New Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh ‘was a little starstruck’ upon meeting Justin Herbert

New Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh walks on the field at M&T Stadium.
Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh walks on the field before the AFC championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at M&T Stadium.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Jim Harbaugh won’t be officially introduced as the Chargers head coach until Thursday.

But the lovefest between him and quarterback Justin Herbert has apparently already begun, with the new coach admitting Sunday that he “was a little starstruck” meeting his new QB for the first time.

In an interview on CBS before the AFC championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, Harbaugh mentioned Herbert as one of the reasons he’s leaving Michigan for a second stint as an NFL coach.


“I love Michigan, but I love the NFL, too,” said Harbaugh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014. “And there’s no Lombardi in college football. I’ve got so many sands left in the hourglass, and I want to take a crack at that. And there’s nowhere better to do it than with the Los Angeles Chargers — Susie Spanos, Dean Spanos, Ed McGuire, John Spanos and this great quarterback.”

The Chargers do the right thing by hiring Jim Harbaugh, a coach who has won at all levels, in college and the NFL.

Jan. 24, 2024

Asked if he had talked to Herbert yet, Harbaugh said he had.

“I was a little starstruck to meet Justin,” the man who just coached Michigan to the NCAA national championship said about a quarterback who has led the Chargers to one postseason appearance and no playoff wins during his four seasons with the team.

Justin Herbert greets players before a game.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert greets players before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 7 at SoFi Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Was it Herbert’s long, flowing hair that garnered such a reaction from his new coach? Actually, Herbert had a freshly cut (but still well-styled) look at the Chargers’ final game of the season earlier this month, so that couldn’t be it.

Clearly, Harbaugh was referring to Herbert’s undeniable skills and seemingly still untapped potential at the position Harbaugh once played for the Chargers and several other NFL teams. Herbert was named the Associated Press offensive rookie of the year in 2020 and made the Pro Bowl the following season. He was second in the league for yards passing in 2021 and 2022 and has completed 66% of his passes for 17,223 yards with 114 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.

The Chargers posted a clip of Harbaugh’s comment on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday and wrote “we’d be starstruck too.”

As for Herbert, Fox Sports personality Colin Cowherd said last week he received texts from the quarterback indicating that he was “very excited” about having Harbaugh as his coach.

Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, parents of Chargers coach Jim and Ravens coach John, cherish football memories with their sons.

Jan. 24, 2024