Amid NFL rumors, Jim Harbaugh demands more from Michigan
By Ethan Goldstein
Jan. 28, 2022
Photo Credit: Associated Press
After each season during his Michigan tenure, there always seem to be rumors about Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s interest in returning to the NFL. Despite leading the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff as part of his most successful season yet, this year's rumors are no different.
There are two main factors driving Harbaugh’s current interest in leaving for the NFL right now: Harbaugh would like a restructured contract and he also wants more resources from the University to help him as he navigates the new NIL era of college football.
Following the struggles that Harbaugh endured in the 2020 season, the University decided to restructure his contract such that his base salary of $8 million from 2020 was cut in half to approximately $4 million. The contract, however, included numerous performance-based bonuses, essentially making it so that Harbaugh had to prove he was worth the extra money. He ended up earning over $2 million in bonuses for the 2021 season by winning the Big Ten East and the Big Ten Championship, as well as making it to the Playoff and winning AP Coach of the Year.
As a result of this successful season, Harbaugh has stated his desire for an improved contract that contains more guaranteed money. But if he doesn’t get it, he may take the pay raise he can get in the NFL where The Sports Rush reports an average coaching salary of $6.692 million.
The other important topic of negotiation between Harbaugh and the University centers around providing Harbaugh and his staff with the resources necessary to remain competitive with other universities that prioritize using NIL to attract top talent. According to John U. Bacon, a journalist closely monitoring the Harbaugh situation, Michigan currently has no NIL program implemented to help athletes use their platform to profit, whereas schools like Texas A&M (who just pulled in the nation’s top recruiting class) had boosters spend upwards of $30 million in NIL deals for student-athletes.
As more time passes, the rumors will continue to swirl around Harbaugh’s next move. Reported interest from NFL teams such as the Las Vegas Raiders and New York Giants gives Harbaugh leverage in his negotiations with Michigan. Time will tell if Michigan will reward Harbaugh and acknowledge the fact that recruits are more likely to follow the money these days. But if it doesn't, there may be a new face leading the Michigan Wolverines football team next season.