Why is Jim Harbaugh So Interested in Vikings Job?
Saturday Afternoon, it was reported by Pro Football Talk that the Minnesota Vikings were going to interview University of Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh for their vacant head coaching position. A few hours later, we found out they had already been having initial discussions.
Once you get passed the shock of such an incredible news story involving our favorite football team, a few questions quickly enter the mind of Minnesota sports fans. First, how realistic is the possibility of Jim Harbaugh actually joining the Vikings? Second, could he just be using this “interview” as leverage to better his situation in Ann Arbor? And finally, out of all the NFL jobs Harbaugh could have shown interest in… why Minnesota?
Well, thanks to the power of the internet and the many insiders who have reported on the situation, there are some pieces we can put together. This started back on January 4, when Bruce Feldman (The Athletic) reported Harbaugh’s interest in going back to the league.
And now, The Athletic is hearing rumblings, both from the NFL side and at Michigan, that Harbaugh might be tempted to leave the Wolverines to return to the NFL. “I think it’s real,” said one source this week when asked about the possibility of Harbaugh being interested in heading back to the NFL.Bruce Feldman – The Athletic
Then there’s the contract. Jim Harbaugh had his best season as the Wolverines head coach in 2021. He won AP Coach of the Year, took Michigan to the College Football Playoff and won the Big Ten Championship. Oh, and he finally beat Ohio State.
But entering 2021, Harbaugh was on the hot seat. So hot, that he was forced to take a massive pay cut reducing his salary from 1st in the Big Ten to 8th. His buyout was also lowering significantly. Jim earned most of it back in incentives, thanks to Michigan’s historic season.
Source tells The Athletic Michigan and Jim Harbaugh are close to finalizing a five-year deal — expected base salary is $4 million. With incentives, he could get it back to $8 million. Buyout is expected to be low.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 8, 2021
Harbaugh hasn't signed. Is expected to soon.
Harbaugh’s loyalty to Michigan changed when he took that pay cut one year ago. They offered him another extension earlier this month. He’s actually agreed to verbally but has yet to sign it officially. Could Jim be hoping to get even more in that new extension? Maybe, but he’s also 58 years old. The grind of an NFL season isn’t easy by any means. But it doesn’t include recruiting, which never sleeps and puts a lot of stress on college coaching staffs year-round.
Why the Vikings?
We know that Jim Harbaugh took interest in the Minnesota Vikings open head coaching gig after his old friend, Kwesi Afofo-Mensah, was hired as their new general manager. So that’s the first reason why Harbaugh would eye the job in Minnesota, specifically.
Beyond that, they also have owners who are patient and don’t mettle in what their team leaders want to do both in the front office and on the football field. That sort of thing can be rare and make said leaders feel much more comfortable with decisions they make. If Harbaugh had issues with 49ers ownership and/or the front office, a combination of Adofo-Mensah and the Wilf family could be very enticing.
Then, we move to the roster. While it certainly isn’t free of warts that need removal, it’s also stacked with some pretty young and intriguing talent. Obviously, Justin Jefferson is the shiny diamond on top. But the Vikings also have Brian O’Neill, Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks, among others. And let’s not forget the best combination of team facilities league-wide, between US Bank Stadium and TCO Performance Center.
Worth a Try
Even if Jim Harbaugh is using the Minnesota Vikings opening as a means to gain more money and more security at Michigan, then so be it. The ride alone will be worth it and raise the stock of the Vikings job in the eyes of other candidates.
But if that’s what he wanted to do, why would he only show interest in this job? Why not show more interest in all of the jobs that are currently available? The fact that the Vikings job is the only one Harbaugh has been legitimately linked to tells me that he’s serious about wearing a purple sweatshirt or jacket with his khakis.
Which is, by the way, a great combination.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan