Los Angeles Chargers Agree to Terms with Jim Harbaugh as Head Coach

Los Angeles Chargers Agree to Terms with Jim Harbaugh
Courtesy: Chargers

Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers reached a deal today for Harbaugh to become head coach. Harbaugh, who played quarterback for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, has been the head football coach at the University of Michigan for the last nine years.

Harbaugh is a graduate of Stanford University. After leading Michigan to three straight Big Ten titles, three straight College Football Playoff berths, and a perfect 15-0 record this past season that saw the Wolverines declared 2023 National Champions, Harbaugh has returned to the Chargers.

Owner and board chairman Dean Spanos stated, “Jim Harbaugh is football personified, and I can think of no one better to lead the Chargers forward.” Over the past 20 years, Jim has trained hundreds of guys to success wherever he has been. He is a coach’s son, brother, and father who was personally coached by Schembechler and Ditka. Jim Harbaugh is back with the Chargers today, but this time he’s our coach. Who is in a better place than us?

According to John Spanos, President of Football Operations, “you don’t build a resume like Jim’s by accident, and you don’t do it by yourself.” A team is necessary. And in recent memory, no one has assembled a club more well and consistently than Jim Harbaugh. Both his opponents and his former teammates swear at him. We are thrilled to have Jim back as our head coach because he is truly unique to the Chargers organization.

Having led collegiate teams to a 144-52 record and the NFL to a 49-22-1 record, Harbaugh brings with him a winning culture. He guided the San Francisco 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship Games in just four years, and he even made an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.

Over his nine seasons at Michigan (2015–23), Harbaugh developed nine players that were ultimately selected in the first round, demonstrating his talent recognition and player development skills. In his four seasons (2011–14) with San Francisco, Harbaugh guided 17 players to a total of 30 selections to the Pro Bowl, which is the second-highest number of Pro Bowlers in NFL history. The Associated Press also named eight of those players as first-team All-Pro choices, including linebackers Patrick Willis (twice) and NaVorro Bowman (three times).

My affection for Michigan endures since I played there and returned to coach there. I’ll be a devoted Wolverine for eternity, Harbaugh declared. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to coach in settings where my life’s journey has forged meaningful personal bonds with me. All of those experiences—from coaching alongside my father, Jack, as an assistant at Western Kentucky, to serving as an assistant with the Raiders, to leading USD, Stanford, the 49ers, and Michigan—carried importance and felt deeply personal. The Spanos family was the most kind and welcoming to me during my time as a Chargers player. Returning here feels like coming home, and it’s wonderful that those things haven’t altered.

We understand that we have to earn our way since the only job that starts at the top is digging a hole. Make an effort to improve upon yesterday’s performance. Make tomorrow better than today. My top three priorities are football, family, and faith. We will pursue each of them with a zeal that has never been seen in human history. This organization is working hard, building infrastructure, investing money, and exerting all of its might to succeed. We’re just getting started, but tremendous work equals great outcomes.

In his nine seasons as head coach, Harbaugh, one of the most successful football coaches in history, guided Michigan to an 86-25 record. His teams reached the 10-win mark six times, qualified for the CFP three times in a row (2021–2023), won the national championship this past season, and broke the school record with fifteen victories. Since joining the Wolverines as head coach in 2015, Harbaugh has led the best defense in the country, giving up just 291.0 yards per game. Over those nine seasons, Michigan’s defense finished in the top five in the nation five times, including two times as the top defense overall.

After leading the 49ers to an NFC West division title with a 13-3 record in his debut season with San Francisco, Harbaugh was named 2011 NFL Coach of the Year by The Associated Press. With 38 interceptions that season, the defense led the NFL and led the league in rushing defense, giving up just 77.3 yards per game on the ground.

The group advanced far in the playoffs, making it to the first of three consecutive NFC Championship Games. In 2012, they also made it to Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers led the NFL in rushing defense (92.0 yards per game) during Harbaugh’s four seasons in San Francisco. They also ranked second in scoring defense (17.4 points per game), third in total defense (310.2), and fourth with 122 takeaways.

Before taking the helm at the NFL, Harbaugh led Stanford University for four years (2007–10) and the University of San Diego for three (2004–06). After leading the Cardinal to 29 victories during his four seasons in Palo Alto, California, he turned around a Stanford program that finished 1-11 in 2006. His 2010 season included a 12-win campaign that ended with an Orange Bowl victory. At San Diego, where he made his head coaching debut, Harbaugh guided the Toreros to a 29-6 record in three seasons.

From 2002 to 2003, Harbaugh led the Oakland Raiders’ quarterbacks as their head coach. The Raiders advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII in quarterback Rich Gannon’s first season with the team, and he was named MVP, a Pro Bowler, and an AP first-team All-Pro.

During his 15-year NFL career (1987–2001), Harbaugh was a quarterback for five different teams, spending 1999–2000 with the Chargers. While still an NFL player, he began his coaching career as an unpaid assistant at Western Kentucky, where his father, Jack, was the head coach, from 1994 to 2001. In the 1987 NFL Draft, Chicago chose Harbaugh with the 25th overall pick.

He went on to start 140 of his 177 career games while throwing for 26,288 yards and 129 touchdowns. After leading the Colts to an AFC Championship Game appearance, he was selected for the Pro Bowl and cameback player of the year in 1995, when he led the NFL in passer rating. After all, Harbaugh spent two seasons with the Chargers and is one of four quarterbacks for the Bolts to throw for 400 yards in a single game.

At the University of Michigan, Harbaugh was a quarterback and one of the most effective passers in college football history at the end of his career. As a starter for the Wolverines, he recorded a 21-3-1 record, was selected to the first team of the All-American team, and placed third in the 1986 Heisman Trophy voting. In 1985, Harbaugh led the country in passing efficiency rating. After leaving Michigan, he spent more than 12 years with the greatest career passing efficiency rating in NCAA history.

Credits: Chargers

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