This year marks Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski’s fourth season with the franchise.
He began his tenure with an 11-5 record in 2020 that gave the Browns their first playoff appearance since 2002.
Cleveland then proceeded to win a postseason contest for the first time since 1994 when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 48-37, in the Wild Card round.
That led to Stefanski being named the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
Ever since 2020, however, Stefanski and the Browns have struggled and finished 8-9 in 2021 and 7-10 last year.
Should the team falter again this year, owner Jimmy Haslam will most likely fire Stefanski.
— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) September 5, 2023
If that happens, Tony Rizzo thinks University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will be the next man up in Cleveland.
“Harbaugh’s not happy with the suspension and there’s people who think he’s just about had enough of college football,” Rizzo said on his radio show Tuesday. “Well, if you connect the dots, which I don’t want to do because I want Coach Stefanski to succeed, I’m already hearing rumblings about him [Harbaugh] coming to the Browns.”
Harbaugh was recently given a three-game suspension by the university for alleged recruiting violations during the Covid “dead period” in 2020.
J.J. McCarthy wears a “Free Harbaugh” shirt into the Big House for Michigan’s opener against ECU.
Jim Harbaugh’s three-game suspension is self-imposed by Michigan athletics. pic.twitter.com/9WW9eDnUgL
— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) September 2, 2023
There’s still a possibility that the NCAA could tack on a few more games to begin the 2023 season once all the evidence has been analyzed by the governing body.
Now that quarterback Deshaun Watson will be available for the entire year, Cleveland has no excuses not to return to the playoffs.
Cleveland addressed issues on both sides of the ball and added pieces for Watson on offense.
The Browns also brought in free agents and draft picks to improve Cleveland’s 20th-ranked 2022 defense.
Meanwhile, between 2015 and 2022, Harbaugh led the Wolverines to an overall record of 74-25 and seven bowl appearances.
Harbaugh also coached the San Francisco 49ers between 2011-2014.
He led the organization to a loss against his brother, John Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31, in the 2012 season.