By now, everyone has heard the rumors that Michigan's Jim Harbaugh was set to interview with the Minnesota Vikings for their vacant head coach position. Whether or not the interest is real has yet to be determined.
(It has since been reported that the interview took place via Zoom. It has also been reported that Harbaugh's intentions to make the leap to the NFL are genuine.)
Source on Jim Harbaugh interest in NFL return: “Jim is interested in right spot with those who want him. He loves the NFL. But he's happy there and in a great position there. They're going to be good now for a long time.”— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) January 30, 2022
This makes sense.
After all, much of the talk this offseason has been about Harbaugh's contract—one that doesn't quite match up to some of his colleagues—including Penn State's James Franklin, who just signed a mega-deal this offseason.
(There is believed to be a contract on the table that would make Harbaugh a very rich man, but he just handed his defensive coordinator back to his brother John in Baltimore—raising questions about what might come next.)
Could this all be a way for him to squeeze more money out of Michigan? Or could his interest in the NFL be legit?
We're about to find out.
On January 10th, Stephen Ross was asked about his interest in Jim Harbaugh—after a report from CBS Jason LaConfora stated there was interest. Here's what Miami's owner had to say:
“(laughter) I have no coach in mind at this point. We’re going to do a thorough review and interview process. Jim Harbaugh, I love Jim Harbaugh. He had the opportunity once before to come to the Miami Dolphins. But he’s at the University of Michigan as everybody really knows. That is the school that I graduated from and I’m very involved in it, and I’m not going to be the person that takes Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan. I hope he stays there. He is a great coach.”
But with Minnesota legitimately interested in the Wolverines' head coach—and many other openings on the market— what is there to keep Ross from opening up his checkbook like he tried to once before and finally land the head coach of his dreams?
Now before I go any further, let me start by saying I'm still 99.69% aboard the Mike McDaniels’ bandwagon. The truth is, he has been a candidate I've admired since Miami first requested an interview with him to become the new offensive coordinator back in January 2021.
(The 49ers blocked that interview and instead promoted McDaniel to offensive coordinator.)
The first time I saw these quotes, I was intrigued.
49ers run game coordinator mike mcdaniel is starting to become a favorite among the miami dolphins fanbase. here are some interesting quotes on the potential OC candidate from players and coaches. #finsup https://t.co/tL00ZZntuW— josh houtz (@houtz) January 14, 2021
Sprinkle in all the videos we've been able to see during the 2021 NFL season at his press conferences, player quotes, and his QB collective videos— it's easy to see why he's a fan favorite—and has been since the first list of candidates emerged for Miami's vacancy.
The articles and stories about his career are pretty good too.
Kyle Shanahan previously blocked interview requests for him, while George Kittle wanted him as part of his contract. Run game coordinator Mike McDaniel is the offensive mastermind behind the San Francisco 49ers' rushing excellence.
(I also posted another article on Twitter you can check out )
Oh, and let's not forget he comes from one of the most successful coaching trees in the history of the sport—one that currently has two head coaches going head to head in the NFC Championship game later today.
If Miami were to go the young, offensive guru route as they've tried in the past, McDaniel is my guy.
But again, that was before Jim Harbaugh was available.
Eleven years ago, I remember where I was when Incarcerated Bob broke the news. (He was somewhat legit for the year 2011, or maybe I was gullible.) The deal was complete, and I legitimately remember frolicking in the streets of Annville, PA (STEVE BLACKMON'S HOMETOWN!!!) because I thought Miami just landed one of the best head coaches of the time.
Narrator: They didn't.
Looking back at it now, it was dirty AF to go behind Tony Sparano's back #RIP, but if you were willing to do THAT, you should be willing to get your head coach—if him leaving Michigan is inevitable.
Harbaugh's Michigan buyout is reportedly $1.5 million or the price of a double cheeseburger on the dollar menu at McDonald's for Owner Stephen Ross. So, I don’t see this being an issue. (Yes, even while paying Brian Flores, Ross could afford to give Harbaugh the deal he desires—and pay his Michigan buyout.)
Besides his good looks and khakis, Harbaugh brings a proven track record of turning teams around. He did it at Stanford, San Francisco, and again at Michigan—although many will always view the Wolverines as Ohio State's little brother.
Harbaugh holds a career 119-51 record in college, but it's what he did (during a different era) with the San Francisco 49ers that always gave me hope. During his time with the 49ers, Harbaugh went 49-22-1 with three NFC Championship appearances. He also had one Super Bowl appearance but fell short of hoisting the most-prestigious trophy of them all—the Lombardi.
Some reports suggest his staff would include former Denver Broncos' head coach Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton—who has had previous success with Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert and Houston Texans Davis Mills.
Again, I don't see how this isn't a no-brainer when we all now realize how important the entire coaching staff is.
Then again, it's possible Ross would rather keep general manager Chris Grier in place—and the defensive side of the football—and see how far away his NFL franchise really is. Even if this means missing out on the head coach, he truly wanted all along.
I just don’t think you can let Chris Grier and a defense that might not be as good as we think, prevent you from taking the leap of faith. And at the beginning of all this, it made the most sense (IMO) for this team to find a proven head coach like Jim Harbaugh or Doug Pederson.
Ultimately, I will support whoever becomes the next head coach of the Dolphins, as I have time and time again. But if it's not Jim Harbaugh—who has been a personal pipe dream of mine for over a decade—it needs to be the out-of-the-box offensive genius that’s been alongside Kyle Shanahan, every step of the way.
The time is now, Ross. Make your move!
“It is better to try and fail than never try at all.” - Kofi Kingston
TLDR: I want Mike McDaniel, but my heart won't allow me to let go of Jim Harbaugh—and I honestly feel like owner Stephen Ross OWES it to the fans—after so many years of poor football decisions. He also has a baller staff lined up if he were to get an NFL gig.
By the time I finished writing (and scheduled) this article, the Miami Dolphins have a second interview set up with Mike McDaniel, and former Miami Herald writer Armando Salguero has mentioned Ross’ interest in Harbaugh.
Had plugged in (former) #Dolphins employee who retains connections to the team tell me last nite he expects Steve Ross will do what he can to hire Jim Harbaugh if the Michigan coach is indeed considering leaving Michigan for NFL. We'll see.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) January 30, 2022
Buckle up, it could be a wild ride!
What are your thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' search for a new head coach? Are you sold on San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel? What about Dallas Cowboys' OC Kellen Moore? Should Miami be all-in on Michigan's Jim Harbaugh? Let us know in the comments section Below.