The Minnesota Vikings decided to clean house after another disappointing season.
They fired Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman after eight and ten seasons, respectively, with the franchise.
Their tenure ended with two losing seasons and only three playoff appearances.
Team owner Zygi Wilf must have thought that making a high-profile hiring at the head coaching position would help turn things around.
But while several coaches signified interest for the position, none was more glamorous than Jim Harbaugh.
The Minnesota 49ers, Almost
However, Harbaugh did not land the role and remained as the Michigan Wolverines head coach.
It’s mind-boggling that he was willing to leave a college program that showed tremendous improvement last season for a middling NFL franchise that hasn’t reached the Super Bowl since 1976.
Harbaugh’s salary of a little over $4 million is not bad compared to what NFL head coaches made.
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) February 2, 2022
Despite the rewards of staying as a collegiate head coach, he floated his name in the conversation for new Vikings head coach.
His interest makes sense because the team’s new general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, was the San Francisco 49ers’ football research and development manager during Harbaugh’s stint in San Francisco.
Their contributions enabled the Niners to enter the playoffs three times during the Harbaugh era.
As a testament to Harbaugh’s coaching, he led the Niners to three NFC Championship Games and nearly won a Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
With Jim Harbaugh returning to Michigan it looks like Paul Finebaum still has a job at ESPN
— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) February 3, 2022
Having him on board would energize every player on the Vikings roster.
But it’s not time yet to make an NFL return.
Michigan Is Still His Best Option
Harbaugh is in an enviable position because he will always have suitors in the NFL.
The transformation he did with the 49ers was so remarkable that the team improved by seven wins when he took over.
When he left, Jim Tomsula led the team he built to a 5-11 mark in his only year as 49ers head coach.
Harbaugh also has a good thing going in Michigan after leading them to College Football Playoff this year.
The Wolverines will remain a national powerhouse despite David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson playing out their eligibility.
Jim Harbaugh called Michigan to inform the school that, despite interviewing with the Vikings today, he will be returning to school for the 2022 season, sources tell ESPN. Michigan was, in the words of one source, “elated” to get Harbaugh’s decision.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 3, 2022
On offense, the quarterback duel between J.J. McCarthy and Cade McNamara can take them to a higher gear.
He also has more control in Ann Arbor because fewer eyes will monitor his moves.
Harbaugh has complete control over the program except for perhaps the athletic director.
Job security isn’t much of an issue because the Wolverines remain one of the better teams in the Big Ten.
There’s no sense leaving an ideal situation for a potentially messy tenure in Minnesota.
Jim Harbaugh said he is done chasing NFL jobs 👀 pic.twitter.com/ms9WHEW3b1
— PFF (@PFF) February 4, 2022
The pay might be higher, but it’s hard to attain peace of mind when more people keep track of his personnel decisions.
Never forget that a falling out with then-49ers general manager Trent Baalke was the reason for his divorce from the team.
No one can guarantee that a repeat won’t happen if he ever accepted the Vikings’ role.