He wanted to stay in the NFL, but with no viable options paying him at or near $8 million and Michigan ready to give him the keys to the financial kingdom, it appears that Jim Harbaugh will indeed become the next coach of the Wolverines.
“Michigan has told its biggest boosters a deal for Jim Harbaugh is done and a press conference is scheduled for Tuesday,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter (a Michigan man) reported Monday morning.
There’s still a sense of “it’s not done until it’s done” when it comes to Harbaugh and Michigan, in part because it has appeared for the past few weeks that Harbaugh is using the Michigan offer as leverage for a comparable NFL package.
Unlike Nick Saban, who seemed to be permanently leaving the NFL in the rear-view mirror when he bolted the Dolphins for Alabama after the 2006 season, many believe Harbaugh will eventually return to the NFL. His Michigan contract surely will allow him to leave for the NFL whenever he wants, and his four-year maximum shelf life with other positions will create lingering speculation that Harbaugh eventually will come back to the pro game and chase the championship he came tantalizingly close to winning.
But he’ll be welcomed as a hero in Ann Arbor, and his history suggests he’ll turn things around quickly. At some point, though, the lure of a Lombardi Trophy likely will bring him back to the NFL.