A fairly straightforward Vikings head coaching search took a detour this past weekend when it was learned that they had entered into talks with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
Up until then, any presumed frontrunner was a relative unknown. When the interest in Harbaugh appeared to grow more serious, culminating in a Wednesday in-person interview in Minnesota, the notion that the job was Harbaugh's to lose seemed correct.
We might not ever know how close the Vikings got to hiring him as their head coach, or how serious discussions really were or even what Harbaugh's true motivation was.
What we know is this: Harbaugh never received a job offer from the Vikings is headed back to Michigan "with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!" as he reportedly texted to the Associated Press, a phrase that is conveniently also the title of a photo book of which he is the subject.
And the Vikings quickly pivoted to Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell as their choice, the sort of coach they seemed destined to hire before Harbaugh entered the conversation.
As I talked about on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast, it was a very Vikings conclusion. Even a hire that generates genuine excitement is tinged with a sense of letdown.
This is no fault of O'Connell, who like I said seems to be the type of coach we assumed they would hire: young (36) and offensive-minded, with the sort of malleable personality that might lead to collaboration and intentional decision-making.
O'Connell might very well end up being the correct hire for the Vikings, though anyone hoping for a Kirk Cousins trade might take note of O'Connell's previous working relationship with Cousins in 2017 as Washington's QB coach.
But Harbaugh represented a big swing, even if it took some internal convincing to think it was a good idea. He went to three NFC title games and a Super Bowl in four seasons with the 49ers, winning nearly 70% of his regular season games along the way.
His personality is such that he might not have been here for a long time, but it had a chance to be a good time based on his track record.
Fair or not, that's the baggage O'Connell will inherit when he presumably formally accepts the job after the Super Bowl.
The process is quickly forgotten when results are good.
But if they're not ... the ghost of Harbaugh could linger with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.