Chicago Bears fans hoping Jim Harbaugh will be the team’s next head coach just got dealt a significant blow.
After firing head coach Matt Nagy on January 10, the search has been on for a new head coach, and due to his ties with the team, many assumed the current Michigan Wolverines coach could be a contender. There have been rumors of Harbaugh’s interest in heading back to the NFL, and he hasn’t done much to dispute or refute them. Until now.
Michigan is set to hire Mike Elston away from Notre Dame to become its new defensive line coach to replace Shaun Nua, a move insiders say surely means Harbaugh is staying put in Ann Arbor.
ALL the latest Bears news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Bears newsletter here!
All Indicators Point to Harbaugh Staying Put
Harbaugh initially addressed the NFL rumors during a Zoom call with the media ahead of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award ceremony on January 12.
“It’s a little more enjoyable this year compared to the rumors last year, so,” Harbaugh said, per The Sporting News, referring to the rumors he could be fired after Michigan’s 2-4 campaign in 2020. He also noted he was planning on a little family time before heading back to recruiting.
“I’ve got the whole family down here (in Houston),” Harbaugh added. “We’re going to maybe find some fun stuff to do with the family tomorrow. Just got to enjoy these days with your family, because hit the road recruiting in the next couple days.”
While Harbaugh hasn’t come out and said anything concrete about those NFL rumors, Bears Insider Adam Hoge of NBC Sports and several other analysts think the addition of Elston is a sure sign Harbaugh is staying at Michigan.
While the idea of Harbaugh to Chicago is an intriguing one, all signs point to him staying put.
“This hire seems to indicate that Jim Harbaugh will be back in Ann Arbor next fall. Obviously he hasn’t signed an extension yet, but making a big hire like this seems to be a pretty telling sign,” Brandon Brown of Sports Illustrated wrote on January 13.
“For those reading tea leaves about Harbaugh’s future, Elston’s hiring indicates the Wolverines are moving ahead with plans for 2022 despite Harbaugh’s reported interest in the NFL,” Michigan beat writer Austin Meek told The Athletic about the situation.
Follow the Heavy on Bears Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest Bears-related breaking news, rumors, content and more!
There’s Still a Rumored Connection With the Bears
Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog, who was the first and only team insider to report the Bears were firing both Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, noted via Twitter on January 12 that if Harbaugh is interested in entering the NFL again after last coaching the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, the Bears will be at the top of his list.
“No one is quite sure whether Jim Harbaugh is serious about leaving Michigan in 2022. But if he is, the Bears will interest him greatly. How do we know? Because he called the Bears LAST YEAR, after his disappointing 2020 with the Wolverines. There is a real relationship there,” Hughes tweeted.
There may be a genuine relationship between Bears ownership and Harbaugh, but it looks like his immediate plans don’t include the Windy City. It’s still something worth monitoring for those who are still holding out hope, however.
READ NEXT: Top Bears Assistant Could Be Poached By NFC Team: Report