NFL Rumors: Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, Panthers' David Tepper Have Discussed HC Job

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2023

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines before a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh might be headed back to the NFL. For real this time.

Harbaugh has spoken with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper about the team's head coaching vacancy, per Will Kunkel of Charlotte Sports Live.

While an offer hasn't been made, The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, Nicole Auerbach, Austin Meek and Nick Kosmider reported Monday the 59-year-old is expected to leave the Wolverines if he receives concrete interest from an NFL team.

"I think it is a done deal if he gets an offer," one source told The Athletic.

Harbaugh enjoyed another successful year at his alma mater in 2022. Michigan went unbeaten during the regular season and reached the College Football Playoff, where it lost 51-45 to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

The program has had quite the renaissance since 2020, when a 2-4 finish in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened campaign made its head coach look like a lame duck.

But Harbaugh hasn't exactly kept hidden his desire for an NFL comeback.

While the Wolverines were getting ready to celebrate national signing day Feb. 2, he was planning to interview with the Minnesota Vikings.

Speaking with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press days later, Harbaugh said pursuing a Super Bowl was alluring but insisted it was "the last time" he'd entertain NFL overtures.

Now, he once again is front and center in coaching rumors.

The Panthers are one of three teams looking to hire a head coach, and they're arguably the most attractive of the trio.

Carolina doesn't have to navigate Russell Wilson's five-year, $242.6 million contract, which will be an albatross for the Denver Broncos or require a significant short-term penalty to shed.

The Indianapolis Colts have become of the most dysfunctional franchises in the league now that they no longer have a generational quarterback such as Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck.

The Panthers are in need of a new starting quarterback, but their rebuild will allow a new head coach to have significant input on the roster.

Even if he views Carolina as an attractive landing spot, though, Harbaugh might wait to see how other dominoes fall. The landscape is bound to look different after Black Monday. This time next week, another job could be far more enticing.