Jim Harbaugh is the Darkhorse in the Miami Dolphins’ HC search.

After naming their final two candidates for the Head Coach position, the Dolphins may have an ace up their sleeve in Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh could be a dark-horse candidate for the Miami Dolphins job
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Following the New York Giants hiring of Brian Daboll, the Miami Dolphins have seemingly moved down to two head coach candidates: Mike McDaniel and Kellen Moore. Next week, the two will interview when the Dolphins hope to make their final decision. However, a new candidate has entered the arena, and he may be of interest to the Miami Dolphins: Jim Harbaugh.

University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has reportedly scheduled an interview with the Minnesota Vikings.

This comes as a shock, as many suspected he would stay at Michigan, as opposed to returning to the NFL. However, his professional success has been significant, so the possibility of him returning to coaching can’t be ruled out.

Jim Harbaugh’s background makes him a top HC candidate for anyone.

Before leaving for Michigan in 2015, potential Miami Dolphins head coaching candidate Jim Harbaugh was among the most successful coaches in the NFL. In four years with the San Francisco 49ers, he led them to a 44-19-1 record, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2012.

His defenses never ranked below 10th in points and finished third or better in three of his four seasons. Better yet, behind coordinator Vic Fangio, they were able to grab 16 interceptions in their Super Bowl season.

Harbaugh’s success is significant with San Francisco.

Following a mediocre fourth season in San Francisco, Harbaugh decided it was time for a change. So in the 2015 offseason, he agreed to a seven-year contract worth over 40 million dollars with the Michigan Wolverines. This marked a return to college, where he coached at Stanford for four years before taking the 49ers job.

Jim Harbaugh and his relationship with the Miami Dolphins owner.

At the University of Michigan, where Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a significant donor, is where the two initially met. Ross has had the opportunity to see Harbaugh’s work firsthand and, as a result, holds him in high regard.

Even before his Michigan hiring, the Dolphins owner coveted Harbaugh, even flying out to interview him with Tony Sparano still at the helm in 2011. It was with this connection, however, that fans and media alike had found more speculatory material.

Ross apologizes for Harbaugh interview.

Ross had stated in his interview after firing Brian Flores that he’s “not going to be the person” to take Harbaugh from Michigan, but if he were planning to transition back to the NFL anyway, then he wouldn’t have to pull him away.

The Jim Harbaugh rumors are heating up.

Now that Harbaugh has interviewed with the Vikings, he’s shown that he’s willing to look into an NFL job. Thus, he now officially opens up the idea to be interviewed by other teams, including Miami.

His Michigan staff has also seen departures recently. Defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald left for the Ravens two days ago among those.

It’s under these circumstances that Harbaugh could reasonably justify a return to the league he found substantial success.

Ross also could justify hiring Harbaugh, which would help Miami without “taking” the coach from his alma mater.

While it seems like a conspiracy, it may make some sense for Miami. On top of being offensive-minded, Harbaugh also has the experience as a head coach that Miami covets. Three of their seven interviews were former head coaches, although all three were on defense.

Miami has hired several first time coaches since Wannstedt.

However, Miami’s finalists are both offensive coordinators. Harbaugh brings the opportunity to give the best of both worlds, something the other candidates cannot.

The aforementioned Vic Fangio is available after being fired by Denver, and a reunion is possible if he decides to come back. Additionally, it’s rumored that Harbaugh would bring back some of the coaches he had before his departure, looking to rekindle the fire of past successes.

What’s the endgame for Jim Harbaugh and the Miami Dolphins?

Miami will likely hire one of Kellen Moore or Mike McDaniel next week, but that doesn’t mean Harbaugh is out of the picture. He has a clear connection to owner Stephen Ross and can bring back assistants of the past.

With Miami’s vacancy, this potential move makes too much sense. Moreover, the coach who has caught the owner’s eye for over a decade may be available. So it only seems reasonable that he would at least do his due diligence.

Stephen Ross holds the most power in this scenario, and his desire for success at 81 years old has never been stronger. He may want to take a big swing at the end of his Dolphins tenure.

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