After Sunday’s NFL games, the annual round of NFL musical chairs begins. And this will prompt plenty of college coaches to take full advantage of the circumstances, if only to improve their current circumstances.
At the center of this year’s intrigue is former 49ers coach and six-year Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. He supposedly had an extension in place weeks ago, but it still isn’t done. Now, as NFL teams begin hiring new coaches, the issue has moved back to the front burner.
Bruce Feldman of TheAthletic.com reports that “[t]here is optimism inside Michigan that Jim Harbaugh‘s new deal will get wrapped up soon with an extension thru 2026.”
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports adds this wrinkle: “Michigan presented Jim Harbaugh a five-year contract extension earlier this week, per industry source. Harbaugh has yet to sign the deal. Throughout the process, he expressed confidence that his previous coaching success would become apparent in Ann Arbor.”
That last sentence suggests that Harbaugh isn’t thrilled with the terms offered by Michigan. Previous reporting suggested that Michigan was offering him a lower base salary but increased incentives based on winning.
With multiple NFL team potentially interested in Harbaugh, who had quick success in San Francisco but lasted with the 49ers only four years, it’s possible that he’s making one last run at seeing what possibly lurks behind door No. 2 before making a decision about whether to recommit to his alma mater.
However it plays out, the fact that these reports are emerging now is hardly coincidental. Even if Harbaugh doesn’t want to return to the NFL, interest in him from NFL teams could squeeze Michigan to sweeten the pot.