MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings won't be hiring Jim Harbaugh as the team's next head coach.
Harbaugh, 58, was in the Twin Cities on Wednesday to interview in-person at TCO Performance Center for the head coaching job after Mike Zimmer was fired on Jan. 10. Fox 9 has confirmed that after interviewing with the Vikings' ownership group, he contacted officials at Michigan and said he would be returning to the Wolverines' program for the 2022 season.
Harbaugh met with Vikings's management for several hours on Wednesday, but was never extended an offer.
Reports out of Michigan Tuesday night indicated a deal between Harbaugh and the Vikings was a formality, especially with Harbaugh making the trip to Minnesota on National Signing Day for high school recruits. He's been the head coach of the Wolverines since 2015, and just finished leading them to a 12-2 season, a Big Ten title and the program's first appearance in the College Football Playoff. Harbaugh is 61-27 in seven seasons with the Wolverines.
Harbaugh's 2022 class at Michigan is ranked in the top-10 in the country with seven top-300 recruits. He reportedly held conversations with players this week that he was considering a move to the NFL, and might leave if he got an offer.
Harbaugh has ties to now Vikings' general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, which led to his initial interview. He was in the San Francisco 49ers football research and development department in Harbaugh's final two seasons as head coach. Harbaugh coached the 49ers from 2011-15, leading San Francisco to the NFC title game three times in four seasons, and the 2013 Super Bowl. Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons with the 49ers.
The decision left the Vikings' ownership group with three finalists to replace Zimmer: Rams' offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and New York Giants' defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Patrick Graham.
According to Tom Pelissero with NFL Network, the Vikings are targeting O'Connell to be the team's next head coach. A deal cannot be finalized until after the Super Bowl as O'Connell and Morris are busy preparing the Rams to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium.
The Vikings' management team flew to Los Angeles Monday to hold in-person interviews O'Connell and Morris. The Vikings also met in-person with Graham on Tuesday at TCO Performance Center. Morris and Graham were reportedly informed on Wednesday that they're out of the running for the head coaching job.
O'Connell, 36 years old, is in his second season with the Rams as offensive coordinator and overlapped with Adofo-Mensah in 2016 with the 49ers. O'Connell worked in special projects at the time when Adofo-Mensah was in the team's analytics department.
Zimmer spent eight seasons in Minnesota and went 71-56-1. But it was time for a change after the Vikings missed the NFC Playoffs for the second straight year, third time in the last four seasons and the fifth time under Zimmer.