Vikings Consider $125M Coach as O'Connell Replacement

Reviving a Franchise: Harbaugh's Impactful NFL Journey.

by Nouman Rasool
Vikings Consider $125M Coach as O'Connell Replacement
© David Berding/Getty Images

In a surprising twist to the ongoing saga of the Minnesota Vikings' leadership, the team is once again facing speculation about their head coach position. Almost two years ago, Jim Harbaugh, the current head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, was on the brink of taking over the Vikings' reins.

After a marathon 12-hour interview and heartfelt farewells at Michigan, Harbaugh's appointment seemed imminent. However, the Vikings' decision-makers ultimately felt uneasy, opting for Kevin O’Connell, then the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, as their head coach.

Under O’Connell's guidance, the Vikings have posted a 20-14 record with one week left in the 2023 regular season. Despite this, O’Connell's reputation as a quarterback expert has waned, particularly after the team's faltering performance following quarterback Kirk Cousins' season-ending injury.

With their playoff hopes dwindling to a mere 2.5%, as estimated by ESPN's Power Index, the Vikings are at a critical juncture. Amidst this backdrop, the debate over the Vikings' head coach has reignited. Adam Patrick from The Viking Age has stirred the pot, suggesting the Vikings revisit the idea of hiring Harbaugh.

Currently, Harbaugh, who recently signed a lucrative 10-year, $125 million contract to stay with Michigan, is represented by a top NFL agent, indicating his openness to off-season opportunities.

Harbaugh's NFL Triumphs

Harbaugh's credentials are impressive.

He transformed the San Francisco 49ers into a Super Bowl contender almost overnight. Inheriting a 6-10 team in 2011, Harbaugh led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and a near-constant presence in the NFC Championship games, culminating in a Super Bowl appearance in 2013.

Despite his eventual exit from the 49ers due to internal conflicts, his NFL track record is notable, with a regular season record of 44-19-1 and a 5-3 in the postseason. The Michigan coach's leadership style is undeniably effective, yet infamously uncompromising.

His ability to quickly galvanize a team is proven, but his past conflicts, particularly with the 49ers' front office, raise concerns about his fit with the Vikings' management. This was a key issue during his initial interview with the Vikings, as detailed by Michigan insider John U.

Bacon. Harbaugh needed to convince the Wilf family, the Vikings' owners, of his modern approach and dispel concerns about his managerial style. Despite the allure of Harbaugh's potential return to the NFL, it remains uncertain if the Vikings would make such a dramatic change, especially with O’Connell only in his second year.

However, the Wilfs have a history of making bold decisions following significant losses, as evidenced by their absence in the locker room after a disheartening 33-10 defeat to the Green Bay Packers on New Year’s Eve.

This absence, as reported by Alec Lewis of The Athletic, hints at possible internal deliberations about the team's future direction. As the Vikings navigate these choppy waters, the question remains: Will they stick with O’Connell's developing vision or pivot to the proven, albeit controversial, prowess of Jim Harbaugh? The answer to this could shape the franchise's trajectory for years to come.