CFB: The Harbaugh Era Ends at Michigan

NCAA Football Sports News


  • Jim Harbaugh accepted the position as new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers Wednesday, leaving Michigan after leading them to the 2023 national title.
  • Harbaugh is back in the NFL after coaching the San Francisco 49ers for four years (2011-14) and leading them to three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.
  • Michigan is expected to promote assistant Sherrone Moore to new head coach.

Jim Harbaugh is going out a winner. 

After directing Michigan to a national title, Harbaugh accepted the job as new head coach for the Los Angeles Chargers Wednesday. It is a five-year contract.

It’s back to the NFL for Harbaugh. He had a successful stint with the San Francisco 49ers in the early 2010s (along with quarterback Colin Kaepernick) before butting heads with leadership there.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Michigan’s future odds at Michigan sportsbooks for next season. As of Thursday morning, DraftKings and FanDuel each had the Wolverines as seventh pick to win the 2024 title at +1400. They were fifth in the original postings.

The Harbaugh Legacy 

Harbaugh was not everyone’s cup of tea at Michigan, especially early, when his team struggled to win big games. But things started to change three years ago with a beatdown of Ohio State (Michigan fans love that) but two appearances in the College Football Playoff ended in heartbreak.

This year, the Wolverines went all the way to No. 1 and stayed there. They dumped Ohio State (again) then destroyed Iowa for the Big Ten title. They edged Alabama in OT in the playoff semifinals and dominated Washington to win it all.

But off the field….things weren’t so smooth. Harbaugh took a self-imposed suspension for three games to start the 2023 season, and then got caught up in the sign-stealing scandal and was suspended for the last three weeks of the season by the Big 10. He finishes 86-25 at Michigan.

Michigan administrators all said the right things Wednesday, but you know a few of them are happy to see him go.

Harbaugh in the NFL 

It’s forgotten by many, but Harbaugh had a good NFL career, mostly as a back-up quarterback with the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and ended his career with the San Diego Chargers.

(People hailing Harbaugh’s return to the Chargers should realize that he never played for the LA Chargers). He became a coach right away, working at the University of San Diego and then Stanford before getting the job with the Niners.

First with Alex Smith at quarterback and then Kaepernick, the Niners became an elite team, reaching the Super Bowl where they lost to Harbaugh’s brother John and the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31, in 2013.

Harbaugh then clashed with Niners GM Trent Baalke for reasons never 100 percent made clear and went to Michigan. Kaepernick became a controversial figure for his kneeling protests.

What Happens at Michigan Now? 

Most expect Moore to be promoted to Michigan head coach. Moore is from Kansas originally, played at Oklahoma and has been the Wolverines offensive line coach. He was the acting head coach for one of the games during Harbaugh’s first suspension and was the head coach for three games during the second Harbaugh suspension.

Moore has the credentials, but he’s also not a Michigan Man, for a school that prides itself on such things.

I’ll be interested to watch the next few years to see if Michigan and Harbaugh are truly done forever. Harbaugh has moved around so much, and you just know that if the Michigan job comes open again Harbaugh’s name will come up. You can’t tell me that the minute Michigan loses to Ohio State again (if it happens), that there won’t be some alumni asking for him to return.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.