Final Decision Emerges on Broncos’ Pursuit of Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh

Getty Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh running into the locker room with his team during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl.

As the Denver Broncos are swinging for the fences in their search for a new head coach, news has come out on one of their top choices.

According to the University of Michigan President Santa Ono, Jim Harbaugh will remain as the head coach of the Wolverines.

“I just got off the phone with Coach Harbaugh and Jim shared with me the great news that he is going to remain as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. That is fantastic news that I have communicated to our athletic director Warde Manuel,” Sono said in his statement.

Harbaugh released a statement as well saying, ” I love the relationships that I have at Michigan – coaches, staff, families, administration, President Santa Ono, and especially the players and their families. My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say ‘Don’t try to out-happy, happy.’ Go Blue!”

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.”

Harbaugh has taken over a 5-7 Michigan program and turned them into a power house. 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. Harbaugh’s Wolverines have also participated the College Football Playoff in each of the last two seasons.

Harbaugh Spoke with Broncos Owners First

According to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Harbaugh reached out to owner and CEO Greg Penner to tell him that he was going to stay at Michigan.

“The two had several productive conversations in recent weeks but never got close to talking contract.” Klis added, “Broncos strongly believe Harbaugh’s interest in them was genuine. Not about “using Broncos as leverage” because Harbaugh made decision to return to Michigan without a new contract. He may well get one, but he didn’t string Broncos along before he got one.”

Harbaugh was one of Denver’s top targets, simply based off the fact that he’s had success everywhere he’s coached and that he had was already a head coach in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers.

The Broncos’ head coach searching committee had a connection with him based off Penner and his wife Carrie going to school at Stanford and minority owner Condoleezza Rice being connected to Stanford as well.

Rice had also been in recent coaching searches for Stanford and was there when Harbaugh was coaching Andrew Luck.

Next Steps for the Broncos

With Harbaugh now out of the equation, Denver still has two of their top three candidates in play in former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

The Broncos will interview Payton on January 17 in Los Angeles and Quinn on Friday, January 20.

Payton has confirmed that he has already spoken to the Broncos and the owners. Denver was also the first team to reach out to the Saints and were granted permission to talk to Payton.

Last season, Denver interviewed Quinn, but the Broncos ended up going with Nathaniel Hackett.

So far, the Broncos have already interviewed their own defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, former Stanford head coach David Shaw, and former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.

After their interview with Payton, the Broncos will stay in Los Angeles and interview Rams’ defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.

On Thursday January 19, the Broncos will interview San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.