It isn’t a secret at this point. Come January 10th, the Chicago Bears will likely be hunting for a new head coach. As George McCaskey sorts things out, one major subplot has entered the forefront. That of Jim Harbaugh. After finally getting Michigan to its first College Football Playoff in program history, their dream run ended with an unfortunate thud against Georgia in the Orange Bowl. A 34-11 beatdown.
While many accused Harbaugh of once again failing to have his team ready for a big game, the reality was easier to see. The Wolverines simply weren’t in the same league as the Bulldogs. Most experts believe the Georgia defense alone was stacked with future 1st and 2nd round picks. The same could not be said for Michigan’s entire roster. This leads one to wonder if their head coach has realized he’s done all he’ll be able to do with that program.
Maybe it is time to return to the NFL.
Reports have persisted dating back to 2020 that it was only a matter of time before Harbaugh made the jump back to the pros. His success in San Francisco (44-19-1) earned him a lot of admirers around the league. However, the belief was he wouldn’t leave Michigan for just any job. It had to be the right one. With the Bears now set to come open, the smoke is growing thicker than ever that he will leave if given the chance.
The rumor for years has been that Chicago is his dream NFL job. Not a surprise since he played for the Bears as a quarterback from 1987 to 1993. Harbaugh is a big admirer of Mike Ditka. Getting a chance to return home as the head coach is quite appealing to him. It comes down to whether the organization itself is interested in a reunion. The short answer according to a source is yes. There is definite intrigue at the idea.
Jim Harbaugh is a style the Bears haven’t seen in many years
Think about the list of head coaches since Ditka was fired. Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman, John Fox, and Nagy. All different personalities sure but also similar in a way. None of them would ever be accused of being the most intense guys in the world. They weren’t known for alpha-style personalities. Guys that weren’t afraid to tell people their opinion, whether said people liked it or not.
They were affable. Coaches known for their more agreeable characters. Pat-on-the-back types. That is not Jim Harbaugh. His personality is dialed up to 11 at all times. Winning is the only thing that matters and he will do anything necessary to make sure it happens. If it requires positive reinforcement, fine. If it requires yelling and screaming, also fine. Either way, the message is always clear. Either do your job or expect the almighty wrath.
It goes further than that though.
For all the talk about his unique personality, Harbaugh doesn’t get enough credit for his actual coaching. One thing that is almost always clear about his teams is they come prepared and play hard. He tends to hire quality assistant coaches and understands how to put his players in the best position to succeed. All things the Bears need more of.
The tricky issue is the GM situation. It is possible the organization fires Ryan Pace as well. If that happens, there is a good chance his replacement may not want to consider Harbaugh as a head coach option. So either the McCaskeys would need to hire one that is or perhaps bring the head coach in with the idea they find a GM he has a relationship with. Something they’ve never done before.
This will be a fascinating story to follow as things start to unfold just over a week from now.