If Jim Harbaugh does decide to leave Michigan and return to the NFL this coming offseason in the wake of the illegal advanced-scouting sign-stealing allegations that have engulfed the Wolverines’ program, how much baggage would he actually be taking back to the pros?
According to FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer, not much.
Amid reports from early November that the NFL may honor any suspension that the NCAA levies on Harbaugh as a result of its investigation into Michigan’s alleged sign stealing, NFL teams first told Glazer when asked that they wanted to learn more about the investigation before determining whether it would impact a potential pursuit of Harbaugh.
“But as the last couple weeks have gone on, that has just completely changed,” Glazer reported live on the special Thanksgiving edition of “FOX NFL Sunday.” “All the teams I’ve talked to have said, ‘You know what? Regardless of what we hear in that investigation, that’s not going to affect the way we look at Jim Harbaugh if he wants to come back and coach in the NFL.’ I actually think in the NFL, they’ve kind of moved on from this.”
That only further increases the likelihood of Harbaugh finally returning to the NFL after flirting with the possibility over the past couple of offseasons. He interviewed with the Vikings in early 2022 before Minnesota hired Kevin O’Connell and with the Broncos last year before Denver hired Sean Payton.
Unlike most college head coaches with a willingness to jump into the professional ranks, Harbaugh is also already a proven success in the NFL, having returned the 49ers to playoff contention with a 44-19 record and Super Bowl appearance over his four years in San Francisco from 2011-2014.
It remains to be seen what sort of punishment the NCAA would hand down to Harbaugh as a result of its investigation into the in-person sign-stealing ring purportedly led by ex-Wolverines recruiting staffer Connor Stalions. Harbaugh is currently suspended for three games due to the investigation by the Big Ten, and will serve the final game of that suspension in Saturday’s massive rivalry matchup between the No. 3 Wolverines and No. 2 Ohio State in Ann Arbor on FOX (coverage begins at 10 a.m. ET with “Big Noon Kickoff” on FOX and the FOX Sports App).
NFL interest in Jim Harbaugh has not been impacted by the Michigan sign-stealing scandal
The NCAA is likely to factor Harbaugh’s current suspension — as well as the three-game suspension he served at the beginning of the season due to alleged recruiting violations — towards any punishment it hands down towards him.
Both FOX Sports college football Insider Bruce Feldman and FOX Sports college football analyst Urban Meyer both told Colin Cowherd recently that they would not be surprised if Harbaugh was not on Michigan’s sideline in 2024.
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