Jim Harbaugh has long been the fan-favorite option to be the next head coach of the LA Chargers. At the end of the day, though, Harbaugh holds all the chips as he can choose to return to Michigan if he so pleases.
While there are several promising signs that point toward Harbaugh joining the Chargers, the team has to prepare for a world in which he goes back to college. That is why the team has cast such a wide net of interview candidates this offseason and is taking its time with a decision (something the team did not do with Brandon Staley).
On Thursday the most exciting non-Harbaugh head coaching option was revealed to be a candidate for the Chargers as former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel will interview with the team. It is Vrabel's first confirmed interview since being let go by the Titans.
Chargers are preparing for life without Jim Harbaugh by interviewing Mike Vrabel
Mike Vrabel is, without a doubt, the best head coaching candidate for the Chargers if Harbaugh decides he wants to stay at Michigan. Vrabel is experienced, elevated a not-that-talented Titans team multiple times and knows what it takes to establish a winning culture. He is not quite Harbaugh, but he has all the tools a great head coach.
By interviewing Vrabel the Chargers are preparing for a potential life without Harbaugh. That is not to say that Harbaugh is guaranteed to return to Michigan, or that the Chargers even have doubts. The team could still be all-in on Harbaugh and is just doing this as a contingency plan. But at least having this contingency plan is extremely smart.
The worst thing the Chargers could do would be to put all the eggs in the Harbaugh basket only for him to return to Michigan as he has in the past. If the Chargers are not prepared for that decision then they could be burned and may be left with a choice of not-so-great head coach options.
Obviously, if Harbaugh wants the Chargers job then the team would be foolish to give it to Vrabel over him. If the Chargers gave Vrabel the job over Harbaugh because of cost or Harbaugh's desire for some roster control then fans would be justifiably upset. But that does not seem to be the case, as Vrabel may truly just be a plan B.
Vrable should be a well-sought-after coach this offseason but with no other confirmed interviews, he may not be as coveted as fans initially thought. This allows the Chargers to keep Vrabel as a plan B as other teams aren't breaking down the door to interview him. If another team offers him a job before the Harbaugh situation unfolds he has every right to take it, but just getting him in the building for an interview is the right move for the Bolts.
Fans don't want to imagine a future without Jim Harbaugh but the fact of the matter is that it is possible. Thankfully, the Chargers are preparing for that just in case.