College Football
Jim Harbaugh reportedly discussing extension with Michigan, deal not imminent
College Football

Jim Harbaugh reportedly discussing extension with Michigan, deal not imminent

Published Dec. 7, 2023 2:44 p.m. ET

Jim Harbaugh is reportedly negotiating an extension worth over $11 million per season to stay at Michigan, but the biggest obstacle remaining is to get the head coach to contractually commit that he will not pursue an NFL job this offseason.

Even though Harbaugh helped Michigan to another undefeated season in 2023 and a third straight College Football Playoff berth, questions about his future in the college game have swirled again this fall amid Michigan's sign-stealing scandal. 

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Harbaugh was suspended for Michigan's final three regular-season games by the Big Ten. He and the program initially challenged the suspension in court, but Harbaugh eventually accepted the suspension as the Big Ten closed its investigation into the matter.

The NCAA's investigation into Michigan's alleged illegal sign stealing still looms, however. Its investigation is centered around former Michigan staffer Connor Stalions, who allegedly bought tickets to dozens of Big Ten games since 2021 as part of his operation to steal signs with recording devices illegally. A day after Harbaugh accepted his three-game suspension, linebackers coach Chris Partridge was fired for allegedly trying to destroy evidence related to the scheme.

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It's unclear if Harbaugh had any role in the scheme. However, the NCAA informed Michigan in November that it found evidence that a university booster helped fund Stalions' operation, causing the school to accept that the program could face heavy sanctions that could implicate Harbaugh for letting the operation happen under his watch, ESPN reported. The NCAA's investigation isn't expected to conclude until after the college football season ends, per multiple reports.

The three-game suspension from the Big Ten was Harbaugh's second three-game suspension of the season. Michigan self-imposed a three-game suspension for Harbaugh in relation to the NCAA's investigation over the program's recruiting violations. Harbaugh initially agreed with the NCAA to serve a four-game suspension over the matter, but the NCAA's Committee of Infractions denied the agreement.

Still, Michigan went undefeated for the second straight regular season despite not having its head coach for half of its games. In the second three-game suspension, Michigan picked up key road wins over Penn State and Maryland before defeating fellow undefeated Ohio State in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh rejoined Michigan following its win over Ohio State, leading the Wolverines to a 26-0 win over Iowa in the Big Ten title game. He's expected to remain on the sideline for the rest of the season as Michigan takes on No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Jan. 1 (8 p.m. ET).

FINAL / OT
ALA 20 · MICH 27
NCAA FB
SPREAD
TO WIN
TOTAL
4
Alabama Crimson Tide
ALA
1
Michigan Wolverines
MICH

Harbaugh has gone 84-25 since Michigan hired him in 2015, bringing back one of its most famous football alums to become its head coach. After three 10-win seasons in his first four years at the helm, Harbaugh hit some bumpy roads at Michigan, going 2-4 during the COVID-shortened 2020 season as calls for him to be fired grew.

But Michigan has gone 28-3 over the last three seasons, making Harbaugh a coaching commodity for the NFL in addition to bringing the Wolverines back to national contender status. Harbaugh interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings following the 2021 season, but opted to stay at Michigan. He also met with the Denver Broncos last offseason. 

So far, the Carolina Panthers (which fired head coach Frank Reich in November) and the Chicago Bears (which still have Matt Eberflus as their head coach) have been among the reported suitors for Harbaugh if he seeks to return to the NFL. 

Harbaugh's one head coaching stint in the NFL came with the San Francisco 49ers. He helped San Francisco immediately turn from a bottom dweller to a contender, leading it to three straight NFC title game appearances from 2011-13, including a trip to the Super Bowl in 2012. The two sides parted ways at the end of the 2014 season after missing the playoffs.

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