that Harbaugh could bolt to the NFL.

"One person close to the situation in Michigan said Tuesday that the rumors could all be 'hypothetical leverage' for Harbaugh’s contract talks with the university," Tafur wrote. "One well-placed NFL source was stronger, calling a Harbaugh-Raiders connection 'total noise.'"

Harbaugh is currently signed with Michigan through 2025 after inking a contract extension with the school last January.

As for the Raiders, they already have a good candidate in Bisaccia, who led the Raiders to the playoffs despite a difficult season. Prior to Gruden's resignation, wideout Henry Ruggs III was involved in a fatal car crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor. He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death, among other charges, and cut by the team following the crash.

As Tafur noted, Bisaccia was set to speak with Davis Wednesday to interview for the job. He already has a few important backers in quarterback Derek Carr and edge-rusher Maxx Crosby, who both told reporters that they want him back.

"One of the best people I know," Crosby said in part. "One of the most honest dudes I know. And I'll go to bat for him any day of the week. I love that dude to death. He knows that. I appreciate everything he's brought to the table. I hope we keep doing it."

The Raiders are also in the market for a general manager after parting ways with Mike Mayock, who joined the team after the 2018 season.