Jim Harbaugh calls Michigan president to say he’s staying
Jim Harbaugh is staying at Michigan, a decision he personally gave the school president to end another round of speculation that he would return to the NFL.
“I just got off the phone with coach Harbaugh and Jim shared with me the great news that he is going to remain as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines,” University of Michigan President Santa Ono shared on social media Monday. “That is fantastic news that I have communicated with our athletic director Warde Manuel.”
One minute later, Michigan football shared a statement from Harbaugh on Twitter.
“My heart is at the University of Michigan,” Harbaugh’s statement read in the post. “I once heard a wise man say, `Don’t try to out-happy, happy.’”
Harbaugh and the school have not reached an agreement on a contract extension, but both sides plan to work on a new deal this week, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the negotiations were not announced.
The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers spoke with Harbaugh about their head coaching vacancies this month and he was mentioned as a potential candidate for the Indianapolis Colts, one of four teams he played quarterback for in the league from 1987 to 2000 after being a star for the Wolverines.
On Signing Day last year, Harbaugh interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings before they targeted Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for the job opening instead.
Harbaugh has been linked to many other NFL jobs in most of the offseasons since he returned to his alma mater to lead the football team in 2015.
After failing to beat rival Ohio State for years, he has helped Michigan beat the Buckeyes and win the Big Ten title in two straight years.
The Wolverines have fallen short of winning their first national championship since 1997, though, with College Football Playoff semifinal losses to TCU and Georgia.
Harbaugh seems set up for more success, at least in the conference, with All-America running back Blake Corum returning to a backfield with running back Donovan Edwards and quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
Harbaugh, the AP NFL coach of the year in 2011 and AP college coach of the year a decade later, seemed to be intrigued by the lure of the league again this winter.
He coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014, winning two NFC West titles and reaching the NFC championship game three times in four seasons. He was 44-19-1 during that span and helped the 49ers get to the Super Bowl a decade ago, where they lost by three points to the Baltimore Ravens, led by his brother, John.
Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers after going 8-8 in 2014 — the only season the 49ers didn’t make the postseason under him — to turn around Michigan.
The 59-year-old Harbaugh has a 74-25 record in eight seasons with the Wolverines, who were 13-0 this season before getting beat in a sloppy game by the Horned Frogs. Harbaugh also spent four seasons as head coach of Stanford and three more at San Diego.
Entering his ninth year at Michigan, it appears he will have to deal with an NCAA investigation regarding potential rules infractions.
The investigation is believed to involve impermissible texts and calls — including some by Harbaugh — to high school prospects during part of a pandemic-related dead period for contact with potential recruits, a person with knowledge of the situation told the AP.
The NCAA was also looking at whether a member of Michigan’s off-field football staff violated rules by doing on-the-field coaching during practice and whether Harbaugh was forthcoming about it, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Michigan officials were not making details of the investigation public.