Why Jim Harbaugh won’t be leaving Michigan for the NFL anytime soon
On Thursday, FS1’s Colin Cowherd spent a good portion of “The Herd” discussing a fascinating report which hit the internet earlier in the day. According to Bleacher Report, there are multiple NFL teams that are ready to make “mega offers” to current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
While Cowherd discussed the report, he also brought up a broader point: Why do any of these places — be it in college or the pros — believe that they’re just going to just walk in, take a great coach with a great job and convince them to switch gigs?
Here’s Colin (with the full video above):
“Forget great. You’re not going to hire great. They’re Bruno Mars; they’ve always got gigs. Nick [Saban’s] got a gig, [Bill] Belichick, Urban [Meyer], Harbaugh, Andy Reid, Sean Payton, they’re not taking that job.”
Bottom line: Harbaugh is not leaving for the NFL. At least not this year. So NFL GMs, owners and/or front offices folks (who I know read every word I write) can go ahead and move onto the next candidate.
Let's look at this from a 30,000-foot view.
For starters, there’s the most important variable: Money. As Bleacher Report had alluded, these teams are ready to throw “mega offers” at Harbaugh. If that’s the case, that’s going to be a salary that hovers somewhere in the high nine digits per season in the current NFL climate. At least that’s the going rate for good NFL head coaches. According to CoachesHotSeat.com, Payton and Pete Carroll are the two highest-paid coaches in the sport at around $8 million per year. So you’d think that at the very least, an NFL team would have to top that, right?
Just one problem: Harbaugh already makes better money at Michigan! As we told you a few weeks earlier, Harbaugh is technically the highest-paid coach in college football at over $9 million a year. Granted, part of that is due some creative accounting (which includes a couple interest-free loans in his name), but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s making a lot of money. His $5 million base salary isn’t too shabby, either, and we have to assume that Michigan would match any NFL offer he got. So there's not really an incentive to leave a really good job for another good job if the money is already similar. It’s not like he’s in for a big pay raise.
Beyond that, there are some other factors as well.
Like the simple fact that Michigan is winning. A lot. The Wolverines are a brisk 19-3 since Harbaugh took over, and absolutely dominating the Big Ten in a way that only Urban Meyer could claim. So far this season, Michigan is 9-0, with two of their wins (Wisconsin and Michigan State) coming by double-digits. Would Harbaugh really walk away from that to go to the NFL meat-grinder, where equal talent, budgets and salary caps make it impossible to win at that level?
Beyond that: Harbaugh isn’t just winning — Michigan has fully embraced him in a way that allows him to be his own zany self. Remember, it was just a few years ago that San Francisco basically ran him out of town for reasons only known to them. At Michigan, they take his quirks in stride. He seems to have a good relationship with athletic director Warde Manuel (a “Michigan man” himself), and the school spares no expense to keep Harbaugh happy. Beyond just the salary, remember that little, ho-hum 30+ city satellite camp tour this summer? How many places would foot such a bill? But Michigan had no problem with it.
Finally — and most important — he’s just getting things rolling.
And really, that’s the scary part about what’s happening at Michigan. It’s not only that Harbaugh is winning — he’s winning with mostly Brady Hoke’s recruits. Can you imagine what this program will look like once Harbaugh gets a few of his classes in there full-time? How good this program can be?
Now that’s not to say that Harbaugh won’t ever leave Michigan. Times change and so do situations. He might run into an AD he doesn’t like, other unforeseen problems, or in time, he just might get the NFL itch again.
But right now? In 2016? He ain’t going anywhere.
So to quote Harbaugh: Who’s got it better than Michigan fans?
No one. And they’re going to enjoy him for the foreseeable future.