John Harbaugh: Hiring brother Jim Harbaugh would be 'wise choice' by Vikings

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Even during a Baltimore Ravens news conference Wednesday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was a topic of interest.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is Jim’s older brother, and during a news conference introducing new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who returned to the Ravens after one season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, younger brother Jim came up.

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh (left), shown here with brother Jim in 2016, said the Vikings would be making a "wise choice" in hiring the Michigan head football coach.

It was a big day Wednesday. It was the first day of the National Signing Period for high school athletes, Harbaugh formally introduced Macdonald, and oh, Jim Harbaugh was interviewing for the Minnesota Vikings' head-coach vacancy. There was no purple smoke scene coming from the Vikings facility Wednesday signaling a new hire, and Harbaugh was expected to remain in Minneapolis overnight.

Before taking over at Michigan, his alma mater, he spent four seasons coaching the San Francisco 49ers, went to three NFL championship game and lost in his only Super Bowl appearance to his brother.

John Harbaugh was asked if he expects to be coaching against his brother at some point in the near future.

“Well, I’ll tell you — he’s interviewing at Minnesota, is that the rumor?” John Harbaugh said to reporters.

A reporter asked if Jim Harbaugh was in Florida on Wednesday, joking he couldn’t keep track.

“No, he’s not in Florida today. I can debunk that rumor,” Harbaugh said, drawing laughter. “I think he’s in Minnesota, unless the plans changed in the last few hours. But if he’s in Minnesota, I’d be happy to play him in the next three years. If anybody understands how the schedule in the NFL works, they understand what that means. So, that would be awesome. That would be great.

“I’ll tell you, and I’ll sing his praises. I always do every time someone asks, (and) I’m happy to do it. I think he’s one of the very best coaches in the National Football League, maybe, even ever, and in college football, and I think he’s the best. So, if the Minnesota Vikings are smart enough to get that done, then they’ll be making a wise choice.”

The brothers are close and confidants. They’re also each other’s biggest defender. After Jim Harbaugh won the AP Coach of the Year award last December, John Harbaugh shared his joy and took a swipe at local media.

“To be the coach of the year in college football is a pretty remarkable accomplishment, and to do it the way they did it this year, after being written off by so many, is a good feeling," John Harbaugh said. "I’m happy for him. He’s always been a great coach. And for all those who wanna pile on, especially some of the local media there, there you have it. Back in your face.”

Jim Harbaugh just completed his seventh season at Michigan and led the program to a 12-2 record, a Big Ten conference championship, the program’s first since 2004, and a spot in the College Football Playoff national championship. During his Michigan coaching career, he was 1-5 against Ohio State, the lone victory last season, and 3-4 against Michigan State.

But while 2021 was the most successful season he has enjoyed at Michigan, Harbaugh has had an itch to return to the NFL and made clear to recruits this offseason that he would entertain any NFL interest.

During the Ravens news conference, Macdonald was asked despite just signing on as Ravens defensive coordinator, would he want to take the Michigan head-coaching job.

“Yes, Mike. What about that?” John Harbaugh said, laughing.

“I respectfully would decline — yes, absolutely,” said Macdonald, who rejuvenated Michigan’s defense last season. “I’m home here. I’m happy here.”

Now it's about whether Jim Harbaugh will be at home with the Vikings.

Twitter: @chengelis