Wilfs Want Harbaugh; Minority Vikings Stakeholder, Michigan Alum, Does Not
Today is the day, Minnesota Vikings fans. Our favorite football team’s head coaching search has been completely engulfed by the icon that is Jim Harbaugh. And he is in Eagan interviewing with the Wilfs, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and everyone else who holds any weight inside of TCO Performance Center as you read this blog.
According to Sam Webb of Michigan Insider (247Sports), Adofo-Mensah has Harbaugh at the top of his list of candidates. We knew that already. But now, both Chad Graff (The Athletic) and Cris Carter (GMFB) are reporting that Mark and Zygi Wilf have also bought in on Jim Harbaugh as the team’s next head coach. They want to make a splash and, hopefully, get right back to winning.
But there are still those inside of the Vikings organization who aren’t buying what Harbaugh is selling. Which is a new-aged coaching style that embraces analytics and collaboration. Most importantly, Jim needs to convince a select few doubters who are expressing serious concerns about his ability to work in harmony with others. If you remember, that was a make or break personality trait for their next coach when this process started.
That list of doubters includes, according to Webb (Michigan Insider), one minority Vikings stakeholder who has intimate knowledge of Jim Harbaugh and his time at the University of Michigan. Another Michigan football Insider and author of a book on Harbaugh’s time with the Wolverines and 49ers, John U. Bacon, followed the breadcrumbs left by Webb in a must-read Twitter thread. Bacon even named the anti-Harbaugh UM alum as Jim Stapleton, who has indeed owned a minority stake in the Minnesota Vikings since 2005.
Sources in Ann Arbor had Harbaugh prepping much of the day Monday with quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss, which makes sense given the Michigan assistant’s technical acumen and expertise in analytics. It’s a sign Harbaugh is taking nothing for granted, and that he will be ready to quell concerns about whether his approach is modern enough.
There is a minority stakeholder in the Vikings with strong Michigan ties who has been adamant in expressing the view that one of the other candidates would be a better choice.Sam Webb (Michigan Insider)
Webb doesn’t name him, and didn’t tell me, but my sources have confirmed what I already suspected from circumstantial evidence: U-M alumnus and former EMU trustee Jim Stapleton, who’s been a Vikings minority owner since 2005. (9/13)— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) February 2, 2022
As I reported in Three and Out, after Stapleton had been accused of sabotaging U-M coach Rich Rodriguez he wrote a 4-page letter refuting the charges, but still had his sideline pass revoked. He is now one of Harbaugh’s critics, hoping to persuade the Wilfs to reject him. (10/13)— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) February 2, 2022
So what happens next?
Minnesota’s head decision-makers, both Webb and Bacon confirmed in the above blog and Twitter thread respectively, want Jim Harbaugh to be the Vikings’ next head coach. Those decision-makers include the new general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, and owners Mark and Zygi Wilf. Because of that, he’s the far and ahead favorite.
But Jim is clearly taking this interview seriously and wants to show his doubters that he’s turned over a new leaf, or that he was never the difficult to work with head coach some think he is. Either way, we should have an answer sometime in the next 12 hours, I’d imagine.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan