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Jim Harbaugh’s decision could affect USC’s future and Caleb Williams’ future

The intrigue surrounding Jim Harbaugh is once again overflowing. It seems to be this way every January, but this time, it might truly be the end for Harbaugh at Michigan.

Fatigue at being hounded by the NCAA and disgust at the Big Ten Conference and new commish Tony Petitti could drive Harbaugh back to the NFL for his last head coaching stop. Harbaugh would no longer have to concern himself with recruiting or NCAA compliance. He could simply coach, maybe with some say in personnel, at an NFL organization.

Harbaugh led the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII over a decade ago. He has coached in multiple NFC championship games. He obviously has a strong track record and — should he choose to leave Michigan — would be the top candidate for numerous NFL teams.

Harbaugh’s decision — stay at Michigan or leave for the NFL — will significantly affect USC and USC football fans. The effects on USC football are obvious. Harbaugh leaving would weaken Michigan’s position heading into 2024, giving USC more of a chance to move up in the Big Ten Conference. If Harbaugh’s replacement doesn’t hit the mark, USC could gain more of a foothold in its new league.

USC fans are primarily interested in that plot point, but they’re also wondering where Caleb Williams will start his NFL journey. Harbaugh’s decision affects that storyline as well.

If Harbaugh goes to the Los Angeles Chargers, who already have Justin Herbert at quarterback, the effect on Caleb Williams’ future will be minimal. However, if Harbaugh goes to the Chicago Bears or Washington Commanders, Williams might be coached by Harbaugh himself.

The Chicago scenario is particularly intriguing. If the Bears hire Harbaugh, it would mean current coach Matt Eberflus will be fired. The industry consensus is that Eberflus will be retained by the Bears unless they can swing a deal for Harbaugh. If Eberflus stays, the odds the Bears stand by Justin Fields at quarterback improve. In that case, Chicago likely trades the No. 1 pick and another team takes Williams with that selection.

Harbaugh will affect both USC football and Caleb Williams with his decision, whenever it is made. The suspense is considerable. The stakes are high.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire