A short list of popular names comes up when listing the potential replacements for Matt Eberflus as head coach, presuming he’s fired after the season finale in Green Bay. Probably the most-mentioned name on that list is Jim Harbaugh. It is an easy connection to make. He played quarterback in Chicago from 1987 through 1992. Mike Ditka was one of his biggest mentors, by his own admission. Rumors have persisted for years that he views the Bears job as his dream destination. So, of course, he’s getting tied to it again as Eberflus’ status in the organization wavers.
Yet some insist this is nothing more than the usual Harbaugh smokescreen. It’s a way to keep his name in the news. One might even say it’s a convenient way to find leverage in contract talks. That became evident when reports surfaced that Michigan is working on a 5-year extension that would make him the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten conference. Nothing is in writing yet, but it sounds like the two sides are making headway. The belief is the school is trying to get something in the contract that would prevent him from exiting the deal early for an NFL job.
Jim Harbaugh might be trying to hedge his bets.
That is to say, he wants to wait to see if an NFL job comes open that he has a shot to get, particularly the Bears. Dianna Russini of The Athletic reported the organization has had internal discussions about him as an Eberflus replacement. No decision has been made yet. Harbaugh is only one of multiple options on the table. Eric Bieniemy is another name mentioned recently. A source told SM the team brass has a list of “around 12” names they plan to look into if Eberflus is out. Harbaugh is on that list.
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Much of this may depend on what happens in the College Football Playoffs. Michigan is set to play Alabama in their pursuit of a national championship berth. Jim Harbaugh has yet to win a single CFP game. They were blown up by Georgia in 2021 and got upset by TCU last year. Alabama is one of the hottest teams in the country and has way more big-game experience. If Harbaugh loses another big game like this, it won’t help his efforts to get noticed. On the other hand, a national title might.
He might be delaying an agreement on the contract until he knows where he stands.