Ryan Day and Justin Herbert should be happy with the decision. Not so much the Chiefs and Wolverines.
Salute! To the brave winners. Salute! To the heroes who triumphed. Salute! Salute! To the AFC West champions, the LA Bolts!
If you want, raise your voice in protest, but this is my succinct way of saying that Ann Arbor, Michigan, will never be the same. and perhaps not for one of the most despondent teams in the NFL.
The much anticipated news finally materialized on Wednesday night when Jim Harbaugh, who had just finished bringing the University of Michigan football program back to life with its first unchallenged national championship since 1948, agreed to terms to become the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers and leave the Wolverines.
‘BREAKING’: Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy Reacts to Chargers’ Hiring of Jim Harbaugh.
What comes next? Maybe a radical shift for American football’s two tiers. As the waves build, here’s an early look at the prospective winners and losers of Harbaugh’s seismic decision:
Assuming 2023 coordinator Kellen Moore is not retained, the Chargers’ highly skilled quarterback—possibly the most alluring aspect of their previously unfilled head coach position—will shortly learn his fourth offense heading into his fifth NFL season. Whatever the case, Harbaugh, the quarterback whisperer, steps in just as the Pro Bowl passer is set to enter his prime, providing Herbert and company with much-needed stability. There’s every reason to think Harbaugh will help Herbert reach his estimable potential in the near future, even though it might not happen in 2024.
Ohio State and coach Ryan Day
The Buckeyes and their coach could witness the conference’s power pendulum swing back toward Columbus after losing to Harbaugh’s Wolverines and watching them advance to win the Big Ten title each of the previous three seasons—plus the 2023 national title. This would undoubtedly also quell the rumors that Day has been facing regarding his job security in recent years. Ohio State had won four straight Big Ten titles prior to 2021, the last two under Day’s leadership.
Even though the Bolts have been spending a lot of money on player acquisition and retention for a while, the Chargers’ owners have long faced criticism regarding their dedication to winning and investing in the team. Even so, Harbaugh’s hiring is the most high-profile coaching appointment made by the team since Marty Schottenheimer joined in 2002. Additionally, Harbaugh’s hiring coincides with the team’s impending move into a lavish new practice facility in El Segundo, where the once-nomadic team with roots in San Diego will soon reside. The team’s bloated salary cap will be a challenge for Harbaugh and the new general manager. However, this team should soon have all it takes to pursue the goal for which Harbaugh was hired: winning the team’s first Lombardi Trophy.
As he leaves stage west, the seemingly never-ending Harbaugh headache from the conference has finally subsided. Along with Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, and possibly other teams also have brighter futures in the enlarged College Football Playoff format. Perhaps not in Iowa, though. We nearly forgot that USC, Oregon, and Washington were attending this year’s festivities; perhaps one of them will become the, uh, “champions of the west.”
In addition to dominating its conference since 2021, Big Blue has advanced to the College Football Playoffs the previous three seasons. Harbaugh, though, is heading to the NFL. QB J.J. McCarthy and a few other important players are in the same boat. After such incredible success, can Sherrone Moore, the team’s captain during Harbaugh’s 2023 suspensions, or whoever takes over in Ann Arbor, manage the program going forward? Or at least a very tall order.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Bolts are a better team because they don’t have a coach that will try to score on fourth-and-17 from his own 23 in the opening quarter. However, remember this: A talented roster that in recent seasons has usually given the defending Super Bowl champions everything they could handle is almost guaranteed to make a run at the AFC West crown, which Kansas City has held exclusively since 2016. The Harbaugh-barians could be at the gates very soon.
Is there anyone better off than you? TBD for the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, the AFC’s top-seeded team that is just two victories away from winning its third Super Bowl. Little brother, who was comfortably ensconced with the NFC’s San Francisco 49ers during his last NFL hitch, Super Bowl 47 notwithstanding, could suddenly threaten to upset the conference’s power dynamics, casting doubt on that question. A Harbaugh Bowl will, at the very least, take place every three years. The next one is scheduled to take place in 2024 at SoFi Stadium; the exact date and time will be announced later.