A Dumb New Vikings Theory, This Time Involving Jim Harbaugh

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Jim Harbaugh was pretty damn close to becoming the Minnesota Vikings head coach in February 2022.

A Dumb New Vikings Theory, This Time Involving Jim Harbaugh

That’s not an exaggeration; the relationship was imminent.

But the two sides couldn’t finalize an agreement, Harbaugh went back to Michigan, won a National Championship, and cultivated the Vikings quarterback to-be in J.J. McCarthy, while Minnesota hired Kevin O’Connell from the Los Angeles Rams.

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Now, a dumb new theory suggests Harbaugh could have bad blood with the Vikings over the no-hire, so much so that he allegedly might’ve held off doing trade business with Minnesota during the draft two weeks ago. A zany theory indeed, an unnamed executive believes Harbaugh would be that stubborn and long-memoried.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote this week, “Minnesota — which selected McCarthy No. 10 overall, having traded up one spot to the New York Jets’ spot — made calls through the top 10 leading up to the draft. The Vikings and Chargers talked. And one league exec wondered if Minnesota passing on Jim Harbaugh for the head-coaching opening two years ago would have caused Harbaugh to be awfully stubborn on any potential deal between the sides.”

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If true — that feels unlikely — Harbaugh would wrap his arms around a new level of petty or resentful, refusing to enhance his new team via trade assets because he was bitter about a team that didn’t hire him two years ago. In fact, it actually worked out wonderfully that Harbaugh didn’t take the Minnesota job because he returned to Michigan and won his first National Championship. He should almost thank the Vikings for not taking the plunge.

After the draft, Harbaugh personally stated that McCarthy was over the moon to be a Viking, which directly contradicts the Harbaugh-doesn’t-like-Minnesota theory. “That’s where he had his heart set, and I’m just so happy for him. Love him like a son, and I was praying and pulling for it to work out the way he wanted it to work out,” Harbaugh said at a press conference after the draft.

Mock Drafts
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh lifts up the Rose Bowl trophy after 27-20 win over Alabama at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Praying for McCarhty to land with the purple team while simultaneously not engaging Minnesota for any trade talks feels like two markedly different and competing items.

Ultimately, the Chargers landed left tackle Joe Alt in the draft, who will be a fantastic player, and Minnesota selected Harbaugh’s guy, McCarthy. Everything worked out, even if the ESPN theory was true.

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The Chargers are expected to win 8.5 games in 2024, according to oddsmakers, with Minnesota at 7.5

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.