The Denver Broncos are not wasting any time when searching for their next head coach after they fired Nathaniel Hackett on December 26. Less than a week later, Pro Football Talk reported that the Broncos reached out to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
While Harbaugh has been weighing his options on if he’ll return to the NFL, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported on January 8 that the Broncos are planning to interview Harbaugh this week.
Pelissero, along with NFL insider Ian Rapoport, mentioned that the interview will be virtual in the coming days along with more candidates.
Last offseason, Harbaugh was a finalist for the Minnesota Vikings’ head coaching job before they hired former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
Harbaugh told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “For better or worse, it was something I wanted to explore. I went in thinking, ‘I’m gonna have 100 percent conviction on this, and if they have 100 conviction on this, then it’s something I’m gonna do.”
Harbaugh later admitted that the interest level was not mutual between him and the Vikings.
“I didn’t feel it was that way for both parties and that’s it.”
Jim Harbaugh’s Career Success
After spending 14 seasons in the NFL as a quarterback, Harbaugh decided to get into coaching where he landed his first head coaching job at the University of San Diego.
In his first season, Harbaugh led the Toreros to a 7-4 record and finished second in the Pioneer Football League. In his second and third seasons as head coach, San Diego piled up 11-1 records in both years and won back-to-back Pioneer Football League Championships.
This led Harbaugh to being hired as the head coach of Stanford. Taking over a program that won just one game in 2006, Harbaugh eventually led the team to a bowl game three years later.
During his time at Stanford, Harbaugh helped coach and develop Andrew Luck, who eventually became the first-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In 2011, Harbaugh made the jump to the NFL as he became the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
In his first season with San Francisco, Harbaugh got the 49ers to the NFC Championship game before they fell to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
The following season, the 49ers ended up in the Super Bowl of 2013, but fell just short to his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens.
After the 2014 season, the 49ers and Harbaugh decided to part ways which allowed him to become the head coach of Michigan just two days later.
Harbaugh took over a 5-7 program and turned them into a powerhouse. In the first seven seasons that Harbaugh has coached his alma mater, the Wolverines have appeared in six bowl games and have won more than 10 games five times.
Michigan has also won the Big 10 twice under Harbaugh ending a four-year streak set by Ohio St.
Broncos Have Spoken to Sean Payton: Report
The top two candidates on the Broncos’ head coaching list are Harbaugh and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
On January 7, ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter reported, that the Broncos requested and received permission from the New Orleans Saints to interview Payton.
Hours later, Jordan Schultz of The Score reported that Payton spoke with the Broncos’ ownership and that there is mutual interest on both sides.
The Saints still own Payton’s rights because he retired while remaining under contract with the team. In 2019, Payton and the Saints agreed to a five-year extension that would keep the head coach under contract through the 2024 season.
According to Schefter, the “Broncos and Saints do not have to – and haven’t – agreed to the compensation that would go to New Orleans if Denver hired Sean Payton, per sources. This would come later if talks between Denver and Payton go well.”