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Jim Harbaugh hasn’t coached in the NFL since the 2014 season. However, after seven years in college football at the helm in Michigan, 2022 seemed like the year he was ready to get back to the pros. In fact, he was so sure that he wanted back in the NFL, and that the NFL wanted him, that it sounds like it tanked his chance with the Minnesota Vikings, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin.

Jim Harbaugh was in the mix for several NFL head coaching jobs

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, who recently interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings job, looks on from the sideline during the Big Ten Championship college football game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Dec. 4, 2021 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Jim Harbaugh | Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was incredibly successful on the field. He posted a 44-19-1 record with the Bay Area team and went to a Super Bowl in the 2012 season.

However, the problems with Harbaugh were never on the field in the NFL. He only lasted four seasons in the pros because he doesn’t play nice with others. Or, as Chris Simms put it, because Harbaugh is a “jerk.”

Despite the hard-to-work-with label, Harbaugh is an intriguing name for NFL franchises thanks to his proven track record of success. In addition to his NFL W’s, he also has an impressive combined 90-45 record at Stanford and Michigan.

Harbaugh made the College Football Playoffs this year, but that came on the heels of him taking a pay cut to stay and Michigan and his struggles against blood-rival Ohio State.

With that as the backdrop, Harbaugh drew interest from the Miami Dolphins and the Minnesota Vikings. He interviewed with the Vikings, but the club ended up hiring Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. And, according to ESPN’s Vikings insider Courtney Cronin, at least part of the reason was Harbaugh’s attitude.

Minnesota Vikings insider Courtney Cronin explained why Harbaugh didn’t get the job 

Many thought it was a done deal when Jim Harbaugh interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings job. That apparently included Harbaugh himself.

According to ESPN’s Minnesota Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin’s Twitter thread, the biggest reason Harbaugh was a strong candidate in Minnesota was because of his relationship with new Vikings general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Adofo-Mensah worked in the front office of the San Francisco 49ers while Harbaugh was the head coach. As Cronin tells it, this gave Harbaugh the impression that he wasn’t really interviewing for the job. He felt it was already his.

Cronin writes that Harbaugh “operated under the assumption that the job was his and prepared for the interview as such.”

“The Vikings saw this very differently and not as a ‘slam dunk’ as a source put it to me the way they felt Harbaugh viewed the situation coming into Wed.,” she continued.

Because of this difference in expectations, the two sides “did not align,” and O’Connell ultimately got the job. Cronin also notes, “FWIW, I don’t gather that there’s any bad blood from either side. Just sounds like a difference in expectation from Harbaugh’s perspective and from the Vikings.”

Even if there were no hard feelings, the whole experience seemed enough to make Harbaugh swear off the pros for good.

The Michigan head coach says he’s done flirting with the NFL


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After his dalliance with the NFL, Jim Harbaugh talked about the experience with legendary Michigan-based writer Mitch Albom in the Detroit Free Press.

The Wolverines coach told Albom he is rededicating himself to the University of Michigan. And interestingly, he seemed to hint that the reason is due to the Minnesota Vikings, as Courtney Cronin explained it.  

“There was a large pull there (for the NFL.),” Harbaugh told Albom. “But I didn’t feel it was that way for both parties.”

The coach also said that he is now 100% dedicated to Michigan, telling Michigan AD Warde Manuel, “From here on out, I’m working at the pleasure of the University of Michigan, because that’s, in my heart, where I want to be.”

It’s nice to be wanted, and Harbaugh seemingly found out the hard way that Michigan wants him a lot more than the NFL does right now. That could keep him in college for a good long time to come.

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