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 Harbaugh will be joining the NFL again but While he is………

Would Jim Harbaugh return to the NFL? Amid his suspension, the question arises (again)

University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh has endured intense scrutiny in recent weeks

due to the scandal surrounding sign-stealing that has engulfed his program.

By season’s end, he will have served two three-game suspensions. The first was imposed by Michigan at the start of the season following alleged recruiting violations within the program, and the second by the Big Ten Conference last week in response to the current controversy.

Could this entice Harbaugh, 59, to consider a return to the NFL as a head coach? There’s a belief in NFL circles that it might, almost two years after he met with the Minnesota Vikings about their opening that eventually went to Kevin O’Connell.

Harbaugh is among those expected to receive consideration in the next hiring cycle, according to a league source who has been briefed on discussions high-ranking NFL officials have had about potential head coach candidates.

Furthermore, according to two other league sources who frequently consult with teams regarding hiring and firing practices, Harbaugh is thought to be interested in at least two teams: the Chicago Bears and the Las Vegas Raiders. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity to talk freely about the situation.

Jim Harbaugh’s turbulent Michigan 2023 timeline

Last week, the Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for the rest of the regular season, saying Michigan was found to be in violation of its sportsmanship policy “for conducting an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition.”

Michigan is 10-0 and ranked third, behind Georgia and Ohio State, in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings.

Harbaugh has denied knowing that former Michigan football staffer Connor Stalions coordinated the in-person scouting of opponents, which is against NCAA rules, and the coach has received continued public support from his university.

This public backing has been given in spite of a Wall Street Journal story claiming that school administrators recently withdrew a lucrative contract extension offer for Harbaugh. When questioned about the story, Harbaugh responded, “I would not say that is accurate, no.”

Meek: Michigan is the problem facing the Big Ten. The Wolverines continue to win despite their anger and lack of regret.

Yet the question about a potential return to the NFL remains.

The Raiders already have a head coaching vacancy after firing Josh McDaniels on Nov. 1. Former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce is serving as interim head coach and is 2-0 so far. There’s no guarantee Pierce will parlay the interim job into a full-time position, however.

Meanwhile, Matt Eberflus remains under contract with the Bears. But he faces an uncertain future given the team’s struggles at 3-7 and the lack of growth exhibited by franchise quarterback Justin Fields, who is expected to start Sunday versus the Detroit Lions after missing the past four games with a dislocated thumb.

Harbaugh’s pre-existing relationships with high-ranking members of both teams could make the head coach jobs there appealing.

Bears team president and CEO Kevin Warren knows Harbaugh from his former role as Big Ten commissioner. Harbaugh, a former quarterback, also played in Chicago for seven of his 14 NFL seasons after the Bears made him a first-round pick in 1987.

As for the Raiders, Harbaugh was the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2002 to 2003.

Along with Harbaugh, Brady is a former Michigan quarterback and is trying to acquire a minority ownership position in the Raiders. He is friendly with both Mark Davis, the team’s owner, and Brady.

Tom Brady returned to Ann Arbor for a Michigan signing day event with Jim Harbaugh in 2016. (Photo: Getty Images/Rey Del Rio) )

The Raiders, who also fired general manager Dave Ziegler last week, would seemingly also be able to offer Harbaugh the opportunity to provide input on personnel decisions.

Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014.

After winning the NFL’s Coach of the Year award in 2011, he made it to Super Bowl XLVII, where he was defeated 34-31 by the elder brother John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens.

After several disagreements over personnel decisions, Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers mutually parted ways at the end of the 2014 season. Two days later, Michigan named him head football coach.

Since then, he has gone 84-25 in nine seasons, with back-to-back appearances in 2021 and 2022 in the College Football Playoff.

In February 2022, Harbaugh claimed that the possibility of going after another Super Bowl drove him to interview with the Vikings, who never extended a job offer to him.

Harbaugh and Michigan reached an agreement to sign a new $36.7 million, five-year contract later that month.

Then, Harbaugh remarked, “I got that close to the Super Bowl, so there was a pull to the NFL, but now was the time (to try and return).” And this is the last time.

Now let’s go chase college football’s greatest prize.”

Two years later, could his tone be changing?

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