5 things to know about new Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh

The Chargers have an agreement in place with Jim Harbaugh to become their next head coach.

Here are some things to know about the lifetime football coach and recent college football national champion.

Success in both the college and pros

It’s probably the same thing you’ve read everything else, but it’s true: Harbaugh is a winner wherever he goes. At San Diego, he was responsible for the only 11-win seasons in school history. He brought Stanford to national relevance with an 11-win season and the first BCS Bowl victory in school history.

What separates Harbaugh from most college coaches is that he was then able to take his success to the pros. His NFL experience in San Francisco is defined by an NFC Championship, multiple playoff appearances, and a 49-22-1 record.

After a power struggle with the Niners, Harbaugh returned to his alma mater at Michigan and cemented his college legacy with a national championship.


Harbaugh probably wouldn’t be identified as an offensive or defensive specialist, specifically in the same way traditional coordinators are hired for head coaching positions. But both sides of the ball for him at any of his stops play tremendously hard and physical.

Michigan’s secondary flies around with a smothering presence up front under Jesse Minter and Harbaugh. In a similar but different fashion, many remember the 2010 49ers defense filled with guys like NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis laying the smackdown.

That aspect of culture that Harbaugh can build is sorely needed for the current Chargers’ defense.

The Chargers went big game hunting

Harbaugh will be the first Chargers’ head coach with prior head coaching experience since Norv Turner was hired in 2007. And unlike Turner, Michigan’s head coach will command a high salary over his current coaching contract.

The Chargers reportedly put a premium on experience in this head coaching search per reports. Harbaugh was undoubtedly one of the top candidates in the field in that regard, in addition to football coaching lifers like Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll.

While Brandon Staley and Anthony Lynn were decent candidates for promotion to head coach in their own rights, there was a certain cache they couldn’t bring to the table as the lead guy at the time of hiring. The Chargers valued that level of proven football acumen in this search instead of letting an unproven commodity grow.

What also shouldn’t be understated is what it took to pry Harbaugh away from Michigan. The Chargers had to go all out in this pursuit, and by all accounts, they did.

A full Rolodex for potential staff hires

Harbaugh comes loaded with names that could be placed on his coaching staff as he plans to build that out in Los Angeles. From Michigan to as far back as Stanford, quality talent could be the new Chargers’ head coach.

Jesse Minter and Greg Roman have been heavily rumored and thrown about the process for the defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator positions, respectively. But even if not one of those selections, there are plenty more potential connections to hit on.

David Shaw, a fellow interviewer for the head coaching job, was Harbaugh’s OC at Stanford. Ed Donatell, Ejiro Evero, Pep Hamilton, and others have also worked with Harbaugh at various stops. Of course Jay Harbaugh also notably serves as special teams coordinator and safeties coach at Michigan.

Whoever the hires end up being, there’s an excellent pool for Harbaugh to choose from—far more than even the examples listed in the previous paragraph.

Not just a head coach, but a CEO

The Chargers’ GM search is also in the process of continuing as the team hires Harbaugh. But the former Michigan HC is also built differently as a candidate in this stage of his career than the more recent group of Chargers’ head coaches. Regardless of who the Chargers hire as GM, the effort in LA is more likely to be collaborative than Harbaugh being directly under someone.

Ideologies and egos clashed in San Francisco when Trent Baalke and Harbaugh eventually parted ways following a power struggle in 2014. The new Chargers’ head coach can now oversee the roster and have significantly more say in personnel decisions than his previous NFL tenure.

As a culture builder in the NFL and an outright program builder in college, Harbaugh knows how difficult the task ahead is. And he believes he can be the one primarily in charge of executing it.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire