Chargers interview Jim Harbaugh, but more Rooney Rule requirements loom

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 1, 2024: Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh leaves the field.

The Chargers on Monday announced that they interviewed Jim Harbaugh for their head-coaching job.

Having just won a national championship at Michigan, Harbaugh is the eighth candidate the team has publicly identified.

The Chargers are searching for a replacement for the fired Brandon Staley. They also need a general manager having dismissed Tom Telesco, both moves coming on Dec. 15.

Harbaugh, 60, is the biggest name linked to the Chargers to date. His success both collegiately and in the NFL has elevated him to the top of a list of available candidates that includes Super Bowl winners Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.

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A former quarterback for the Chargers, Harbaugh began his head coaching career at the University of San Diego in 2004. He also coached at Stanford, his college teams going a combined 147-52 in 16 seasons.

From 2011-14, Harbaugh guided San Francisco to a 44-19-1 record and three consecutive NFC title games. His 49ers made one Super Bowl — where he lost to a Baltimore team coached by his brother, John — following the 2012 season.

The other coaches who have interviewed with the Chargers include two internal options: Giff Smith, who finished the season as the interim head coach, and Kellen Moore, the Chargers offensive coordinator.

They have interviewed four candidates from other teams: Patrick Graham (Las Vegas defensive coordinator), Todd Monken (Baltimore offensive coordinator), Steve Wilks (San Francisco defensive coordinator) and Mike Macdonald (Ravens defensive coordinator).

The Chargers also met Sunday with Leslie Frazier, who was out of the league in 2023 after spending six seasons with Buffalo as defensive coordinator.

Any timeline for the Chargers’ decision is contingent on the team adhering to the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires at least two external minority candidates to be interviewed in person.

The league’s new hiring guidelines prohibit face-to-face meetings with anyone employed by another NFL team until Jan. 22.

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The Chargers have requested interviews with five other coaches who work for rival teams, according to multiple reports. That group includes both of Detroit’s coordinators Ben Johnson (offensive) and Aaron Glenn (defensive).

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan also have been reportedly requested by the Chargers.

Harbaugh’s name so far has not been directly linked to any other NFL team seeking a new coach, though numerous reports have suggested Las Vegas is interested.

It also has been widely reported that Harbaugh’s representatives continue to negotiate with Michigan on an extension.

The Chargers have interviewed four general manager candidates, starting with their interim at the position, JoJo Wooden.

The others are Brandon Brown (New York Giants assistant general manager), Joe Hortiz (Baltimore director of player personnel) and Ian Cunningham (Chicago assistant general manager).

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.