LOS ANGELES — Jim Harbaugh has left the national champion Michigan Wolverines to accept a head coaching job with the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.
Harbaugh has been considered among the Chargers’ most coveted prospects this coaching cycle due to his success at every level. Since beginning his coaching career in 2006 at the University of San Diego, Harbaugh has had success in stops at Stanford, Michigan and in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. There’s also Harbaugh’s Chargers connection: He played quarterback for the team for two seasons (1999-2000).
As a collegiate coach, Harbaugh has a 144-42 record, winning three Big Ten championships and Michigan’s first national title since 1997.
He was 86-25 at Michigan and brought a winning college football program back to relevance after it had declined over several seasons under Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez following the retirement of national championship-winning coach Lloyd Carr.
The rival Ohio State Buckeyes were on an eight-game winning streak against the Wolverines until Harbaugh helped them snap the streak in 2021, leading to their first of three straight Big Ten titles and a College Football Playoff appearance.
After two straight semifinal losses, extending Harbaugh’s winless streak in bowl games to six, Michigan edged Alabama in the Rose Bowl and pulled away from Washington to win the national championship with a 15-0 school record.
Harbaugh spent four seasons (2011-14) as the 49ers’ coach from 2011-14, and was named NFL Coach of the Year in his first season. He led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, who were coached by his brother John.
Harbaugh left the 49ers after the 2014 season with a 44-19-1 record.
The Chargers are scheduled to play the Ravens next season at SoFi Stadium, which will now officially be a matchup between John and Jim Harbaugh.
When Harbaugh took over the 49ers, he was rebuilding a team that had fallen from the NFL’s elite and missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons.
He’ll have a similar challenge with the Chargers, who finished 5-12 last season and have three playoff victories since 2008. Another task for Harbaugh will be determining the Chargers’ roster construction next season, as that team is expected to be $27.50. 1 million over the league salary cap, according to ESPN’s roster management system.
Harbaugh and the Chargers have been linked since the offseason began. However, one potential challenge to a Harbaugh-Chargers reunion was whether owner Dean Spanos would be willing to pay Harbaugh a competitive salary, one that would lure him away from Michigan and other NFL teams.
While the Chargers signed players to standard contracts, the organization gained a reputation for not paying coaches. Spanos’ team has denied the allegation, with team president John Spanos telling reporters in December that he did not know where the “narratives” came from and that the team had no restrictions on spending.
The Chargers fired coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco on December 15, following a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15.
The Chargers conducted an extensive search after firing Staley, interviewing 15 of the league’s highest-ranking candidates. They started internally with interim head coach Jeff Smith and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore before interviewing former Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilkes, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, Raiders DC Patrick Graham, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, former Titans coach Mike. Vrabel, former Stanford coach David Shaw, Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Ravens defensive coordinator Mike McDonald.
Staley finished his 48-game Chargers tenure with a .500 record, with one playoff appearance ending in a historic loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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