Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he will return to the Wolverines next season, putting an end to a Sunday morning report that he was being vetted by NFL teams. The coach of the back-to-back Big Ten champions and College Football Playoff participants told reporters Sunday night he would be "back enthusiastically coaching the Wolverines in 2023."
NFL.com reported Sunday morning that multiple NFL teams were working behind the scenes to see if Harbaugh was a fit for the pro game. This comes one year after Harbaugh and the NFL flirted with each other following Harbaugh's first conference title in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Minnesota Vikings were the primary team looking at Harbaugh in its search to replace former coach Mike Zimmer in the past.
Harbaugh has led the Wolverines to two straight Big Ten championships, a 74-24 record during his eight years with his alma mater and has his team on the cusp of a second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance. It's not a surprise that there could be other teams courting him sooner rather than later and it appears some NFL teams may have already started looking at Harbaugh as a potential candidate to fill their coaching vacancies.
Harbaugh's success in the NFL certainly would have made him attractive despite his absence. He was 44-19-1 with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14, made three playoff appearances and lost Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens after the 2012 season. That success came after he built Stanford into a then-Pac-10 power. The Cardinal went 29-21 from 2007-10 orchestrated one of the biggest upsets in college football history when he topped No. 2 USC in 2007, finished the 2010 season with a 12-1 record, won the Orange Bowl and finished ranked No. 4 in the final AP Top 25.
Harbaugh agreed to a five year, $36.7 million extension with the Wolverines last February after the NFL hiring process concluded. That contract went from $7.05 million in 2022 and goes up steadily to $7.63 million in 2026.
It's understandable why NFL teams would be attracted to Harbaugh. He re-built multiple programs in the college game, sustained success at both levels and has the ability to identify and develop quarterbacks like JJ McCarthy with the Wolverines and Colin Kaepernick at the pro level.