Michigan OL: Jim Harbaugh will ‘do whatever’s best for him’ with Minnesota Vikings

Detroit Free Press

MOBILE, Ala. — Jim Harbaugh could be leaving Michigan football to return to the NFL, news that does not come as a surprise to one of the most prominent linemen on last year’s college football playoff team.

“I heard the rumors,” former Michigan tackle Andrew Stueber said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl. “I’ve kind of been disassociated from it a lot, but yeah I’ve been paying attention to it, really, but I knew, especially after a really good season, a lot of people would want him. So we’ll see what happens.”

Harbaugh has emerged as a top candidate with for the Minnesota Vikings job. He had exploratory conversations with the Vikings last week and is scheduled to fly to Minnesota to interview today.

Harbaugh, who is 61-24 in seven seasons at Michigan, previously worked in the NFL as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011-14 and as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders.

In San Francisco, Harbaugh worked with new Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, though it is not known how close their relationship was.

Harbaugh’s name has been abuzz at the Senior Bowl this week, where two coaching agents who do not work with Harbaugh but are familiar with the coaching landscape in the NFL told the Free Press they expect Harbaugh to take the Vikings job if offered.

MORE: Why Lions’ Dan Campbell is nervous he’ll lose defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn

Stueber called Harbaugh “a smart guy” but said he does not have any insight on his coach’s decision-making process.

“He’ll do whatever’s best for him,” Stueber said. “Obviously, I hope he stays. He’s my coach all five years at Michigan, but if he does leave to go to the pro level it’s just another connection for me at the next level so it’s not the worst thing. But yeah, I wish him the best.”

Harbaugh led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and made two other NFC championship game appearances in San Francisco before his tenure ended amid strife in 2014.

If Harbaugh returns to the NFL — the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars also have job openings that Harbaugh has not been linked to — Michigan State fullback Connor Heyward said he would have no problem playing for his former rival.

“I mean, I wish him the best,” Heyward said. “If the Vikings get me, they get me. I can’t say anything bad.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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