Jim Harbaugh is headed back to the NFL, this time as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we got him,” the Chargers posted to X on Wednesday.
The announcement comes on the heels of an ultra-successful season in which Harbaugh led the University of Michigan to its first national championship since 1997 and after a nine-year stint as the Wolverines’ head coach.
“Jim Harbaugh is football personified, and I can think of no one better to lead the Chargers forward,” Chargers owner and chairman Dean Spanos said in a statement.
“The son of a coach, brother of a coach and father of a coach who himself was coached by names like (Glenn Edward “Bo”) Schembechler and (Mike) Ditka, for the past two decades Jim has led hundreds of men to success everywhere he’s been — as their coach,” the statement read. “And today, Jim Harbaugh returns to the Chargers, this time as our coach. Who has it better than us?”
Harbaugh’s final season with Michigan was not without drama — he was suspended for fully half of the regular season in two separate investigations.
The Big 10 conference suspended him for the last three games of the regular season after he was caught in the middle of a sign stealing scandal. He had already sat out the first three games after he accepted the university’s decision to suspend him over accusations that he made false statements to NCAA investigators who were looking into alleged recruiting violations during the coronavirus pandemic.
Harbaugh’s new position confirms swirling rumors that he would take his talents to the NFL once again, after two off-seasons interviewing with the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos, respectively, the NFL said in a news release.
Harbaugh clinched the head coaching position after two interviews with the Chargers, an NFL news release said.
The Chargers fired their previous head coach and general manager after a brutal 63-21 beating by the Las Vegas Raiders last month.
Harbaugh first met with the team a month later, on Jan. 15, according to The Associated Press, making him the eighth of 15 candidates to meet with Spanos and his family to try their hand at the role.
He was the only one to get a second interview, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh was playing the field. He had an interview with the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 16 and scheduled a second interview with the team before he committed to the Chargers, the AP reported.
Harbaugh’s new role makes him the first Charger to return to the team as head coach, the AP reported. He wrapped up his playing career as a quarterback for them during the 1999 and 2000 seasons before he retired in 2001.
In his lengthy NFL career, he also played for the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers ahead of the 2001 season but did not play a game there.
After he wrapped up his time as a quarterback, Harbaugh made the shift to coaching. His most notable coaching stint was with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014.
Harbaugh’s time with the 49ers earned him his first Super Bowl appearance as a head coach, resulting in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens and his brother, head coach John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh’s on-field talents were first recognized when he started his football career at the University of Michigan. He returned to coach the Wolverines for the 2015 season with hope of turning around the winningest college football program ever.
“My love for Michigan, playing there and coming back to coach there, leaves a lasting impact. I’ll always be a loyal Wolverine,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “I’m remarkably fortunate to have been afforded the privilege of coaching at places where life’s journey has created strong personal connections for me.”
Coming off a 5-12 season, the Chargers will hope Harbaugh does the same for them as he did for the Wolverines, with the help of quarterback Justin Herbert.
“When I played for the Chargers, the Spanos family could not have been more gracious or more welcoming. Being back here feels like home, and it’s great to see that those things haven’t changed,” Harbaugh said.