Despite interviewing for NFL position, Jim Harbaugh will remain at Michigan


Photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

U-M’s football coach, Jim Harbaugh.

The proverbial broken record continued to play again this January, as “Jim Harbuagh to the NFL” rumors ran rampant on social media.

Seemingly every football offseason, Jim Harbaugh is rumored to be a leading candidate for a vacant head coaching position in the NFL, and this year was no different.

After a dreadful 2020 campaign which saw the Wolverines struggle to a 2-4 record, change was needed in Ann Arbor. University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel opted to keep Harbaugh around, but it came with a restructured contract.

Harbaugh’s salary was cut from $8 million to an incentive-based $4 million. Despite the salary cut, Harbaugh was ready to bring his team back to where it belonged.

And he did just that in 2021. After what was arguably the program’s worst season ever, Harbaugh led his team to a 12-2 overall record. He also brought the school its first win over Ohio State since 2011, its first Big Ten championship since 2004, and its first ever College Football Playoff appearance.

Following the Wolverines’ 34-11 defeat at the hands of the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs, Jim Harbaugh had some things to think about.

Initially, Harbaugh’s name was being thrown around for the head coaching position for teams such as the Las Vegas Raiders and the Chicago Bears. However, nothing materialized of the rumors.

After weeks of rumors and speculation, it was finally reported that the Minnesota Vikings were going to fly Harbaugh into town for an interview. 

After what was reported to be a 9-hour-long interview, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Harbaugh would remain at Michigan.

“Jim Harbaugh called Michigan to inform the school that, despite interviewing with the Vikings today, he will be returning to school for the 2022 season, sources tell ESPN,” Schefter reported. “Michigan was, in the words of one source, ‘elated’ to get Harbaugh’s decision.”

No one may ever know what transpired during the interview, but it truly was a turn of events for the ages. Prior to Schefter’s report, some news outlets began reporting that Harbaugh would accept the Vikings position. However, that did not happen.

Regardless of what happened during the interview, Harbaugh is in Ann Arbor to stay. 

“From here on out, I’m working at the pleasure of the University of Michigan,” Harbaugh said. “Because that’s, in my heart, where I want to be.”

After seeing up close and personal what a national championship-caliber team looks like, Michigan will know what it needs to do to get back to the college football promised land.

“Sure, the Super Bowl is the greatest prize in our sport,” said Harbaugh. “But winning a national championship, that’s pretty darn great. Let’s do that.”

Michigan has a favorable schedule in 2022. The Wolverines will play their first four games of the season at home. The team will also host Big Ten foes Penn State and Michigan State. Its Big Ten West opponents include Iowa, who it handled easily in last year’s Big Ten Championship Game, as well as Nebraska and Illinois, neither of which finished with a winning record last season.

The Wolverines’ toughest test will once again come in the last week of November when the team will travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in what could very well be another winner-take-all matchup.

When all is said and done, Harbaugh’s success will more or less be measured by whether or not he can bring a national championship to Ann Arbor.

“We really believe we can win a national championship,” Harbaugh said. “I’m excited about today, about tomorrow, about the next day . . .”