Every year, the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel compiles a list of recommended candidates for the inevitable coaching and G.M. vacancies. This year’s preliminary list includes a former NFL head coach who is currently gainfully employed as the head coach at his alma mater.
Per a source with knowledge of the list, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is on the preliminary list. Other candidates on the preliminary list include Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, and Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
Harbaugh’s presence on the list will raise eyebrows; there’s no reason to think he’ll be heading back to the NFL, and Michigan fans surely will bristle at the perception that he could be lured away. As the source explained it, Harbaugh is on the list because he’s a good coach, he is proving at Michigan that he wins wherever he goes, and he was a winner during his time with the 49ers.
Historically, Harbaugh hasn’t stayed in one place more than four years. He’s currently completing his second season at Michigan.
One omission that will raise eyebrows is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, especially since Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is on the list. Most Patriots fans would say that, currently, McDaniels is doing a better job with the offense than Patricia is with the defense — especially in light of the fact that Patricia has the support of defensive mastermind Bill Belichick.
As one source explained it, McDaniels was left of the list because the thinking is that he’s intent on staying at New England until coach Bill Belichick retires, succeeding Belichick as the team’s head coach. (Of course, under that theory there would be no reason to include Harbaugh, barring evidence he plans to leave Michigan.)
This year, the Career Development Advisory Panel consists of Tony Dungy, Charley Casserly, Carl Peterson, Bill Polian, Jimmy Raye Sr., James “Shack” Harris, Ernie Accorsi, Dick Daniels, and John Madden. Their list will be finalized on December 8, and it will be distributed to teams on December 10.