Michigan football: What to make of the latest Jim Harbaugh rumors

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

If Michigan football‘s head coach Jim Harbaugh was ever going to skip town and return to the NFL, this seems like the perfect time.

Just because it’s the ‘perfect time’ doesn’t mean it will actually happen.

For Michigan football fans, these latest rumors surrounding Jim Harbaugh are nothing new; many will tell you that the offseason hasn’t officially begun until you hear that Harbaugh is considering leaving the Wolverines.

Well, I guess the offseason has begun. The latest rumors suggest that coach Harbaugh is considering a return to the NFL with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Harbaugh’s and Raider-owned Davis’ are family friends.

Also, the Raiders is actually where Harbaugh got his start in coaching as the teams’ quarterback coach back in 2002. After spending two seasons in the position, Harbaugh accepted his first head coaching gig with the San Diego Toreros.

From there, Harbaugh went on to excel with Stanford before quickly turning the lifeless San Francisco 49ers into Super Bowl contenders. After failing to see eye-to-eye with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, the two decided to part ways allowing Michigan football to welcome their former quarterback home.

If Jim Harbaugh were ever going to leave Michigan football, it would be a perfect time, but I wouldn’t count on it.

As you know, things didn’t exactly go as planned with the Wolverines until this past season. Harbaugh couldn’t find the recipe to beat the program’s archrival Ohio State, plus they’ve struggled to dominate their inner-state rival Spartans.

After losing five straight to Ohio State, Harbaugh finally got over the hump in 2021, beating the Buckeyes, winning his first Big Ten title, and the program’s first in 17 years plus clinched a berth in the College Football Playoff, finishing the year with a stellar 12-2 record.

Harbaugh has put the Wolverines back on the map; if he decided to leave for the NFL, he could do so with a clear conscious and despite all of the struggles throughout his tenure, he’d be remembered for what the program accomplished this past season.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic is reporting that Harbaugh is considering returning to the NFL.

It’s been frequently documented that Harbaugh took a 50% pay cut before the season, and Feldman also suggests that Harbaugh likely wants a raise even despite claiming just a week ago that he loves his job at Michigan he’d do it for free.

Although that’s an exaggeration, it speaks volumes to how much Harbaugh loves Michigan, but his resume also illustrates how much he enjoys the west coast and warm weather. We will soon find out which is a priority.

Last season Michigan extended Harbaugh through the 2025 season at $4 million per season, rather than his previous $8 million per season base salary. Harbaugh did have plenty of bonuses built into his deal which he was able to unlock in 2021.

Earlier in the year, Harbaugh mentioned that his bonus money would be donated to the athletics employees whose pay had been affected by the pandemic.

This begs the question; how did Harbaugh really take having his salary slashed in half?

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If Harbaugh had been offended by the decision, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him explore alternative options, but don’t rule out the Raiders or even the Chicago Bears coaching rumors just a way for Harbaugh to leverage Michigan football into not only returning his salary to $8 million annually but perhaps more.