FanDuel Puts Spotlight On Jim Harbaugh, Robert Saleh For Lions Head Coach

Written By Matt Schoch on December 15, 2020Last Updated on April 26, 2022
lions head coach

The future is uncertain for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. But even if he leaves his alma mater, the commute to his new job could still be very driveable.

In a development that will make many Great Lakes State football fans cringe, the Jim Harbaugh Experience could stick around in these parts.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Harbaugh is the co-favorite to become the new head coach of the Detroit Lions for the 2021 season.

Harbaugh has +200 odds to coach the Lions for next season, joining San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, a metro Detroit native, at the top of the list.

Other top candidates include:

  • Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (+700)
  • Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith (1,100)
  • Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley (1,100)

Detroit fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn last month. The Lions announced Tuesday that franchise icons Chris Spielman and Barry Sanders will be involved in the general manager search process.

Can you bet on the next Lions head coach in Michigan?

Well, no. FanDuel is currently only offering the market in New Jersey.

Michigan regulators added “Team, Game and Event Props” to the Sports Wagering Menu last month, though it’s unclear if this type of market would be permitted after online sports betting launches next month. Detroit’s casinos, which are regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, are currently closed because of COVID-19.

PointsBet Sportsbook in NJ also had the market posted on Monday, though it was off the board on Tuesday. Saleh was the favorite on their list at +125 with Harbaugh second at +500. But even if you can’t bet on this market in Michigan right now, the odds certainly spark plenty of conversational what-ifs and no-ways.

Mary Kay Bean, spokesperson for the MGCB, said operators would need to submit a request for consideration to the board for such a bet.

So, without further ado, here are the FanDuel odds for the next Lions coach.

Lions Head Coach Candidate FanDuel
Robert Saleh +200
Jim Harbaugh +200
Eric Bienemy +700
Arthur Smith +1100
Lincoln Riley +1100
Darrell Bevell +1200
Joe Brady +1400
Brian Daboll +1600
Byron Leftwich +1600
Marvin Lewis +1600
Matt Elberflus +1600
Todd Bowles +1600
Dan Mullen +1700
Leslie Frazier +1800
Kevin O’Connell +2000
Matt Campbell +2000
Jim Caldwell +2100
Urban Meyer +2100
David Shaw +2500
Greg Roman +2500
Josh McDaniels +2500
Dabo Swinney +2600
Dave Toub +2800
Kellen Moore +2800
Raheem Morris +3100
Adam Gase +3400

Jim Harbaugh to Lions would be… not well-received

Is FanDuel trolling Michigan State fans, Lions fans, or Michigan fans? Or everyone?

First off, Harbaugh’s NFL success is impressive.

After a great four-year run at Stanford, Harbaugh coached the 49ers to three conference finals berths and a Super Bowl appearance. He came to Michigan to restore honor to his alma mater, a hire with unlimited potential and promise.

It has gone … OK?

Harbaugh is 49-22 at Michigan, a nice .690 winning percentage. But he’s 0-5 against Ohio State and 3-3 against Michigan State, which is simply not good enough. But he still could be in line for a contract extension.

From a Lions’ perspective, much of that fan base is made up of MSU fans that despise Harbaugh. A huge sector of the University of Michigan fan base is also wary of the Jim Harbaugh Experience.

Lions fans? Well, they have their own crosses to bear.

Robert Saleh as Lions head coach? All the feelz

The Detroit Lions fan base, organization, culture, history … it’s all a lot. To break this franchise might take something extraordinary, something different.

Maybe someone who grew up right in the thick of it can help push the Lions, winners of one playoff game since 1957, out of the abyss.

Saleh was born and raised in Dearborn, Mich., and attended Fordson High School, about 3 miles from Lions HQ in Allen Park.

Saleh went to Northern Michigan, spending time on the coaching staffs at Michigan State and Central Michigan while moving up the coaching ladder.

Saleh coached the San Francisco defense to the Super Bowl last season. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers have battled injuries this year, sitting at a disappointing 5-8. Even so, Saleh has a high score and would bring a few hopeful smiles to Detroit.

A long list of Detroit Lions head coach candidates

In all, 26 names are listed by FanDuel. Saleh and Harbaugh are the clear favorites. But with Harbaugh’s current status with the Michigan Wolverines a relative unknown, the head coaching spot in Detroit probably could go to anybody.

Some of the more interesting longshot names include:

  • Current Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell
  • Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady
  • Former Lions coach Jim Caldwell, along with former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer
  • How about another New England assistant? Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
  • Former Lions quarterback and current Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore
  • Marshall, Mich., native and current New York Jets coach Adam Gase, a Michigan State alum

You have to love some of these names, most notably Caldwell. He went 36-28 in four seasons with the Lions before he was fired in favor of Patricia, who went 13-29-1 in less than three.

There’s only one guarantee, and it’s not that the new coach will fail, though jaded Lions fans might think that’s a given.

It’s that a big job awaits whoever gets the call.

Photo by AP Photo/Rick Osentoski
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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