Broncos owner Greg Penner reportedly traveled to Ann Arbor to meet with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh last week concerning the franchise’s head coach vacancy, despite the Wolverines coach stating firmly that he would remain with the program on Jan. 16.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the follow-up meeting between Penner, Denver’s general manager George Paton and Harbaugh was one of due diligence as the Broncos leadership carried out the same assembly with the seven other candidates vying to become the franchise’s next coach. However, a deal between Harbaugh and the Broncos failed to come to fruition.
Harbaugh has been widely connected to Denver’s head coach opening and initially conducted a virtual interview with the Broncos on Jan. 9. But the Wolverines coach pulled his name out of the running to become Denver’s next coach when Michigan president Santa Ono tweeted after a phone call he had with Harbaugh, confirming that Harbaugh would remain with the program.
Harbaugh credited his love for the “relationships” he has built with his coaches, staff and administration as key reasons to why he chose remain in Ann Arbor.
“My heart is at the University of Michigan,” Harbaugh said in a statement on Jan. 16. “I once heard a wise man say, ‘Don't try to out-happy, happy.’ Go Blue!”
However, before Ono made Harbaugh’s decision public, Harbaugh reportedly called the Broncos to let them know that he would not be accepting the head coaching job if it was offered to him, according to Schefter.
Aside from interviewing Harbaugh, the Broncos have interviewed former Saints coach Sean Payton, former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, former Stanford head coach David Shaw, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and current Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.
In the past two seasons, Harbaugh has led the Wolverines to record-setting heights. During the 2021 campaign, Michigan went 12–2, beat Ohio State for the first time in a decade, won the Big Ten title and appeared in the Orange Bowl.
In 2022, Michigan dismantled Ohio State and won the Big Ten championship but lost to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. During Harbaugh’s stint in the NFL, he posted a 44-19-1 record as the 49ers’ coach from 2011 to ’14 and led the organization to the NFC championship game three times.
He also guided San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII in the 2012 season.