NFL Teams Should Avoid Hiring Jim Harbaugh

Has there ever been a more disappointing college football coaching hire than Jim Harbaugh? I can point to Michigan’s acquisition of Rich Rodriguez, Tennessee’s hire of Lane Kiffin, or Notre Dame’s venture with Charlie Weis as major disappointments, but all pale in comparison to Harbaugh.

Harbaugh was expected to do great things in Michigan because coaching in the NFL is infinitely more challenging than doing so in the collge ranks. Steve Spurrier, an excellent college coach, accomplished nothing in the pros while coaching the Redskins. Chip Kelly was just as much of a disaster in his stints with the Eagles and 49ers. Even Nick Saban, whom some would argue is the greatest coach in college football history, was just above average in the NFL.

Thus, many people expected great things from Harbaugh when he ventured to Michigan. Harbaugh was one of the top head coaches in the NFL, transforming the 49ers from being a laughing stock in the aughts to one of the league’s dominant forces in the next decade. Alex Smith was a bust before Harbaugh’s arrival, yet he suddenly became a viable starting quarterback in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick, meanwhile, went from being a perennial Pro Bowler under Harbaugh’s guidance, to an irrelevant scrub whose only recent accomplishment is complaining about nonsense in the post-Harbaugh era.

Harbaugh was supposed to turn Michigan into a powerhouse, much like he did with the 49ers. Everyone agreed. It was impossible to find one negative review of the hire. Harbaugh would undoubtedly win multiple championships with Michigan, all while producing countless first-round prospects for the NFL. I was eager to see which of his quarterbacks would become the next NFL star. I even mocked Shea Patterson first overall in a mock draft created two years in advance of the draft date because I was so bullish on Harbaugh’s ability to develop him!

If only I could tell myself back then how dumb I was. I honestly wouldn’t have believed it, and I don’t think anyone else would have either. How could Harbaugh become one of the worst coaches in Division I-A? In what logical universe would it be plausible for Harbaugh to be the laughing stock of college football? Apparently, this one.

Despite the utter failure at Michigan, there have been some rumblings about NFL teams hiring Harbaugh this offseason. The Jets are rumored to be interested, and I’m sure some other teams are as well.

For NFL teams considering Harbaugh to be their next head coach:

Don’t do it.

Please. Just don’t.

There’s always a chance I could be wrong again, but Harbaugh appears to have mailed in his career. He looks like he doesn’t care anymore. All of the passion he once had, especially when feuding with Pete Carroll, is gone. The khakis need to be thrown out because they are old and moldy.

If Harbaugh is no longer enthusiastic about coaching college football, why would he suddenly have the energy to do so in the pros? The NFL schedule is much more difficult than the collegiate agenda. Spurrier, when coaching the Redskins, famously joked about being able to golf during the week rather than prepare for games because that’s what he did when coaching Florida. NFL coaches either warned or criticized him about his failure to adjust to a tougher NFL lifestyle, yet Spurrier didn’t listen. It didn’t take very long for owner Daniel Snyder to fire him after that.

I don’t get why Harbaugh would suddenly work harder than he has at Michigan when he’s already quit on football. If he takes a job with a pro team, it’ll likely be for a quick cash grab because I can’t see him lasting more than a couple of years.

Again, I could be wrong, but Harbaugh looks like a man who is ready to retire on some tropical island. That’s not someone I’d want as my head coach.

Back to NFL Picks

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 22

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12