Rumor Jim Harbaugh: Will Michigan Coach Let Wolverines Return to NFL?
The 2021 college football training carousel hasn’t finished filming yet.
According to a Tuesday report from The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh – who just led the Wolverines to their first College Soccer landing and first win in “The Game” since 2011 – “may be tempted to leave the Wolverines for back to the NFL.”
Feldman, citing sources from the NFL and at Michigan, speculates that the timing might be perfect for Harbaugh to return to the NFL, where he coached the 49ers for four years as head coach between pit stops. universities at Stanford and Michigan.
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“I think it’s true,” a source told Feldman of Harbaugh’s interest in the NFL.
Feldman in his report speculated that Harbaugh likely wouldn’t have left his alma mater, where he played from 1982 to 1986, without first beating Ohio State. The Wolverines finally broke through with Harbaugh’s first win in that series – and Michigan’s first since 2011 – with the Buckeyes’ 42-27 kill in Ann Arbor. A week later, Michigan beat Iowa 42-3 to win the team’s first outright Big Ten championship since 2003.
Michigan capitalized on those wins to take 2nd place in the playoffs, but couldn’t beat third place Georgia, which dropped 38-11 to drop to 12-2 for the season. It was Harbaugh’s 4th season with at least 10 wins. He’s been averaging 9.8 wins per season outside of the 2020 COVID-19 shortening campaign, when Michigan lost 2-4.
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All that said, Harbaugh’s shares have never been higher since he returned to Michigan. That, coupled with his proven success at the NFL level (he won 44-19-1 in four seasons and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in his second season) could make him It’s become an attractive target for some teams in need of a coach. Indeed, Feldman has reported that a number of people over the years have indicated that he will eventually return to the NFL.
And there’s no shortage of teams out there that could use his services.
Feldman considered the Raiders a top destination for Harbaugh, when he began coaching there as quarterback coach in 2002-03 under Bill Callahan. Another potential landing spot is Chicago, which drafted Harbaugh with the 26th overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft and with whom he played from 1987-93.
Both of those organizations also make sense if their future quarterback (Derek Carr with the Raiders, Justin Fields with the Bears) has been tracked.
Another team on the hunt for a coach is the Jaguars, which fired Urban Meyer during a disastrous year-long experiment in Jacksonville that failed. Other teams that may decide to switch from their coach include the Browns (Kevin Stefanski), Giants (Joe Judge) and potentially the Seahawks (Pete Carroll).
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It’s also worth considering Harbaugh’s Michigan contract amid rumors of an NFL return. Harbaugh got a sizable pay cut in 2021 after a disastrous 2-4 campaign. His base salary has been reduced from $8 million in 2020 to $4 million in 2021 and rewards him with $1 million for winning the Big Ten championship and $500,000 in prize money for winning. the Big Ten East and made it to the knockout stages. Harbaugh eventually used that bonus to pay employees in the Michigan athletics division.
Another notable aspect of his contract negotiations: His acquisition has been reduced to $2 million in 2021 and will be reduced by $500,000 annually through 2025. is an act of theft for any NFL team that wants to bring in Harbaugh. Finally, reporter Scott Bell reported that Michigan was willing to pay Harbaugh to keep him at Ann Arbor:
If you’re in charge of a team in a competitive field, any good leader will take whatever leverage they can get their hands on and use it to strengthen their team. Jim Harbaugh is about to get a raise, but I’m sure he’s also looking for his staff/program and wants reassurance in other areas as well.
– Scott Bell (@sbell021) January 4, 2022
Not sure if the rumors of an NFL return carry any weight. But it’s also worth remembering that Harbaugh, after his team’s loss to Georgia in the Orange Bowl semi-final, said it felt like a “beginning” for the show. Whether Harbaugh is around here to see through that, however, remains to be seen.