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Michigan Wolverines could reportedly keep Jim Harbaugh with contract extension

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh will interview with NFL teams for a second consecutive offseason, seeking to complete unfinished business at the highest level. With his future hanging in the balance, Michigan is in jeopardy of losing one of its best coaches ever.

Harbaugh took over at his alma mater in 2015, taking over after parting ways with the San Francisco 49ers. Replacing Brady Hoke, Harbaugh’s Wolverines delivered consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time since 2002-’03 under Lloyd Carr.

Related: NFL team weary of Jim Harbaugh after ‘odd’ behavior in 2022 interview

While Michigan improved under Harbaugh, it lost four consecutive bowl games from 2016-2019 then went 2-4 during the 2020 season. Without a win over the Ohio State Buckeyes, Harbaugh agreed to take a pay cut before returning in 2021.

The Wolverines immediately turned things around. Harbaugh earned back some of his money through bonuses after the Wolverines beat Ohio State, finishing 12-2 with an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

  • Jim Harbaugh contract: $7.334 million AAV

Despite expressing a desire to remain at Michigan, Harbaugh interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings and emerged as a finalist to become their head coach. Ultimately, he turned the interest from the NFL into a five-year contract extension that significantly raised his salary.

The Wolverines took another step forward in 2022, crushing Ohio State on the road and finishing the season with a 13-1 record. After consecutive CFP Semifinals appearances, Harbaugh again started attracting interest from NFL teams with reports he will leave if offered a job.

  • Jim Harbaugh coaching record (Michigan Wolverines): 74-25, 1-6 in bowl games

Before interviewing with the Denver Broncos this week and after speaking with the Carolina Panthers, Harbaugh publicly suggested he will remain at Michigan. With pending NCAA sanctions against the program, though, it appears the Wolverines need to convince their coach to stay.

Will Jim Harbaugh be the Michigan Wolverines coach in 2023?

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Michigan will have an opportunity to keep Harbaugh if it offers him a contract extension that makes him one of the highest-paid college football coaches in 2023.

Harbaugh’s $7.05 million base salary ranks 12th among his peers in college football. However, he earned more than $2 million in incentives by winning the Big Ten Championship game, earning Big Ten Coach of the Year honors and appearing in the CFP Semifinal.

If the Wolverines want to keep Harbaugh around, it will likely require another contract extension worth at least a $9 million per year base salary.

Michigan would be repeating history, following the same path it did in 2022. After Harbaugh signed the contract extension then said he wouldn’t pursue an NFL job again. Even if he signs another deal with the Wolverines this spring, there is a strong likelihood he explores opportunities in the NFL in 2024.

Harbaugh currently ranks fourth among Michigan’s all-time leaders in wins, trailing Bo Schembechler (194), Fielding Yost (165) and Carr (122). Despite his poor track record in bowl games, the Wolverines would likely keep Harbaugh around for years to come if he wants it. However, it’s clear that he will eventually leave for the NFL.