Jim Harbaugh left Ann Arbor for Chicago once before, albeit under totally different circumstances. Harbaugh was a Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines in the 1980s before embarking on a decade-plus NFL career with several teams, his first being the Chicago Bears. Although he is having great success back leading his alma mater, he could exit for the NFL in 2024.
Depending on how Michigan's season goes, and what becomes of the alleged sign-stealing scandal that cost Conner Stalions and Chris Partridge their jobs, Harbaugh could leave his alma mater for another stab at leading an NFL team. He achieved great success previously at Stanford before taking over the nearby San Francisco 49ers about a decade ago. Harbaugh is older, but he is very youthful.
While appearing on The Herd With Colin Cowherd, NFL insider for The Athletic Dianna Russini said that the Bears have had initial conversations about possibly hiring Harbaugh away from Michigan if they decide this isn't good enough anymore with Matt Eberflus at the helm. Again, the Bears were Harbaugh's first NFL team, he already lives in the midwest and Chicago is not sold on Justin Fields.
Here's the interview between Cowherd and Russini where she spoke on Chicago's Harbaugh interest.
Keep in mind that Harbaugh also has NFL ties to the two places with head-coaching vacancies currently. The last team he played for was the 2001 Carolina Panthers. Upon retiring from playing, Harbaugh immediately got into coaching, joining Bill Callahan's 2002-03 Oakland Raiders staff as the Silver and Black's quarterbacks coach. Expect for Carolina and Las Vegas to have interest in him, too.
While the Bears, Panthers and Raiders are not good jobs, Harbaugh is still an exceptional head coach.
NFL rumors: Jim Harbaugh could be the Bears' Matt Eberflus replacement
Look. I would expect more than two jobs will open up in the NFL besides the ones in Charlotte and the Las Vegas Raiders. Chicago would certainly be among them, as would a fourth team Harbaugh has NFL ties to in the Los Angeles Chargers. He too played for the Bolts during his 15-year NFL career out of Michigan. All four of these franchises would be beyond foolish to not at least interview him.
While there could be other jobs of interest coming available soon, you could argue all four mentioned with Harbaugh ties could conceivably land him. The Panthers have Bryce Young and the Chargers have Justin Herbert. Although Fields and Jimmy Garoppolo do not feel like long-term solutions on their current teams, the Bears and Raiders may be in a good position to draft a rookie quarterback.
Harbaugh could conceivably take over in Chicago, overdraft his Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy in the top 10 and work for a former Big Ten commissioner he actually may have respected at one point in team president Kevin Warren. Of course, all four of the franchises are inherently dysfunctional. Then again, Harbaugh thrives in chaos, elite at powering through the awkwardness.
Truthfully, I think the Bears would be a good fit for Harbaugh, but there could be better jobs for him.