February 20, 2024
By Daniel Popper, Austin Meek and Jeff Howe

Los Angeles Chargers proprietor Dean Spanos vowed in December he could be “reimagining” how his group approaches “constructing and sustaining a championship-caliber program.” Contemplate that course of reimagined.

The Chargers are hiring Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh as their coach, the group introduced Wednesday. The 60-year-old agreed to a five-year deal, based on a league supply.

For the primary time since Norv Turner in 2007, the Chargers have employed a coach with earlier NFL head-coaching expertise. They went procuring on the high of the market, in some of the embellished and certified teams of teaching candidates in current league historical past. They usually succeeded.

Harbaugh spent the previous 9 seasons at Michigan, a run that culminated with a nationwide championship earlier this month. Previous to that, Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers for 4 seasons from 2011-14. He compiled a 44-19-1 document whereas main San Francisco to 3 straight NFC championship video games, together with a Tremendous Bowl berth in 2012.

“My love for Michigan, enjoying there and coming again to educate there, leaves a long-lasting impression. I’ll at all times be a loyal Wolverine,” Harbaugh stated in a press release. “I’m remarkably lucky to have been afforded the privilege of teaching at locations the place life’s journey has created robust private connections for me. From working as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky alongside my father, Jack, and time as an assistant with the Raiders, to being a head coach at USD, Stanford, the 49ers and Michigan — every of these alternatives carried significance, every felt private. Once I performed for the Chargers, the Spanos household couldn’t have been extra gracious or extra welcoming. Being again right here looks like dwelling, and it’s nice to see that these issues haven’t modified.”

The Chargers performed their first interview with Harbaugh on Jan. 15. He was interviewed a second time Tuesday, a league supply stated.

Harbaugh is a confirmed winner at each the faculty and NFL ranges. He brings a cachet that can earn him quick respect from gamers as quickly as he steps into the constructing. He’ll demand quite a lot of the group, however with this rent, the Chargers are saying relatively publicly that they’re prepared for that accountability, for these expectations.

The Chargers are coming into their eighth season in L.A. They’ve a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert. The time to etch their place on this market is correct now. That, greater than something, is what this rent signifies.

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Settling for mediocrity and occasional competition is not an choice. Perennial Tremendous Bowl competition is the aim. Profitable is the final field the Chargers need to test to really earn relevance in Los Angeles. The Spanos household invested in a premium candidate. They imagine Harbaugh can lead them there.

“You don’t construct a resume like Jim’s by chance, and also you don’t do it by your self,” stated President of Soccer Operations John Spanos. “You want a group. And no one has constructed a group extra efficiently, and repeatedly, in current historical past than Jim Harbaugh. His former gamers swear by him, and his opponents swear at him. Jim is one in all one, and we couldn’t be extra excited to have him again within the Chargers group as our head coach.”

Michigan went 15-0 below Harbaugh in 2023, beating Ohio State for the third straight 12 months and profitable the Massive Ten title. The Wolverines beat Alabama within the Rose Bowl earlier than toppling Washington 34-13 within the nationwide championship.

In 9 years, Harbaugh led Michigan to an 89-25 document and eight bowl sport appearances.

At Michigan’s championship parade, athletic director Warde Manuel led a standing ovation for Harbaugh and instructed the group in Ann Arbor, “I’m engaged on getting this man a brand new contract. I promise you.”

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Harbaugh’s contract with the Wolverines runs by way of 2026. He’s acquired loads of curiosity from the NFL through the years and talked with the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos previously two hiring cycles. Harbaugh additionally interviewed for the Falcons teaching job on Jan. 16.

The Chargers fired former coach Brandon Staley and former GM Tom Telesco on Dec. 15, hours after an embarrassing loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on nationwide tv. Telesco spent 11 seasons with the group. Staley lasted three seasons.

Harbaugh’s hiring ends a prolonged and far-reaching teaching seek for the Chargers.

Spanos stated in December that the group would “forged a large internet,” and the Chargers adopted up on that. The group interviewed 15 candidates from numerous backgrounds — former NFL coaches, former school coaches and present NFL coordinators.

They settled on Harbaugh, a coach who does have a historical past with the franchise — as a participant. Harbaugh signed with San Diego in 1999 to again up Ryan Leaf and ended up beginning 17 video games between 1999 and 2000. The Chargers had been the final group he performed a sport for; he signed contracts with the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers in 2001, however by no means appeared in any video games for both group.

The subsequent step: hiring a basic supervisor. Some names to look at embrace New York Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown, Ravens director of participant personnel Joe Hortiz and Chicago Bears co-director of participant personnel Jeff King.

What Harbaugh’s departure means for Michigan

Michigan has had loads of time to ponder life with out Harbaugh. His identify has been featured prominently within the NFL teaching carousel for the previous three years, and now his long-anticipated departure is a actuality. For any coach, duplicating Michigan’s success over the previous three seasons shall be tough, if not not possible, however Harbaugh is leaving this system with a pure successor in offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore and constructive momentum from this 12 months’s run to the nationwide championship.

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Harbaugh can also be leaving Michigan with NCAA baggage. Although the extent of the penalties has but to be decided, this system is prone to face extra sanctions in 2024 tied to 2 NCAA investigations that occurred on Harbaugh’s watch. That gained’t make the job any simpler for Harbaugh’s successor.

Selling Moore, who went 4-0 as Michigan’s head coach throughout Harbaugh’s suspensions, would enable Michigan to keep up a level of continuity and preserve a number of the program’s infrastructure in place. Changing the pinnacle coach and so many key contributors from the 2023 group shall be an enormous problem for Michigan, however that nationwide championship trophy will look good in Schembechler Corridor. — Austin Meek, Michigan employees author

Required studying

(Photograph: Maddie Meyer / Getty Photographs)