In his head coaching career, current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to exceed a four-season tenure.
Prior jobs at San Diego, Stanford, San Francisco, and now Michigan have all lasted just four or less seasons. Harbaugh is now going into his fourth season at his alma mater with a lot of weight on his and his team’s shoulders. The pressure to win is imminent.
One question that comes to mind for Michigan fans: is this job special to Jim? Is this any different from his previous stops? Does he see Ann Arbor as him and his family’s permanent home?
NFL teams have and will continue to offer head coaching positions to the former Michigan quarterback. The rumors spiral, the Twitter bloggers with “sources” claim it’s a done deal time and time again.
Harbaugh has addressed these rumors in the past. Following the 2016 regular season, the talk of his departure was atop many headlines. At Michigan’s annual football bust, he was blunt in his words.
“I can speak for myself,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not leaving Michigan, I’m not even considering it.”
Harbaugh continued to refer to the rumors as lies that were made up by their enemies.
At that point in time, Michigan had been coming off a 10-2 regular season getting ready to play Florida State in a NY6 bowl game. Since those comments, Michigan has gone 8-6, beating just one team with an above .500 record.
We can talk about how disastrous the 2017-18 football season was for Harbaugh and Michigan. However I believe that by now everyone, especially Michigan fans, have heard about it more than they want to. Time to win.
Which brings us to today, Harbaugh is 28-11, 1-2 in bowl games, 1-5 against chief rivals. Does a specific outcome for the 2018 season decide whether or not Harbaugh leaves?
Michigan has a tendency to run coaches out of town if they fail to win, Harbaugh should get no special treatment. If he loses to two or even all three of his rivals this season, does he survive the criticism and return with a potential 1-8 rivalry record? Or does he finally bite some onto of the NFL job offers?
What if the 2018-19 season is a major success for Michigan in every category? Beating their rivals, winning the Big Ten, and cracking the playoffs? Does Harbaugh dust his hands off, consider it a job well done and take off to his next head coaching stop?
Or has Harbaugh had his taste of the NFL and now prefers coaching at the college level? His situation with 49ers GM Jed York was likely a frustrating one for a head coach that resurrected a dead franchise.
At Michigan, Harbaugh has an opportunity to be worshiped if he is able to bring home a national championship. His salary is about as good as it gets, making nine million annually which makes him one of the highest paid coaches in all of football.
Harbaugh is something of a wildcard, no one really knows what he’ll do following the 2018-19 season. His relationship with the University of Michigan, his players, the community, and the fans for the most part is seemingly good.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has recently said that he wants both Jim Harbaugh and basketball head coach John Beilein to coach in Ann Arbor until they both retire. Despite all of the criticism from the public eye, Manuel still believes that Harbaugh is a lifer.
The ex-49ers head coach turns 55 years old in December, still relatively young in the world of coaching. It’ll be interesting to see if his tenure at Michigan will become his longest one to date.
One last question is if results are still scarce by the end of the 2018-19 season, will NFL teams still be willing to pay an arm and a leg for Harbaugh? The bottom line is that no matter what his intentions beyond this season are, it is in the Michigan head coach’s best interest to win and win something meaningful this season.
Michigan fans would like to believe that this is a special place for Harbaugh, he is in control of his legacy at his alma mater.