Jim Harbaugh reveals how close he was to leaving Michigan
Jim Harbaugh gave legitimate consideration to returning to the NFL this offseason, but he now insists he has never been more committed to Michigan. Had the Minnesota Vikings shown more enthusiasm, the outcome would have been different.
Harbaugh spoke with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press about his decision to remain at Michigan. He said he felt the itch to coach in the NFL again because he got so close to winning a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. He was admittedly excited about the Minnesota Vikings job when they reached out. If the Vikings really wanted him, Harbaugh says he would be preparing for the NFL Draft right now.
“For better or for worse, it was something I wanted to explore. I went in thinking, ‘I’m gonna have 100 percent conviction on this, and if they (Minnesota) have 100 percent conviction on this, then it’s something I’m gonna do,'” Harbaugh admitted.
But the enthusiasm was not shared. Harbaugh called the Vikings a “first-class operation” with “first-class people,” but he didn’t feel they were as excited about him as he was about them. That is consistent with a report this week that claimed Minnesota did not view Harbaugh as a “slam dunk” for their head coach position. Albom speculated that Harbaugh may have expected his Vikings interview to be more of a “coronation” given his previous success in the NFL.
Harbaugh acknowledged that a Super Bowl championship is football’s greatest prize. He insists, however, that he only wants to chase college football’s biggest prize from here on out.
“There was a pull to the NFL because I got that close to the Super Bowl, but this was the time (to try and return). And this is the last time,” Harbaugh insisted. “Now let’s go chase college football’s greatest prize.”
The message from Harbaugh is a bit strange. If the only thing that stopped him from returning to the NFL was the Vikings’ lack of enthusiasm, how can he be so sure he won’t be interested in any future NFL head coaching jobs? Will he still feel that way in a year or two if an NFL team begs him and offers him personnel control?
There were plenty of indications that Harbaugh was fully prepared to leave Michigan. Wolverines fans will likely never feel that he is guaranteed to stay, and you can understand why.
Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports