It hit me this morning that we’ve been in this space long enough that we’re now covering a second Bears head coach hiring cycle that involves Jim Harbaugh. No, seriously.
But this instance feels different.
On Tuesday, a report surfaced hinting Harbaugh is tempted to leave Michigan to return to the NFL. And, yes, the Bears are mentioned. In previous years, this is where the post would come to a screeching halt. But this time, it’s not. Not when, one day later, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman (whose original reporting is the source of Harbaugh’s interest in coaching professionally again and mentions the Bears in his article) name-checks the Bears as a possible ideal situation during an interview on The Rich Eisen Show:
Here’s the part you need to see:
“If he really wants to go back to the NFL, this might be an ideal situation,” Feldman says regarding the timing of Harbaugh possible leaving Michigan for the pros. “In addition, there is another franchise that he knows very well. That he has some, from what I’m told, some really positive feelings toward the people there. And that’s in Chicago with the Bears.”
Sure, the Raiders are still in the mix. But they’re not the only team in town. And if the Bears ultimately pull the plug on the Matt Nagy era, there is a real possibility that Chicago’s football team could have a mutual interest in hiring Harbaugh themselves.
“There’s a shot,” long-time Chicago sports media fixture David Kaplan said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “They’ve taken a run at Jim Harbaugh before. I’m telling you this guy’s in play.”
That is quite the limb to go out on. But one that might be a little sturdier than one might otherwise expect, especially in the wake of building buzz connecting Harbaugh and the Bears. Again … this thing isn’t going away quietly into the night.
All things equal, Harbaugh makes a ton of sense as a Bears head-coaching candidate. And not just because he was a Bears first-round draft pick in 1987 who was a QB on the team from 1987-93.
Hiring Harbaugh would be a departure (of sorts) from what we have previously seen with this franchise. Harbaugh would be the most accomplished football coach the Bears have ever brought in from the outside. He has success at the pro and college levels. And it would be a step away from the line of coach hirings this team has made in its recent history. Since firing Mike Ditka, the Bears have hired Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman, John Fox, and Matt Nagy. Of that group, Fox and Trestman were the only ones with previous head coaching experience. And Fox was the only to have done so in the NFL. Going from Nagy’s inexperience to someone with Harbaugh’s résumé would make for a unique change of paths. One that should interest the Bears.
We still have a ways to go before the Bears make any coaching hire. And the list of possible candidate figures to be intriguing. Whether it ultimately includes Harbaugh will make for a fun waiting game. But in a world where Michigan can beat Ohio State in football, I know better than to rule anything out.
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