MORRISSEY: Hoping, praying for Jim Harbaugh as Bears’ next coach
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The best thing about khaki pants and a blue sweatshirt is that they are transferable.
What works on the sideline at Michigan Stadium would work on the sideline at Soldier Field.
That should be the Bears’ first selling point to Jim Harbaugh: If you accept our offer to be coach, your fashion sense won’t have to change. Blue is beautiful!
Should Jim Harbaugh leave Michigan to coach the Bears? Makes sense
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While we’re on the subject of sense, would any coach make more sense than Harbaugh to take over for John Fox in 2018? Here’s someone who has been extremely successful in the NFL and the college ranks. Here’s a forward-thinking, energetic, slightly-off-his-head leader who played quarterback for the Bears for seven seasons.
The Bears believe that rookie Mitch Trubisky will be their quarterback for the next 10 years. Harbaugh would be an excellent choice to take him from Point B to Point C.
He also would be an excellent choice to take the Bears from not mattering to mattering again.
It’s not completely analogous, and it’s more than a little unfair, but Fox is to Rick Renteria what Harbaugh would be to Joe Maddon. It’s unfair because Fox has taken two franchises to the Super Bowl, and Renteria’s first managing job was with the Cubs — and he lasted one season. But the larger point is that Fox has had his chance, and now it’s time to bring someone in to take the Bears and Trubisky to the next level.
Harbaugh has a reputation for coming in like a fireball and eventually flaming out. And that’s OK. Take advantage of the madness and the genius for three or four years and see if the Bears can grab the Super Bowl title that has been eluding them quite easily since 1985.
The 49ers said they were sick of him and his act when he packed up his tent and pitched it in Ann Arbor. Three seasons in, they still love him at Michigan. They love his quirkiness. They love the way he has embraced social media to at least give the appearance of a fun-loving coach with few inhibitions. Never mind that the guy is as tight as the laces on a football.
Lots of people in Chicago were excited when the Bears hired Fox to take the place of Marc Trestman. They were excited about his two conference championships, but they were mostly excited he wasn’t Trestman. Three years later, the excitement has been replaced by a lot of nothing. Fox hasn’t had much to work with, but even so, his impact has been minimal. He and the Bears had Sunday off, but could anyone tell?
Harbaugh was the 49ers’ coach when Colin Kaepernick went from a relatively unknown second-round pick to a dual-threat quarterback who took over for an injured Alex Smith and helped lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance in his second season. The next year, Kaepernick and the 49ers made it to the NFC Championship Game.
That’s the kind of transformative coach the Bears need. They need a coach who can help a young quarterback develop. They need someone who can create the perfect conditions for Trubisky to be a star. Maybe Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is doing that. I don’t know. What I do know is that the Bears are 12-28 under Fox and that coaches who finish last in their division three years in a row generally don’t get a fourth year. The Bears are fourth in the four-team NFC North midway through this season.
Harbaugh signed a seven-year contract with Michigan in December 2014. His buyout wouldn’t be prohibitive. According to the Detroit Free Press, if he were to leave after this season, his third, he would owe the school four-sevenths of his $2 million signing bonus — $1.1 million. He’d also have to pay back a loan for an insurance policy. He makes $5.7 million a year, about the same as he did with the 49ers. Fox reportedly makes $4.25 million a year.
Why would Harbaugh want to come to Chicago? It’s a good question. He has a great situation at one of the best football programs in the country. He wants to win a national championship at a school hungry for one.
But the very things that brought him to the Wolverines could bring him to the Bears. He is, by nature, impatient. He gets itchy. He spent three years at the University of San Diego, four at Stanford and four with the 49ers.
Michigan’s tradition drew him to the job. He was raised in a football family, with dad Jack a longtime college coach. He appreciates history. The Bears would be attractive to someone who likes name brands. They are one of the NFL’s original franchises. This is a place he used to call home. This is a team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl in what feels like forever.
It’s also one that has blue in its uniform. Hey, it’s a start.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.