Michigan players took possibility of Jim Harbaugh leaving in stride

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The Michigan football program spent a couple of weeks, again, wondering whether coach Jim Harbaugh will be back in 2023. So during that period of football limbo, what did the players think?

Defensive lineman Mazi Smith recently shared some of his thoughts with Christopher Breiler of SI.com.

Don’t nobody talk about it,” Smith (pictured with Harbaugh) said of the mood while the coach’s status was in doubt. “We’re kind of trained to be like, once something becomes a reality, then we can react. But until then, what are you going to do?”

Smith has been through it before. He was recruited by former Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. And then Mattison left for Ohio State before Smith arrived.

“I learned early that this isn’t about personal relationships or friendships, this is about business, and this is about winning,” Smith said. “And just like I want to move on at some point and go to the NFL for my career, the coaches are in the same boat.”

Indeed they are. They always have been. It’s about time that players have the same flexibility as coaches do.

For Harbaugh, his true flexibility will be demonstrated by the terms of his next contract. In the current cycle, he could have left for an NFL job with a mere $3 million buyout.

Last year, Harbaugh interviewed with the Vikings. This year, he interviewed with the Broncos and spoke with the Panthers, before deciding to stay put.

3 responses to “Michigan players took possibility of Jim Harbaugh leaving in stride

  1. Sounds like a Harbaugh-coached guy. Blocking out things that aren’t things yet and might never become things. Those are distractions, and you can’t flinch. That’s a big part of Harbaugh’s success. It’s not only about X’s and O’s. Harbaugh tries to recruit mentally strong kids and help make sure they stay focused. I mean, his Michigan teams don’t have the talent Ohio State has. Some of the kids in his program have never lost to Ohio State. Right now, Harbaugh owns Ohio State. He’ll never leave Michigan. Bo Schembechler never left Michigan and he had a lot of NFL opportunities. Harbaugh won’t leave either, and his kids know that. They’re having too much fun. They’re smart kids. They definitely aren’t naive, and they understand the way business works. It’s always in your own best interest to at least listen to offers. The more people coming after you, the higher your price tag. Harbaugh teaches through words and through action. This is a great example of “action”. Cha Ching!

  2. Could the whole thing have been a ploy to get more cash out of UM? The attention also stroked his understandably massive ego. I hope he gave Tepper some good info when they met.

  3. Who cares? If he really wanted to get back to the NFL and if any teams actually wanted him, he’d be back. There’s something about that guy, maybe his sleepovers, but he makes people uneasy.

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