Jim Harbaugh cited unfinished business in the NFL as his reason for becoming the Los Angeles Chargers’ head coach after nine seasons at Michigan.

“It was tough,” Harbaugh told CBS Sports on Sunday. “I was torn, my wife, kids. I love Michigan. But I love the NFL, too. And there’s no Lombardi Trophy in college football. And I got so many sands left in the hourglass. And I wanna take a crack at that. And there’s nowhere better to do it than with the Los Angeles Chargers.”

The Chargers announced Harbaugh’s hiring Wednesday, landing one of the NFL’s top coaching candidates this year. The 60-year-old – who played quarterback for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000 – went 86-25 on Michigan’s sideline and helped the school win the national title this past season with a 15-0 record. Los Angeles was looking for a new sideline boss after firing Brandon Staley midway through the regular season amid a 5-9 start.


In addition to having a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, L.A. owns the fifth overall pick in the upcoming draft.

“I was a little starstruck meeting Justin,” Harbaugh said.

Herbert is coming off his worst NFL season. The 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year missed four games in 2023 due to injury, finishing the campaign with a 65.1% completion rate to go along with 3,134 yards and 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Helping Herbert put his game back on the right track will be one of Harbaugh’s main challenges. He also needs to reshape L.A.’s roster, as the club is projected to be $44 million over the salary cap in 2024, according to Spotrac.

“We work together, we win together, and it’s worth it,” Harbaugh said Sunday when asked what message he wants to send his new team.

This will be Harbaugh’s second stint as an NFL head coach. He coached the 49ers from 2011-14, posting a 44-19-1 record and helping San Francisco reach the NFC title game thrice. The Harbaugh-led Niners also played in Super Bowl XLVII but fell short against the Baltimore Ravens.