Speculation Stirs About Star College Coach Joining Raiders

mark davis

Getty Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis.

With the news that Josh McDaniels is out as the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, interim head coach Antonio Pierce has a nine-game audition to show that he deserves the full-time job. However, considering his lack of coaching experience at the NFL level (only in his second year), it’s difficult to see owner Mark Davis committing his franchise to Pierce.

The Raiders have to go back to the drawing board after the season and will do a coaching search regardless of how Pierce does. Though it’s very early in the process, one name is already being speculated for the team’s opening: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The Raiders were linked to the coach in 2022 before hiring McDaniels and now they’ll have another chance to take a look at him. Former NFL wide receiver and Fox Sports analyst Keyshawn Johnson sees it as a logical fit.

He wants to get back into the NFL in the right situation,” Johnson said of Harbaugh on the November 1 episode of “UNDISPUTED.” [The Raiders are] the perfectly set up for him.”

There were also hoards of posts on X that suggested that Harbaugh would be the next Raiders head coach.

Jim Harbaugh Faces Suspension

On the surface, Jim Harbaugh to the Raiders makes a lot of sense. He got his coaching start with the Raiders back in 2002 as their quarterbacks coach. He went on to eventually become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers where he went 44-19 in four seasons. He’s also maintained a friendship with Mark Davis over the years.

However, there are complications if the Raiders were to hire him. Harbaugh is currently dealing with a sign-stealing scandal and Michciagn and could face a suspension. According to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, could still face punishment even if he leaves the NCAA.

“The NFL is unlikely to make itself a safe harbor for Harbaugh to escape what could be substantial NCAA discipline, league sources say, raising the strong possibility Harbaugh would need to serve some or all of any possible suspension he could face in college if he returns to the pros,” Rapoport and Pelissero wrote in an October 29 report.

It remains to be seen how long a suspension could look. If he just has to sit out for four games, that shouldn’t be much of a deterrent to Davis. If he’s going to have to miss a whole year, it’s hard to imagine the Raiders hiring him.

Other Candidates for Las Vegas Raiders Job

The Raiders will have to look at multiple options this offseason to replace Josh McDaniels even if they’re sold on Jim Harbaugh. The first candidate that will almost certainly be on the team’s radar is Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. The 37-year-old was a hot head coaching candidate last offseason but decided he wanted to stay put. The Lions are averaging 390.6 yards per game under Johnson this season, which is second-best in the NFL.

Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith also makes a lot of sense. The Dolphins have the top offense in points (33.9 per game) and yards (453.3 per game) this season. Plus, Smith was the Raiders’ tight ends coach from 2018 to 2020. He doesn’t call the plays for Miami but he’s a respected up-and-coming offensive mind who must be learning a lot from Mike McDaniel.

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