Jim Harbaugh on a ESPN NFL broadcast. Jim Harbaugh on a ESPN NFL broadcast. (Awful Announcing on Twitter.)

It’s not uncommon for game broadcasters to say positive things about particular coaches. But it’s a little more unusual for them to endorse a rumored move from a currently-employed coach. That’s what ESPN analyst Troy Aikman did during the network’s broadcast of the Houston Texans-Baltimore Ravens divisional round playoff game Saturday (also seen on ABC), though. With the network’s cameras spotlighting Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh (brother of Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh, and reported candidate for several NFL openings) in the crowd, Aikman spoke about wanting to see Harbaugh in the NFL:

Play-by-play announcer Joe Buck says “And there’s Jim, sweating through this on a cold day in Baltimore. Between interviews, I guess.” Aikman says “Yeah, I hope we see him in the NFL next year. He’s going to make somebody a heck of a football coach. He’s won everywhere he’s been, beginning when he began his coaching career at San Diego, the University of San Diego. Congratulations to him on his national championship.”

Of course, it’s unlikely Harbaugh’s stay-or-go decision will be heavily impacted by Aikman’s comments. And it’s also not like Aikman is starting a rumor here around Harbaugh’s NFL interest. Harbaugh interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers last week, and reportedly has another interview scheduled with the Falcons, so he’s putting himself into the NFL conversation on at least an exploratory basis (as he’s done before, including with an interview with the Minnesota Vikings in 2022 before opting to stay at Michigan with an extension through 2026).

But it is interesting to hear an announcer not just discuss a currently-employed coach interviewing elsewhere (which does happen, including around rumored college job to college job moves), but come down in favor of that coach making a move. And the forum here matters. This wouldn’t have turned heads on an ESPN studio show, where many of their pundits have weighed in one way or the other on what they think Harbaugh should do. But it’s more surprising on a game broadcast.

Aikman’s certainly entitled to have an opinion of Harbaugh as a coach, and to have a stay-or-go opinion on Harbaugh. And he will be impacted if Harbaugh does come to the NFL, likely winding up calling some games involving him. But it’s still a little unusual to see an announcer speak firmly during a broadcast in favor of a current college coach making a move to the NFL.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.