Andrew Luck may play a role in helping vet the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Jim Irsay has already fired Frank Reich to hire Jeff Saturday off the street to be the interim, so do not be shocked by anything the Indianapolis Colts owner does going forward.
With the Big Ten Championship Game being held at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday between Michigan and Purdue, Andrew Luck will reportedly be back in Indianapolis as a special guest of the Colts. Luck’s former college coach at Stanford is Michigan head coach and Colts’ Ring of Honor member, Jim Harbaugh. The Colts might be the job Harbaugh would come back to the NFL for…
Harbaugh infamously interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings job that went to former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell during National Signing Day last February.
Indianapolis is one of two NFL teams without a long-term solution at head coach. Michigan may be undefeated and heading back to the College Football Playoff, but Harbaugh has been dying to scratch that NFL itch of his since it hit the fan for him with the San Francisco 49ers back in 2014.
Not saying this will happen, but Harbaugh to the Colts would not be the most shocking thing ever.
Indianapolis Colts: Is Andrew Luck helping vet the franchise’s next head coach?
There is a lot to unpack here. The first is Luck no longer lives in Indianapolis 24/7. He has gone back to school at Stanford to do graduate work this fall. While Luck made a rare public appearance in Indianapolis for last year’s national championship game as part of him being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, he did resurface during a Stanford game very early on in this season.
The second thing to know is Irsay is a second-generation NFL owner. His late father Robert brought the team from Baltimore to Indianapolis infamously overnight in 1984. Since graduating from SMU in 1982, Irsay has held a multitude of roles in the Colts organization prior to becoming the owner full-time in 1997 at the age of 37. Harbaugh also played for the Colts from 1994 to 1997.
Yes, that was a very long time ago, but Harbaugh and Irsay’s paths crossed for about as long as Harbaugh’s did with Luck’s at Stanford. Keep in mind that Harbaugh left for the NFL prior to Luck’s redshirt junior season in Palo Alto in 2011. Although Luck is one of the most likable and respected guys to ever be associated with football, he was considered to be much closer with David Shaw…
Given that Shaw just resigned from coaching Stanford, maybe he is the sleeper-agent candidate here? Probably not, but the former Stanford wide receiver did coach in the NFL and knows both Harbaugh and Luck very, very well. Either way, Harbaugh and Shaw are two long-time college football head coaches people have had little doubts about succeeding at the highest of levels.
We also may not want to rule out this being a ploy to surprise Luck with being inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor. Harbaugh was inducted for doing far less than Luck did as a quarterback years ago, based pretty much entirely on his 1995 NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign. Then again, the Colts are playing on the road this weekend vs. the Dallas Cowboys in Jerryworld…
Even if we are tinfoil-hatting it a bit here, we can understand why Irsay could have reported interest in hiring Harbaugh away from Michigan. With Harbaugh in his late 50s, this is about the last time he can realistically go back to the NFL as a head coach. Once an established college head coach gets into his early 60s, it is hard to envision him wanting to take on the slog that is the NFL.
At this point in Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching career, he has done enough to stay for as long as he would like. He led his alma mater to the College Football Playoff for the first time ever last season. The Wolverines are 12-0 heading into the Big Ten Championship Game vs. a massive underdog in Purdue. So the Wolverines are going back to the playoff, may be as the biggest threat for Georgia?
And that right there is precisely why Harbaugh would go back to the NFL. Michigan plays very similarly to Kirby Smart’s Georgia program, but not to the defending national champions’ level. Though this year’s Michigan team might be better than the last, Georgia ran roughshod on the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl. They might be meeting again in a few weeks over in Los Angeles.
In short, Harbaugh may have hit his ceiling at Michigan. Unless Georgia beats Georgia first, who is beating Georgia this year? Harbaugh came back to Ann Arbor to help save his alma mater’s broken football program. He did more than that, and then some. Unfortunately, geography and academic standards are two things Michigan has working against it when it comes to taking down a Georgia.
Ultimately, nobody will blame Harbaugh if he were to leave Michigan for the Colts after nearly a decade leading his alma mater. It was a much stranger situation in San Francisco when he left for Michigan. However, one of the two NFL teams he is most closely associated with as a player has a high-profile coaching vacancy. Not saying he would make the jump, but a clean break could be had.
Being smooth has never been Harbaugh or Irsay’s thing, which makes this potential marriage a fit.