Jim Harbaugh’s seventh season at Michigan was his best. At a time when some are wondering whether it will be his last, it sure didn’t sound that way after the loss to Georgia on Friday night.
“It was a great season,” Harbaugh said. “To me, it’s one of the best seasons in Michigan football, and we were trying to make it greater tonight. It’s still a beginning for this team. It’s where it began last year, and it’ll begin anew this year.”
While a far cry from “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” Harbaugh’s comments will push back against recent speculation that he’ll land with the Raiders. Harbaugh’s coaching career actually began with the Raiders, in 2002 and 2003 as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Then came his run of head-coaching gigs, from the University of San Diego to Stanford to the 49ers and then to Michigan.
Would Harbaugh leave Michigan? He recently said he’d do the job at his alma mater for free. But what if Mark Davis offers to pay Harbaugh a whole lot more than zero dollars plus benefits? Is there a number that will get him to finish what he started with the 49ers, a team he took to the Super Bowl in only his second season on the job?
Attention Matt Rhule defenders, a turnaround can happen quickly, even with a college coach.
What if other NFL teams, like Carolina, get in on the Harbaugh action? Or how about the Bears, the team that made Harbaugh a first-round draft choice 35 years ago? Sure, he tends to wear out his welcome. But he’s effective. And his seven years at Michigan suggest that he has indeed matured and grown and learned how not to need to leave town after four years.
Money always talks. The question is how loudly it may scream from an NFL team that is willing to blow the curve on getting a former college coach who, unlike Rhule and Urban Meyer, knows how to thrive at the professional level.
That said, folks in Jacksonville shouldn’t let visions of Harbaugh dance in their heads. With former 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke running the search and given that the two men grew to despise each other in San Francisco, a Florida reunion most definitely won’t be happening.