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Why I don’t believe Harbaugh will coach the Michigan Wolverines (anytime soon)

Sometimes I write about bits of information people tell me. I refer to those people as “sources,” because it’s tough to find a better way to describe those who provide information anonymously. Other times I write about games, players, coaches and owners — posts that generally include stats, scores and quotes.

Other times I write opinion fluff pieces that come from nothing resembling a source, named or otherwise. This is one of those times. I’ll call this one “educated guess theater.”

Ian Rapoport says the University of Michigan has offered Jim Harbaugh $48 million over six years, according to “sources.” (See how fun and easy that is?) That’s $1 million more per year than Nick Saban is currently making. Big money, to resurrect what was once one of the top collegiate programs.

I have no reason to not believe the Michigan offer is real. Harbaugh may even be curious about what it’d be like to coach at his alma mater while making 60% more per year than he’s pulling in now, with the ability to live in a mansion that’d probably cost about 30% (give or take) what the same estate would cost in the South Bay. That doesn’t mean he’s going to leave the NFL, however. And here’s why.


Easter Dinner at the house of Jack and Jackie Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh: Hey John, can you pass the ham?

John Harbaugh: Sure, Jim. How you like it at Michigan? Back on the recruiting trail, huh?

Jim: Loving the challenge. Coaching is the same everywhere. Working. Working as a team, getting better each day.

John: Good, good. Must be nice to deal with teenagers again. Kids you can mold, kids who’ll listen. That’s a good spot for you. (Wink.) And hey, with that playoff you all got now in college football, winning a national title is almost like winning a Super Bowl.

Jim: (Forces a grin while sticking his jaw out a quarter-inch farther than usual, quietly seething.)


Pete Carroll’s first press conference after Harbaugh heads to Ann Arbor

Q: Pete, were you surprised that Jim Harbaugh took the job at Michigan, after all the battles you two had in the NFL?

Carroll: (Smiles) You know, not really. Jim is a great coach. Just a stud. And he’s just so darned great at building a program and he’s got a real knack for connecting with student athletes. I think he’ll thrive there, just the perfect job for him. Big man on campus. Doesn’t get much bigger than Jim, huh?

(Carroll laughs, Seattle beat writers follow suit.)

Q: There was a lot made of your battles. You are tied head-to-head at six wins apiece, I believe, if you count your time in the Pac-12 and in the NFC West. Do you feel like you came out ahead, considering how the last two years went?

Carroll: Oh, I’m not worried about that. What’s more important, wins at the college level or wins at the pro level? We could argue that all day. I guess we had the upper hand when it comes to wins at the pro level, but we’re all measured by wins and championships, right? I’d like to think that we’ve done a fairly good job in that area here in Seattle, and I’m proud of what we’ve done as a team and as a staff. And I’m sure Jim is proud of what he was able to do in Santa Clara.


The likelihood seems high that Harbaugh will coach at Michigan someday. The demand from Michigan is too great, and they’re only going to offer more money each time the job is open. But Harbaugh is so ridiculously competitive that it’s impossible for me to envision a scenario where he bolts from the NFL after falling short of the playoffs, knowing that his brother and Carroll both know what it’s like to knock him off and hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

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