By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has talked to University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh about the team’s head coaching position, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person characterized the meeting as a conversation, not an interview. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the team does not typically release details of its coaching search.
Charlotte Sports Live was first to report the conversation.
The Panthers’ head coaching search is expected to begin in earnest in the coming weeks.
Carolina (6-10) was eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday following a 30-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Steve Wilks has been serving as interim head coach after Matt Rhule was fired in the middle of his third season as head coach. The Panthers are 5-6 under Wilks.
Carolina is required to interview at least two minority candidates in person, and those can’t come until after the wild-card weekend if those coaches are employed by another NFL team.
Harbaugh has had success coaching at the NFL and college levels.
He coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014, winning two NFC West titles and reaching the NFC championship game three times in four seasons. He was 44-19-1 during that span and helped the 49ers get to Super Bowl 47, where they lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens.
He left the 49ers after going 8-8 in 2014 — the only season the 49ers didn’t make the postseason under his direction — to take the job at Michigan.
The 59-year-old Harbaugh has spent the past eight seasons coaching the Wolverines, compiling a 74-25 record. Michigan was 13-0 this season before getting upset this past weekend by TCU in the College Football Playoffs.
Harbaugh also spent four seasons as head coach of Stanford and three more at San Diego.
He was the AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2011 and AP College Coach of the Year in 2021.
He spent 15 seasons as an NFL quarterback, wrapping up his career with a short stint with the Panthers in 2001, although he didn’t play.
The Panthers, who have failed to reach the playoffs the past five seasons, wrap up the season Sunday at New Orleans.
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