Only one Broncos head coach candidate has had a second interview

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh before the 2022 Fiesta Bowl against the TCU Horned Frogs at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh before the 2022 Fiesta Bowl against the TCU Horned Frogs at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Only one Denver Broncos head coach candidate thus far has gotten a second interview with the team. That lone candidate with multiple interviews (at least, that we know of) is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. It seemed as though Harbaugh withdrew his name from consideration early in the process, but that didn’t stop Broncos CEO Greg Penner from reaching out to Harbaugh and requesting an in-person meeting last week.

A request that was granted by Harbaugh. The Broncos were assumed to be the latest leverage play by Jim Harbaugh to get a new contract from Michigan. It seems to be an annual tradition at this point that Harbaugh will entertain NFL coaching rumors, perhaps even take an interview, only to go back to the Wolverines program where his “heart” is.

We can’t pretend to be super plugged into the Michigan football program and the day-to-day there — that’s not our coverage base — but from the Broncos’ perspective, this story has gotten wildly interesting.

Although many were disappointed when the news came out that Harbaugh was pulling his name from the Broncos race and remaining the Michigan head coach, it was one of those things where you kind of just shrug your shoulders and think, well, at least they tried. It was a long shot anyway.

At this point, though, the fact that Harbaugh entertained an in-person meeting with Greg Penner and Carrie Walton-Penner is more than substantial. It might be our biggest hint yet of who this team’s top target is and without question. Has the Walton-Penner group been zeroed in on Harbaugh all along?

Early on in this process, Harbaugh was considered a potential “1A” or “1B” along with Sean Payton as top targets for the Broncos. The list of candidates grew to eight official names plus a couple of potential mystery names, none of which anyone has confirmed for certain the Broncos’ interest in at this point.

Of those eight initial candidates, four have reportedly been eliminated: Ejiro Evero, David Shaw, Jim Caldwell, and Raheem Morris.

Four down.

Dan Quinn declared he’s returning to Dallas as defensive coordinator. Five down, only three left.

It appears as though DeMeco Ryans, considered “a top candidate” for the Broncos, is going to coach the Houston Texans. Six down, only two left.

The two coaching candidates remaining on the Broncos’ initial interview list are Sean Payton and Jim Harbaugh. 1A and 1B, as it were.

If the current head coaching search isn’t being expanded, and they are focused on the current candidate group, that means they’re either going to circle back to someone who was already declared to be out of the running or it’s down to either Harbaugh or Payton.

Here’s a friendly reminder that Harbaugh is the only candidate thus far with a second interview. Remember, he was the first candidate interviewed by the Broncos, an interview which took place over Zoom. That interview was rather quickly followed up by statements from Michigan’s president as well as Harbaugh stating that Harbaugh would remain Michigan’s head coach.

And then Harbaugh took the in-person interview with Greg Penner and Carrie Walton-Penner last week.

There’s still no new contract for Harbaugh and Michigan. According to all the reports out there, there’s not even a formal offer on the table from the Broncos to Harbaugh. With National Signing Day taking place on Wednesday, Michigan recruits are going to want to know who they are going to be playing for in 2023 and if Harbaugh isn’t at Michigan, they might be playing elsewhere.

There are no shortage of hurdles to clear if this would actually end up happening, but would you expect anything less with a big swing? People have been clamoring for the Broncos to schedule second interviews for a long time. As it turns out, they had one last week as it was reported they would.

It was with Harbaugh.

Now, we await the team’s final decision as it seems they are being passed up by DeMeco Ryans and perhaps other candidates. Will Harbaugh turn down an official offer? Will it be strike three for the Broncos? Or will Greg Penner hit a grand slam with this hire?