Michigan Football has its sights set on a National Championship
By: Riley Day
Jan. 29, 2023
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Last week, Michigan Wolverines Head Coach Jim Harbaugh quelled NFL rumors for the second consecutive year. On Jan. 23, University President Santa Ono tweeted that he had a lengthy phone conversation with Harbaugh and he informed him he would be returning in 2023 for a ninth season with the Wolverines.
This announcement came on the heels of conversations Harbaugh had with two NFL teams about their head coaching vacancies: the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. According to ESPN, the Panthers owner David Tepper and Harbaugh had an informal discussion about the team’s head coaching vacancy, but it was not characterized as an official interview. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported a virtual interview with the Broncos lasted over two hours and that Harbaugh had emerged as a top candidate for the job, causing Michigan fans plenty of stress over the past few weeks.
Frustration has been building in the Michigan football camp lately over the way the NCAA has handled accusations of multiple rules violations. CBS Sports reported Level 2 violations, including holding practices with too many coaches on the field and illegally contacting recruits during the “extended COVID-19 dead period.”
Harbaugh's growing discontent with Athletic Director Warde Manuel has also been an ongoing issue. Admittedly, it is a bit unorthodox that President Ono was the one announcing Harbaugh’s return rather than Manuel. Notable journalist and author John U. Bacon, a trusted source in the Michigan community, tweeted that Manuel and Harbaugh have not spoken directly since last May.
Some of the animosity between the two stems from disagreements over contract negotiations. On3.com reports that Harbaugh is currently in negotiations with the university to become the highest paid coach in the Big Ten. Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, and Penn State’s James Franklin earn $9.5, $8.8, and $8.5 million, respectively— all more than Harbaugh’s $8.1 million yearly salary. Considering he has led the team to back-to-back Big Ten Championships and appearances in the College Football Playoff, a renegotiation appears to be warranted. President Ono’s active involvement in the situation to ensure Harbaugh stays in Ann Arbor for the foreseeable future set many minds at ease, but the football team’s relationship with the athletic director will continue to be called into question.
“One More Year” Presented by Valiant
Valiant Management Group, a sports marketing agency founded by former Michigan football player Jared Wangler, has recently become vital to the success of the Michigan football team. Valiant is important because it is one of the few NIL collectives supported by the athletic department, meaning they gain exclusive access to university trademarks and rights that others do not. This has allowed them to “be at the forefront of merchandising and creative marketing,” helping Michigan athletes to fully capitalize on their name, image, and likeness while they are still in college.
Earlier this month, Valiant officially launched the “One More Year Fund,” which is aimed at raising enough money to make it lucrative for elite athletes to remain in Ann Arbor rather than leave school early to pursue an NFL career. The fund is off to a quick start, as stars Blake Corum, Cornelius Johnson, Trevor Keegan, and Zak Zinter all announced they would put off the NFL another year and chase a National Championship in 2023.
Three donors have already made donations at the $5,000 level, indicating that significant financial contributions towards our athletes are coming in the very near future.