Michigan Football has had quite a successful run over the last two seasons. The Wolverines have gone 25-3, beat Ohio State twice, won two Big Ten championships, and made two College Football Playoff appearances in the last two seasons. Despite losing in the CFP semifinals in both years, the Wolverines have been one of the most successful programs in college football over this time. As the architect of this success, head coach Jim Harbaugh deserves a ton of credit for what he has done.
Many Wolverines fans called for Harbaugh’s job after an awful 2020 season and repeated failure to get over the hump, but he has proven the naysayers wrong over the last two years. Harbaugh has his flaws like any other coach, but he is undoubtedly one of the best in the sport.
That said, questions about Harbaugh’s future with the program still linger. He has repeatedly flirted with a return to the NFL on a near-yearly basis, and those rumors were at their peak this offseason. Harbaugh repeatedly interviewed with multiple teams for a potential head coach position, including the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.
Harbaugh leaving for the NFL would be an absolute disaster for the Wolverines, and they need to do everything in their power to keep him. Michigan did sign him to a contract extension in 2021, but that clearly wasn’t enough to stop the rumors. Although, a new contract may do just the trick.
With that said, here is why a new Jim Harbaugh contract must be a priority for Michigan.
3. Harbaugh is a recruiting mastermind
Jim Harbaugh isn’t just a good coach in-game, but a great recruiter as well. Being a former NFL coach and a huge name has its draws, and Harbaugh shows that with his recruiting classes. Yes, the allure of playing for Michigan also helps, but there’s no denying that Harbaugh has his own draw.
Since Harbaugh took over in 2015, Michigan has routinely pulled in classes that rank in the top 20. The only exceptions were in 2015, which is understandable since every coach struggles to recruit immediately after their hire, and in 2018, where the Wolverines still ranked 22nd. Four of Harbaugh’s recruiting classes finished in the top 10, and he has signed eight five-stars in his tenure.
There’s almost no coach Michigan could hire that would be a better recruiter than Jim Harbaugh. Players want to play for him because they know he can develop them right, and there are few other coaches that can say that.
2. Harbaugh has led Michigan to its most successful stretch in a long time
Some Michigan fans criticize Harbaugh for not winning a national championship in his tenure. However, it’s important to step back and put what he has done into perspective. Compared to Michigan’s other coaches over the last 15 years, Harbaugh is the best by a country mile.
Harbaugh has coached Michigan for eight years now, and has a .747 win percentage (.750 in conference), and has two conference championships. Before him was Brady Hoke, who had a .608 win percentage (.568 in conference) and no conference championships in four seasons. Before Hoke was Rich Rodriguez, who had a dreadful .405 win percentage (.250 in conference) in three seasons. The last Michigan coach to be better than Harbaugh was Lloyd Carr, who amassed a .753 win percentage (.779 in conference), five Big Ten titles, and one national title in 12 seasons (1995-2007)
There is a very small chance that the Wolverines could hire a better coach than Harbaugh, but there’s a drastically larger chance they could hire one much worse. Keeping Harbaugh is by far the best course of action for Michigan.
1. Michigan needs to shutdown future Harbaugh to NFL rumors
Let’s be real, hearing the Jim Harbaugh rumors every single offseason is extremely tiring. They come up nearly every year, only to lead to him staying in Ann Arbor every time. It’s like a bad movie cliffhanger, all buildup for no payoff.
If hearing those rumors is exhausting for fans, imagine how tiring it must be for the Michigan brass. They constantly have to worry about their head football coach leaving and have to think about conducting another coaching search. If they could shut down all of these rumors for good, they would absolutely do it in a heartbeat.
Now, a new contract wouldn’t permanently shut down the NFL rumors, but it would definitely quiet them for the foreseeable future. Not only that, but it would ensure that Michigan would remain a college football contender for years to come. For the sake of the Wolverines and their fans, Michigan must lock Jim Harbaugh down for the long haul.