LOS ANGELES – Jim Harbaugh is leaving the national champion Michigan Wolverines to take the head coaching job with the NFL's Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Wednesday.
Harbaugh was considered one of the Chargers' most sought-after candidates in this coaching cycle due to his success at all levels. Since beginning his head coaching career in 2006 at the University of San Diego, Harbaugh has enjoyed success with stints at Stanford, Michigan and in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
There's also Harbaugh's connection to the Chargers: He played quarterback for the team for two seasons (1999-2000).
As a college coach, Harbaugh has a 144-42 record and won three Big Ten championships and Michigan's first national title since 1997.
He was 86-25 at Michigan, bringing college football's winningest program back to relevance after it had faltered for several seasons under Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez following the resignation of national championship-winning coach Lloyd Carr.
The rival Ohio State Buckeyes had an eight-game winning streak against the Wolverines until Harbaugh helped them end that streak in 2021, leading to their first of three straight Big Ten titles and their appearance in the College Football Playoff.
After two straight losses in the semifinals that extended Harbaugh's winning streak in bowl games to six, Michigan edged Alabama in the Rose Bowl and pulled away from Washington to clinch the national championship with a school record of 15-0 on the season win.
Harbaugh coached the 49ers for four seasons (2011-14) from 2011 to 2014 and was named NFL Coach of the Year in his first season. He led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his brother John.
Harbaugh left the 49ers after the 2014 season with a regular season record of 44-19-1.
The Chargers will play the Ravens at SoFi Stadium next season in what will now officially be a matchup between John and Jim Harbaugh.
When Harbaugh took over the 49ers, he rebuilt a team that had fallen out of the NFL's elite and missed the playoffs eight straight seasons.
He will have a similar challenge with the Chargers, who finished 5-12 last season and have three playoff wins since 2008. Another task for Harbaugh will be deciding on the composition of the Chargers' roster next season, as that team is expected to earn $27.5 million, according to ESPN's roster management system, the league's salary cap hovering around $1.5 million Euro.Jim Harbaugh posted an 86-25 record in his nine seasons at Michigan, leading the Wolverines to their first national championship since 1997 this season. Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire
Harbaugh and the Chargers have been linked since the start of the offseason. Still, one of the potential challenges to the Harbaugh-Chargers reunion was whether owner Dean Spanos was willing to pay Harbaugh a competitive salary that would lure him away from Michigan and other NFL teams.
While the Chargers have signed players to record-breaking contracts, the organization has developed a reputation for not paying coaches. The Spanos have denied this claim. Team president John Spanos told reporters in December that he didn't know where the “narratives” came from and that the team had never had any restrictions on spending.
The Chargers fired coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco on December 15 after suffering a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15.
The Chargers conducted an extensive search after Staley was fired, interviewing 15 candidates, the most in the league. They started internally with interim coach Giff Smith and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore before bringing in former Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, Raiders DC Patrick Graham, offensive coordinator Bengals coach Brian Callahan and former Titans coach Mike interviewed Vrabel, former Stanford coach David Shaw, Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald .
Staley finished his 48-game tenure with the Chargers with a .500 record, with a playoff appearance ending in a historic loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.