The 2021 college football coaching carousel is not over yet.
According to a report on Tuesday Bruce Feldman from The AthleticMichigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who had just led the Wolverines to their top spot in the college football playoffs and their first win on “The Game” since 2011, “might be tempted to leave the Wolverines for a comeback. to the NFL. “
Feldman, citing NFL and Michigan sources, speculated that the timing may be perfect for Harbaugh to return to the NFL, where he coached the 49ers for four years as a head coach between college stops at Stanford and Michigan.
“I think it’s real,” a source told Feldman regarding Harbaugh’s interest in the NFL.
Feldman in his report speculated that Harbaugh likely would not leave his alma mater, where he played from 1982 to 1986, without first beating Ohio State. The Wolverines finally scored Harbaugh’s first win in that series, and Michigan’s first win since 2011, with a 42-27 destruction of the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor. A week later, Michigan beat Iowa 42-3 for the team’s first overall Big Ten championship since 2003.
Michigan used those victories to rank second in the playoffs, but failed to beat third-ranked Georgia, falling 38-11 to fall to 12-2 on the season. It was Harbaugh’s fourth season with at least 10 wins. He has averaged 9.8 wins per season outside of the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign, when Michigan was 2-4.
All of this means that Harbaugh’s shares have never risen higher since his return to Michigan. That, coupled with his proven success at the NFL level – he was 44-19-1 in four seasons and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in his second season – could make him an intriguing target for several teams in need of a coach. . In fact, Feldman reported that various people over the years indicated that he would eventually return to the NFL.
And there is no shortage of teams that can use their services.
Feldman considered the Raiders a prime destination for Harbaugh, considering he started there as a quarterback coach in 2002-03 under Bill Callahan. Another potential landing spot is Chicago, which selected Harbaugh with the 26th pick in the 1987 NFL Draft and for whom he played from 1987 to 1993.
Both organizations also make sense to the extent that their future quarterback (Derek Carr with the Raiders, Justin Fields with the Bears) are already behind.
Another team in search of a coach are the Jaguars, who fired Urban Meyer in a disastrous experiment that could not last a year in Jacksonville. Other teams that may decide to leave their coaches are the Browns (Kevin Stefanski), Giants (Joe Judge) and, potentially, the Seahawks (Pete Carroll).
Harbaugh’s contract with Michigan is also worth considering amid rumors of a return to the NFL. Harbaugh suffered a sizable pay cut in 2021 after a disastrous 2-4 season. His base salary was lowered from $ 8 million in 2020 to $ 4 million in 2021, and he was awarded $ 1 million in bonuses for winning the Big Ten championship and $ 500,000 in bonuses for winning the Big Ten East division and reaching the playoffs. Harbaugh eventually used those bonuses to pay staff within Michigan’s athletic department.
Another notable aspect of his contract negotiation: His purchase dropped to $ 2 million in 2021, and it will drop by $ 500,000 each year through 2025. That would be a steal for any NFL team that wanted to bring Harbaugh on. To that end, reporter Scott Bell reported that Michigan is willing to pay Harbaugh to keep him in Ann Arbor:
If he’s in charge of a team in a competitive field, any good leader will use whatever influence he can get and use it to strengthen his team. Jim Harbaugh should get a raise, but I’m sure he’s keeping an eye on his staff / program and wants guarantees in other areas as well.
– Scott Bell (@ sbell021) January 4, 2022
It’s unclear whether rumors of a return to the NFL carry weight. But it’s also worth remembering that Harbaugh, following his team’s loss to Georgia in the Orange Bowl semifinal, said it feels like a “start” to the show. However, it remains to be seen whether Harbaugh will be there to pull it off.