The rumor mill is starting to heat up for the Las Vegas Raiders as they search for a new general manager and decide who the head coach will be next season. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia did an admirable job this season and led the team to just their second playoff berth since 2002. However, the firing of Mike Mayock doesn’t inspire hope that Bisaccia will be keeping the job going forward.
Outside of Bisaccia, the only head coaching prospect the Raiders have started the process of interviewing has been New England Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The one name that everybody keeps waiting to get an interview is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
He’s the betting favorite to land the Raiders job and there have been multiple rumors connecting him to the job but there hasn’t been anything concrete connecting the two sides yet. While the team has yet to set up an interview with the College Football Coach of the Year, there are some that believe it’s still likely to happen. Brandon Brown of Sports Illustrated is reporting that the top choice for Raiders owner Mark Davis is indeed Harbaugh:
I didn’t know this to be true until yesterday evening when more than one person very close to the situation in Las Vegas told me it was the case. Before that, I knew there was interest from Davis and the Raiders, but I didn’t actually know if Harbaugh was at the top of the list or merely on it. Knowing that Harbaugh is who Mark Davis wants makes the possibility of him ending up in Las Vegas much more realistic.
Brown also believes that it’s more likely that Harbaugh is in Las Vegas next year than Michigan.
The reporter also sayd that the firing of Mayock was was “a domino that needed to fall,” paving the way for Harbaugh to have personnel control should he take the head coach job.
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Harbaugh Ties to Las Vegas, Money Not an Issue
If the Raiders truly want Harbaugh, an important factor will be money. The coach is going to be expecting a massive payday. According to Brown, the team is willing to pay a premium to land the right coach:
There are some who believe that Mark Davis and the Raiders won’t offer enough to persuade Jim Harbaugh to leave Ann Arbor, but that’s not the case per a source. Remember, Davis and the Raiders inked Jon Gruden to a 10 year, $100 million deal in 2018 when that really wasn’t a thing. There are two or three coaches in the pros and in college making around $10 million per year right now and Harbaugh could become one of them if Davis wants him bad enough. He wouldn’t bat an eye at that amount if that’s truly what both sides want.
Considering the Gruden contract, it’s no surprise that Davis is willing to spend big money on a head coach. Something that works against the Raiders that money can’t fix if they want Harbaugh is location. The coach went to Michigan and spent much of his life in Ann Arbor. He’s happy there and so is his family. However, the move to Las Vegas could give the Raiders a unique advantage if Harbaugh is set on returning to the NFL.
As Brown pointed out, Sarah Harbaugh, Jim’s wife, was “a successful teacher and real estate agent” in Las Vegas prior to getting married. In fact, the two met when Harbaugh was at a coaching clinic in Las Vegas. Wanting to live in the city will have to factor into whatever decision the coach makes. Based on their history, it’s possible that Harbaugh and his wife have fond feelings regarding Las Vegas.
Does Anybody Actually Know What Davis Wants?
Brown is a longtime Michigan reporter so it’s safe to assume he’s well connected to the program. That said, it’s hard to know for sure what’s going on in Davis’ mind. The same goes for Harbaugh. The two haven’t had much of anything to say in the media lately.
It’s entirely possible the two are working behind the scenes on a mega-contract but nothing is set in stone yet. Davis could still simply hire a new general manager and let them run the operation after the failed Gruden experiment. Regardless, the Raiders are going through interviews right now for general managers and head coaches and Harbaugh’s name has yet to be mentioned. It could be an elaborate scheme but Davis could actually be wanting to do a real search before committing to anybody.