Is Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh inevitably NFL-bound amid sign-stealing scandal?

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By Samantha Rose

If — and when — Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing scandal gets uglier and support begins to waver on both sides, could head coach Jim Harbaugh jump back to the NFL?

Colin Cowherd thinks so, specifically because of the amount of options that Harbaugh could have.

“This is going to be a very rare year where there’s multiple NFL offerings potentially that are good,” Cowherd said on Thursday’s edition of “The Herd.” “Chicago with a top college quarterback. It’s a great college quarterback draft class including Harbaugh’s own at Michigan [J.J. McCarthy]. Commanders with a good roster, weapons and a rich, new owner. Potentially the Chargers, though I think they make the playoffs with Justin Herbert and weapons. Tampa Bay, solid roster, lots of weapons. Get a college quarterback. The Raiders, Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Kolton Miller, [Josh] Jacobs, lot of weapons. 

“Again, good college class including Harbaugh’s quarterback at Michigan [McCarthy], Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Bo Nix, Michael Penix; there’s a kid at Duke [Riley Leonard], a kid at Florida State [Jordan Travis], a kid at LSU [Jayden Daniels]. We could have eight quarterbacks go in the top 38-40 picks, so it’s very unique … it’s a pretty tasty lineup of cap space and young stars where you got four-to-five years of not having to pay for them; very good for Harbaugh and his agent … if the NCAA punishment is too harsh, Jim exits stage right.”


Michigan’s ongoing sign-stealing scandal is based on now-fired assistant Connor Stalions gaining impermissible access to Big Ten schools’ on-field signals, obtained by attending games.

Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti is expected to soon discipline Michigan, which could potentially mean a substantial fine for the university or Harbaugh being suspended.

Harbaugh’s first head-coaching gig came at Stanford from 2007-10, which culminated with a 12-1 2010 campaign. He then spent the next four years with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14), headlined by them reaching Super Bowl XLVII and making the playoffs with 11-plus wins three times. 

Harbaugh is in his ninth season as Michigan’s head coach (2015-present), where he has compiled an 83-25 record. Harbaugh’s Wolverines are currently 9-0 (6-0 in Big Ten play) in the 2023 college football season and have won their last 21 Big Ten games and the last two conference titles. They’re ranked No. 3 in the country.

Michigan travels to No. 10 Penn State (8-1 overall, 5-1 in Big Ten play) for “Big Noon Saturday” this coming weekend (12 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

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