February 5, 2023

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USATSI

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has talked with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper about the Panthers’ vacant head coach position, according to ESPN, though the conversation was not characterized as a formal interview. NFL Network previously reported that the Panthers as well as the Denver Broncos were interested in speaking to Harbaugh for their openings. 

Harbaugh told reporters after his courting by the Minnesota Vikings in February 2022 that it was the last time that he would pursue an NFL job and characterized the attempt as a “one-time thing” to the Detroit Free Press. However, Harbaugh has quickly found himself right back in the NFL coaching carousel after a second Big Ten championship and trip to the College Football Playoff. 

Harbaugh has actually been at the center of NFL coaching rumors for years after a highly successful tenure with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14. The 49ers reached the Super Bowl during the 2012 season as Harbaugh posted a 44-19-1 record overall in the pros. Three of his four seasons finished with 11 or more victories, and he won the NFL Coach of the Year award in 2011. 

The Panthers looked to the college ranks for their last hire, Matt Rhule, who was fired fewer than three years into his tenure. Harbaugh, however, has experienced success at the NFL level, making this a far less risky hire for Tepper. Interim coach Steve Wilks has also received consideration for the job after taking Carolina from 1-5 to 6-10. Rhule has since taken over as head coach at Nebraska. 

Harbaugh has transformed Michigan into a national power over the past two seasons. The Wolverines won consecutive outright conference championships for the first time since 1992 and earned back-to-back trips to the College Football Playoff. Michigan lost to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal over the weekend as 8-point favorites, marking the biggest upset in College Football Playoff history. 

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