The Jim Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor may not be over after all. Despite failing to meet the expectations that many had for him when he arrived, the Michigan head coach is reportedly weighing the option of a new contract.
However, the new contract will include a lower base salary and buyout.
The news comes from John U. Bacon, a New York Times Bestselling writer from Ann Arbor with sources close to the program.
On Monday evening, Bacon revealed in a series of tweets that Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has discussed the new terms with Harbaugh, but Bacon also made it known that NFL teams have expressed interest in him as well.
Harbaugh can now accept, negotiate, or decline. At least five NFL teams have expressed an interest in hiring him – per usual – though not clear if any have made firm offers yet. (2/2)
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 8, 2020
One of the big selling points here would be the reduction in pay. Harbaugh is one of only four head coaches in college football making over $8 million, and the other three — Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, and Ed Orgeron — have all won national championships. Since his success at Michigan has been rather limited, the reduced salary makes sense.
There are also built-in incentives, but they involve Harbaugh producing on the field in some big games.
It is strange that Harbaugh didn’t already have the necessary provisions to hire top assistants, however. The inclusion of this provision now indicates that current assistants on staff will become the scapegoats for Harbaugh’s continued failures.
We also can’t ignore the part about NFL interest. That news isn’t necessarily a surprise, but the number of teams reportedly interested might be.
Harbaugh sure is getting a lot of chances at the University of Michigan, despite an 0-5 record against Ohio State, 11-16 record against top 25 teams, a 3-3 record against Michigan State and zero Big Ten championships.
Maybe he is the opposite of Nick Saban, though? After success at the NFL level, he falls short of expectations as a college head coach and then returns to football’s highest level and builds a dynasty…
Stay tuned for more updates on contract length and other important details. These will determine if both parties have made the right move, although some Wolverine fans will want to part ways with Harbaugh, regardless of the details.
The timing is still weird, though. Harbaugh and the UM athletic department discuss an extension just as his team is about to take on their biggest rival as a 30-point dog? 2020 is wild.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.