Report: Jim Harbaugh frustrated over his Michigan contract
There are numerous reasons that have been reported as explanations for why Jim Harbaugh wanted to leave Michigan or the NFL this offseason. Whether it truly was his desire to win a Super Bowl, or he was using the NFL rumors as leverage with the Wolverines, lots of explanations were provided.
Maybe there was a combination of several factors that led Harbaugh to explore the NFL.
The Detroit Free Press’ Michael Cohen published an article on Sunday in which he discussed Harbaugh’s flirtation with the Vikings. He says there was a desire from Harbaugh to win a Super Bowl; the coach’s realization that the older he gets, the less likely it is for him to get hired by an NFL team; and possible frustrations with Michigan that all contributed to the dalliance.
But Cohen notably described Harbaugh’s contract as the “tipping point” pushing the coach towards the NFL.
Harbaugh notoriously had his contract embarrassingly cut in half following a 2-4 season during the pandemic-shortened 2020 year. Harbaugh apparently did not care about the money, but rather the symbolism the pay cut showed: that Michigan lost part of its belief that Harbaugh was an elite coach who was worthy of elite pay.
Harbaugh donated his multi-million dollar bonuses earned last season to the Michigan athletic department, which is proof that money isn’t his primary concern. However, the embarrassment of publicly having his pay slashed reportedly was enough to bother the coach to the point he felt his previous contract should have been restored.
Apparently Michigan’s contract offer to adjust Harbaugh’s pay following the successful season came up short of what the coach wanted. That is when he began exploring the NFL, according to Cohen.
If that is the case, then it seems like Harbaugh used NFL flirtations to help get the contract out of Michigan that he wanted. That could also explain why mid-meeting with the Vikings, something supposedly changed. Did Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel reach out to Harbaugh with an improved contract offer, leading Harbaugh to recommit to the school? Cohen says Harbaugh is expected to sign a contract extension with Michigan soon.
What’s interesting is that Harbaugh apparently had an issue with the administration at Michigan, and so did the school’s former offensive coordinator. Now Michigan has Harbaugh back and needs to regroup for the 2022 season.
Photo: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches warmups before a game against Northern Illinois at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.