Jim Harbaugh approached the lectern, thanked the Los Angeles Chargers for another opportunity to coach in the NFL, made a “Shawshank Redemption” reference and proclaimed his goal is to win “multiple” Super Bowls.
The former Michigan coach’s force of personality and colorful analogies were on display as he was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Chargers on Thursday in Inglewood, Calif.
“We’re in one of the great cities there is. One thing I know is Los Angeles, Southern California, they respect talent, effort and winning,” Harbaugh said. “And it needs to be multiple, multiple championships. And we’re gonna be humble and hungry, but that’s our goal.”
Harbaugh’s introduction lasted more than an hour. Before Harbaugh held court with reporters, Chargers owner and chairman Dean Spanos introduced the 60-year-old and told him that the franchise “will do everything in our power to provide you with whatever support and tools you need to be successful.”
The Chargers have gone 36-47 with one playoff appearance in the past five seasons, but they have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert for Harbaugh to build around.
Harbaugh, who went on to bring up his love for the sports comedy series “Ted Lasso,” said his excitement about moving to the Chargers was reminiscent of a certain classic film.
“If I could describe it to you, it’d be like Morgan Freeman in ‘Shawshank Redemption.’ … What a free man would feel before a long journey,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh’s departure from his alma mater, weeks after guiding Michigan to a national championship, may not exactly be a prison escape — although there was the possibility he would face additional discipline for alleged recruiting violations during the COVID dead period or a sign-stealing scandal.
The former San Francisco 49ers coach was asked why he left college now, and why he chose the Chargers.
“I felt that the Spanos family, the Chargers organization, they made it feel they liked what I did and how I did it,” Harbaugh said. “That’s all you could ever want from somebody that’s employing you. Love of Michigan, but loved the NFL and this opportunity.
“As my dad would say, who’s got it better than us?”
Harbaugh has made a winner out of every team he’s coached. FCS San Diego went 29-6 during Harbaugh’s three seasons (2004-06) before his four-year tenure at Stanford (2007-10) ended with a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl victory.
With the 49ers, he went 44-19-1 in four seasons and lost Super Bowl XLVII to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens before a nine-year, 89-25 tenure at Michigan.
Only three head coaches have won both a college national championship and a Super Bowl: Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Pete Carroll, Harbaugh’s now-retired nemesis in the Pac-12 and the NFC West.
“I want another shot to be simply known as world champions,” Harbaugh said. “The Lombardi Trophy. That’s my mission. Happy and grateful to have this opportunity and already attacking, already a lot of work getting done.”
Harbaugh played the final two seasons of his 14-year NFL playing career with the then-San Diego Chargers in 1999-2000.