Jim Harbaugh-Broncos: ‘Walmart Money’ and a Secretary of State Will Land the Michigan Coach in Denver

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh insists that he is staying in Ann Arbor for next season. However, the NFL keeps calling the coach who owns a 44-19-1 record on the NFL sidelines. This has happened the last few seasons, and so far, the former NFL quarterback has stuck to his word and stayed at his alma mater. This time, though, the NFL’s offer — specifically from the Denver Broncos — may be too good to refuse. That’s because a Jim Harbaugh-Broncos move involves “Walmart money” and former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

A Jim Harbaugh Broncos offer may be too good to turn down

After Black Monday in the NFL, there are now five teams (Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans) that need a new head coach.

As the search process around the league heats up, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero joined the Dan Patrick Show to discuss the coaching carousel. Pelissero reported to Dan Patrick that a Jim Harbaugh-Broncos interview went down this week (virtually) for “over two hours.”

The Michigan coach isn’t the only candidate. The Broncos also plan on interviewing former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton as well as a trio of defensive coordinators, the San Francisco 49ers’ DeMeco Ryans, Dallas Cowboys’ Dan Quinn, and Los Angeles Rams’ Raheem Morris.  

That said, Pelissero believes that if the Broncos want Harbaugh, they’ll get him.

The Broncos search committee includes Walton Family (Walmart) son-in-law Greg Penner and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Having Penner, and his father-in-law S. Robson Walton (the 18th richest person in the world and new Broncos owner), involved means that “we’re talking about Walmart money here,” with the Broncos, which they can throw at the right candidate, Pelissero shared.

“Before [Harbaugh] was with the 49ers, he was at Stanford,” Pelissero also noted. “Condoleezza Rice has deep ties to Stanford. Greg Penner got his MBA there. So they know a lot of the same people in the same circles.”

When you combine the fact that Harbaugh “was always a name that was going to be on [the Broncos] radar” and that the Broncos’ new ownership group wants to “swing big” at a head coach, according to Pelissero, the Michigan coach seems like a real option for the AFC West team.

The Michigan coach is a good choice for the Broncos

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(L-R) Jim Harbaugh, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson | Chris Coduto/Getty Images; Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Image
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The knock on Jim Harbaugh as a coach isn’t that he can’t coach. It’s that he’s hard to deal with behind the scenes.

When Harbaugh got to San Francisco, he took over a team in the midst of an eight-season playoff drought. In his first year at the helm, Harbaugh went 13-3 and lost in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual champions, the New York Giants.

The next season, the 49ers lost (to Harbaugh’s brother, John, and his Baltimore Ravens) in the Super Bowl, and the season after that, they made it to the NFC Championship Game again. Ultimately, Harbaugh’s relationship with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York got so bad it was untenable. But the on-field product was never the problem.

And what should be of particular note to the Broncos is that Harbaugh did all this in the Bay Area with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. Both these players are mobile quarterbacks with average talent at best. In 2023, Russell Wilson is a similar player, and the next Broncos coach will have to fix Russ first and foremost to have success.

The Jim Harbuagh-Broncos connection is already strong as the front office is enamored with Harbaugh thanks to their Stanford connections. So, the personality conflicts shouldn’t come up. And on the field, he might be the best option to craft an offense around Wilson’s skills and get the best out of him.

And, of course, “Walmart money” always helps.