Chargers hire Jim Harbaugh as their head coach

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez writes Jim Harbaugh becoming the head coach of the Chargers makes them a contender.

LOS ANGELES — The Chargers have made a head coaching decision: they will be hiring Jim Harbaugh as their next head coach, according to multiple reports.

There was much speculation on if a deal could get done. On whether owner Dean Spanos would pay the money to get a big name like Harbaugh. Also, would they be willing to listen to the demands of their former NFL quarterback?

It is a resounding yes to both.

“This organization is putting in the work — investing capital, building infrastructure and doing everything within its power to win,” Harbaugh said in a press release from the team. “Great effort equals great results, and we’re just getting started.”

After having three head coaches in a row without any previous head coaching experience, the Spanos family wanted someone who had coaching experience.

They interviewed 15 candidates for their head coaching candidacy. After complying with the Rooney Rule, the Chargers were said to be conducting second-round interviews of “4-6 candidates.”

It turned out that Harbaugh got the only second interview, and now he is their head coach.

According to multiple reports, he had a long-term contract from Michigan but opted for the NFL. They also had to fight off interest from the Atlanta Falcons, who had planned for a second meeting with Harbaugh, but it seems like Spanos wasn’t letting him leave without a deal — smart.

Harbaugh is coming off winning a national championship with his alma mater, the University of Michigan. They beat Nick Saban’s Alabama and Washington to win their first national championship since 1997. He brought glory back to his university.

“My love for Michigan, playing there and coming back to coach there, leaves a lasting impact. I’ll always be a loyal Wolverine,” said Harbaugh.

Now, Harbaugh has been an NFL head coach before for the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons. Like the Chargers, the 49ers had fired their coach, Mike Singletary, during the season, and the team had no direction.

He quickly turned it around with the 49ers going 13-3 and turning around the career of quarterback Alex Smith, who, before the head coach got there, was seen by some in the football world as a bust.

The following season, the 49ers went 11-4-1 while facing a quarterback controversy due to an injury midway through the season. Harbaugh’s team continued to win after changing his offense to fit the style of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. They lost to Jim’s brother, John, and his Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.

That loss could be the hunger fueling Harbaugh to return to the NFL. Now that he has won a national championship, he wants to win the Super Bowl.

“Jim Harbaugh is football personified, and I can think of no one better to lead the Chargers forward,” said Spanos in the statement. 

Now, that is where the name Justin Herbert comes in. Harbaugh, quite frankly, has never had a quarterback like him, and it has been well-documented on numerous network shows that he is a big fan of the Chargers’ quarterback.

They will now get to work together.

Herbert has had a rough break in his first four seasons in the NFL. There have been some highs, but there have been many lows. 

In his first season, they didn’t reach the playoffs. In the second season, they were in a heated win-and-you-are-in-game against the Raiders, in which they lost because of some questionable decision-making from head coach Brandon Staley. In his third season, they make the playoffs and have the 27-0 meltdown against the Jaguars. During his fourth year, Staley and general manager Tom Telesco are fired in week 15 after getting blown out 63-21 against the Raiders.

Coaching matters and Harbaugh’s addition changes everything.

Look around at who is left in the final four of the NFL playoffs.

Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson. Kyle Shanahan and Brock Purdy. Dan Campbell and Jared Goff.

Obviously, the names of Purdy and Goff could raise eyebrows, but that is to say, coaching matters when it comes to the final four, then the final two, and finally the champion.

In the past, the Spanos family had not made the right decisions when it came to coaching. They shouldn’t have fired Marty Schottenheimer, held onto Norv Turner for too long, shouldn’t have hired McCoy, and the list goes on.

They have made mistakes, but this hiring should be commended because, besides drafting Herbert, there haven’t been many home runs in the last few years.

This ownership, head coach, quarterback, and fan base all crave the same thing: a championship.

They have their head coach in Jim Harbaugh, and now the real work begins. 

“For the past two decades Jim has led hundreds of men to success everywhere he’s been — as their coach,” Spanos said. “And today, Jim Harbaugh returns to the Chargers, this time as our coach. Who has it better than us?”