Jim Harbaugh is staying at Michigan for the foreseeable future after signing a nice $36 million extension. Or, at least Michigan fans hope Harbaugh is sticking around for the next half-decade to coach one of the best programs in college football.
After flirting with NFL openings and failing to land the Minnesota Vikings head coaching job, Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor and got rewarded him with some nice cash.
However, this extension isn’t too exciting, and it could even be considered a desperate move by Michigan. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum ripped Michigan and Harbaugh for this new deal, even calling it “preposterous.”
Paul Finebaum rips apart Michigan for the Jim Harbaugh contract extension
Finebaum didn’t hold anything back whatsoever.
Clearly, he isn’t excited about Harbaugh’s “extension.” To Finebaum’s point, they just extended his deal one extra season but did give him north of $7 million per year throughout the tenure.
Still, there is a reason to be reserved and underwhelmed with this deal. The relationship between Harbaugh and Michigan is a complicated one.
He brought them to the College Football Playoff in a year nobody thought they would even be close to there. Then, he insisted he wouldn’t chase NFL jobs only to hop on a plane on National Signing Day and head to the Vikings for an interview. Before that, he shut down reports of interest in the Las Vegas Raiders job, insisting he loved coaching at Michigan.
It’s confusing, and as Finebaum mentions, Michigan had no choice but to give him a raise and a new deal in hopes of convincing him to stick around Ann Arbor a bit longer.
Now, Finebaum has expressed issues with Harbaugh many times in the past, but he is spot-on with this assessment. This feels like a desperate attempt by Michigan to keep Harbaugh around — and an endeavor that will likely fail.
Michigan had no choice but to give Harbaugh more money, but will it work out?
Harbaugh seemed thrilled with the deal, and why wouldn’t he be? He gets a massive raise and is making NFL-type money while returning to a loaded Michigan roster, one that has a decent shot of returning to the top of the Big Ten in 2022.
But can we really take Harbaugh’s comments with validity? Remember, this is the same guy who appeared to be locked into the Vikings’ job, so much so that he tanked his interview because he thought it was in the bag.
Harbaugh is excited for now, but will that excitement, passion, and love for the program last until 2026?
Probably not. But, Michigan had no choice. After thinking about life without Harbaugh, they got him to return thanks to Kevin O’Connell’s rock-solid interview with the Vikings. Michigan would have been a late addition to the college football coaching carousel if it weren’t for that.
The $7 million per year is a nice bonus for Harbaugh, but don’t think that this ensures he will stick around for the entirety of the deal.
Michigan beware: He won’t be there by 2026
Finebaum hit the nail on the head with his comments. This “marriage” isn’t an attractive one. The relationship between Harbaugh and Michigan must have soured after he flip-flopped several times over the past couple of months.
How do they respond? Throw a massive bag of money at him. For starters, that helps Michigan on the recruiting trail. Although, with the volatility of the transfer portal in today’s age, that doesn’t mean too much.
This extension feels like a shaky bridge, one that Michigan will walk on for as long as they can. The bridge will collapse at some point down the road, and Michigan will begin reeling and scrambling to find another head coach.
Harbaugh’s return to the NFL seems imminent — look at his measly $3 million buyout in his first year of the deal. It even decreases after that.
NFL owners won’t be scared to pay $3 million to snatch Harbaugh from Michigan, and the Wolverines head coach won’t be able to shake off his feelings of wanting a return to the Super Bowl.
This extension does nothing but delays the inevitable — and Michigan fans need to realize that. Harbaugh’s clock is ticking in Ann Arbor, but for now, at least in 2022, he will be coaching the Wolverines.