ESPN’s NFL experts preferred Jim Harbaugh over all other candidates.
Would Jim Harbaugh ever return to the NFL? Well, that remains to be seen, but if ESPN’s NFL experts had their way, most would try to hire the Michigan head coach.
ESPN ran a poll of its 45 NFL pundits (reporters, analysts and former players) and asked each of them to rank 1-to-5 on a ballot the five coaches they would hire if they ran an NFL franchise. The stipulation: no one could nominate a current NFL head coach.
The responses were a mix of NFL assistants, college head coaches, former players and coaches and even one high school coach. The man who garnered the most votes was Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh (95 points, nine first place votes) beat out Stanford head coach David Shaw (86 points), New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (85 points), Alabama head coach Nick Saban (59 points) and ESPN commentator/former NFL coach Jon Gruden (58 points).
In Harbaugh’s one NFL stop in San Francisco, he took over a 6-10 team and went 44-19 over the next four seasons — which included a heartbreaking three-point loss in Super Bowl XLVII. Before that, he inherited a 1-11 Stanford team and went 29-21 over four seasons. Most recently, he inherited a 5-8 Michigan team and has gone 28-11 in the three seasons since.
You can see ESPN’s full voting breakdown here.