The Chicago Bears have been searching for a new head coach since firing Matt Nagy on Jan. 10, but one name that hasn’t come up as frequently as many would like is that of current Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh.
A Jan. 5 report from Bruce Feldman of The Athletic linked Harbaugh to two NFL teams: the Bears and the Las Vegas Raiders, both of which he has a past connection to. The Bears drafted Harbaugh in the first round of the 1987 NFL draft, and he played quarterback for them until 1993. He landed his first coaching job with the Raiders back in 2002 when he served as QBs coach for two seasons.
“For now, the ball appears to be in the Raiders’ court,” Bears insider Adam Hoge of NBC Sports wrote on Jan. 21. “Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry. And for the Bears to change that, they’d have to show a lot more interest in Harbaugh than they’ve shown so far.”
According to another top Bears insider, Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog, the Bears have spoken to Harbaugh — and he may be asking for more money than they’re willing to pay.
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Hoge Says Raiders Role is Key
Hoge noted that Harbaugh has been mum about the rumors connecting him to the NFL, which is telling.
“Jim Harbaugh has the power to remove his name from NFL coaching rumors whenever he wants,” Hoge wrote. “All he has to do is send one tweet reiterating his commitment to Michigan. He can talk about how much he loves his alma mater — how Michigan has always been his dream job. He hasn’t done that. And until he does, he’s a player in the Chicago Bears’ head coach opening. And he should be. He’s the most qualified candidate for the job. But how realistic of a player is a different conversation.”
According to Hoge, sources have told him Harbaugh’s interest lies more with the Raiders, thus making their role very key:
Based on a couple very strong reports and a few well-placed phone calls this week, my current read on the situation is this: Harbaugh might want the Raiders job more than the Raiders actually want him. If the Raiders go in a different direction, would he consider the Bears job? The Bears’ level of interest in him would probably determine the level of interest reciprocated from Harbaugh’s side. My understanding is that the Bears haven’t crossed Harbaugh’s name off the list, but as they juggle a general manager search and other strong head coaching candidates… there’s a limit to how long they can wait.
Da Bears Blog’s Hughes added more to the story via Twitter on Jan. 25.
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Hughes: Harbaugh ‘Wanted North of $100 Million’
Hughes, who has never ruled out Harbaugh as a replacement for Nagy, tweeted on Jan. 25 that Harbaugh wanted over $100 million to be the Chicago’s next head coach. That’s mega-money, to be sure, and it doesn’t sound like Bears chairman George McCaskey and company are willing to pay it. When former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt wondered on the Jan. 25 segment of NBC Sports’ Bears Talk why Chicago hadn’t shown more interest in Harbaugh during their coaching search, Hughes hinted money was the primary issue.
Harbaugh was 44-19-1 in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, and he has a mark of 90-45 in 11 seasons coaching college ball at Stanford and Michigan.
The Bears just announced the hiring of new general manager Ryan Poles, and he will be in charge of finding the team’s next head coach. Harbaugh hasn’t been mentioned among the finalists, and considering Hughes’ report, the dream of the current Michigan coach coming to the Windy City may be just about over.