Jim Harbaugh Ultimately Chose Los Angeles Chargers Over Return To Michigan For Three Main Reasons

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Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh will take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2024 after serving nine years in the same role at the University of Michigan. Although the move felt inevitable, especially coming off of a national championship, the Wolverines did everything they could to keep him in Ann Arbor.

Athletic director Warde Manuel and university president Santa Ono both said that they had discussed a new contract with Harbaugh. It would have made him the highest-paid coach in college football and included escalator clauses to keep it that way.

There were two stipulations that led Jim Harbaugh to leave.

First and foremost, he and his camp wanted language in his contract at Michigan that would guarantee job security if the NCAA chooses to hammer the program as result of multiple investigations. According to multiple reports, the university was unwilling to include such impunity until it was too late.

Secondly, according to Adam Schefter, there was one thing that the Wolverines could not offer.

Harbaugh won a national championship. He wants to win a Super Bowl.

Here’s the deal. Michigan had an offer on the table to make him the highest-paid coach in college football. And Michigan, though, could not offer him the chance to win a Super Bowl. And really, that’s ultimately it. He would have loved to have stayed at Michigan. Michigan would love to have had him. But the fact of the matter is the Chargers give him the ability to compete for a Super Bowl, and I think that Jim Harbaugh clearly was interested in L.A.

— Adam Schefter on X, formerly known as Twitter

There were other factors to the equation as well. Michigan is losing the vast majority of its starting 22 from its run to a national title. The roster is going to seen massive turnover. That’s not ideal.

On the flip side, Jim Harbaugh is going to inherit a talented roster in Los Angeles. Although the Chargers are facing some cap challenges, they have a strong offense led by Justin Herbert.

The former Oregon quarterback is obviously a big piece to the puzzle. Harbaugh loves him.

It will be interesting to see if this hire works out as well as everybody expects. He has time to figure it out.

Schefter reported that Harbaugh is getting a five-year deal. We don’t know the exact numbers just yet, but NFL insider Mike Garafolo said that Los Angeles made an “extremely strong offer, financially.”

Michigan ultimately couldn’t match the allure of an equivalent offer to try and win a Super Bowl with Herbert.