Jim Harbaugh to return as Michigan coach, committing to Wolverines while rejecting NFL interest

Despite leaving Michigan on national signing day for an interview for an opener with the Minnesota Vikings, Jim Harbaugh has decided to reject NFL opportunities to remain the coach of his alma mater, reports Dennis Dodd from CBS Sports.

“Jim Harbaugh said [athletic director] Warde Manuel that it would not be a [reoccurring issue] and he would stay in Michigan as long as he wanted,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Harbaugh, who last season led Michigan to its first all-time Big Ten championship since 2003 and its first-ever college football playoff appearance, was seen as a strong candidate for the Vikings and potentially the Miami Dolphins. Several reports over the past week have Harbaugh quitting the college game and returning to the NFL as he seeks the opportunity to win a Super Bowl.

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14), leading the franchise to the NFC Championship Game in each of its first three seasons (2011-13) and Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 After an 8-8 campaign in 2014, he parted ways with the 49ers to take over for the Wolverines a few days later.

Having previously led turnarounds at San Diego (2004-06) and Stanford (2007-10), Harbaugh is also off to a strong start at Michigan, going 10-6 in his first two seasons in 2015-16. . However, the Wolverines struggled to compete with Ohio State and other top Big Ten teams in his first six campaigns, leading UM and Harbaugh to agree to a major incentive-based contract restructuring. Last year.

Harbaugh and the Wolverines bounced back in 2021, with Michigan earning their first win over Ohio State since 2011. The Wolverines finished 12-2 overall, giving Harbaugh a new lease on life in his alma mater. .

Michigan keeps its man

It’s easy to forget seven years later, but Harbaugh leaving the NFL for Michigan was a pivotal moment in the program’s history. During Harbaugh’s tenure, the Wolverines have four 10-win seasons with a 61-24 overall record, eclipsing the 46-40 mark of the previous six years. Even though UM struggled to achieve national championship relevance, Harbaugh brought consistent competitiveness to the program.

His decision to recommit to his alma mater could not have come at a better time. The Wolverines are coming off the best season in two decades and finding themselves in the best recruiting class since 2019. Now more than ever, the Harbaugh era is on the wind. Getting it back is important for the future of the program. Putting the NFL behind him would be even more important.

Take back what’s his

After a surprisingly disappointing Covid-shortened 2020, Harbaugh agreed to revised contract terms that included a massive pay cut. The new contract would pay Harbaugh $20 million over five years, roughly half of his previous annual salary. Harbaugh played down the pay cut during his Orange Bowl press conference, saying, “It’s just money. A big deal.” However, responding to the public counting on Michigan’s best season in 25 years must have felt like sweet validation.

Now Harbaugh is in a position to demand a return to his original contract, if not more. As Harbaugh earned $4 million in 2021, Penn State coach James Franklin signed a 10-year contract that could net him up to $85 million. Michigan State coach Mel Tucker has been handed a jaw-dropping 10-year, $95 million contract. Ohio State coach Ryan Day earns over $7.5 million.

Reminding the Michigan brass that he has options outside of college football could easily have been a leverage play to remind Ann Arbor what he has. Don’t be surprised if Harbaugh agrees to the terms of a new contract soon.

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