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Jim Harbaugh: Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh burned plenty of bridges when he left for college football. With the high-profile coach seemingly open to an NFL return, are NFL teams interested in bringing Harbaugh back?
Harbaugh left the San Francisco 49ers after the 2014 season, leaving behind an incredible record and a tarnished reputation. With things going south in Ann Arbor, rumors have circulated that he might be interested in returning to the NFL.
NFL news: Teams not interested in Jim Harbaugh’s NFL return
According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, Harbaugh is not highly sought after by NFL teams. Even in a year where there will be several openings, the eccentric coach isn’t generating much interest from the NFL.
In fact, per Pauline, Matt Rhule generated significantly more attention and buzz last year. Owners and general managers were very impressed by the work he did at Baylor, leading to him being coveted by multiple teams. Ultimately, he signed a lucrative contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Harbaugh won’t receive a fraction of that attention if he decides to bolt from his alma mater. Unfortunately for him, much of the sentiment is created by his own doing. Both his resume and personal experiences have hurt his standing around the football world.
Hired with overwhelming fanfare in 2015, Michigan thought it struck gold with its hire. The program made Harbaugh one of the highest-paid coaches in football and the results have been incredibly underwhelming.
On its own, Harbaugh’s 44-19-1 record across four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers is impressive. He helped the team win an NFC championship and they won five playoff games during that four-year stretch. Unfortunately, while the team performed, the coach caused a lot of problems.
After causing friction in the locker room and with the front office, he moved on and didn’t mince words after leaving. He took shots at the organization, applauded himself for putting up with them and the hostility seemed mutual. General managers and owners talk regularly in the NFL and the issues the 49ers had with Jim Harbaugh are known throughout the league.
Jim Harbaugh’s alarming record at Michigan
Harbaugh might be able to put questions about his ego and confrontational approach aside if the Wolverines were a powerhouse. Instead, under his direction, Michigan remains a second-class football program in the Big Ten.
The college football world has enjoyed seeing the Wolverines get demolished in recent years to the Ohio State Buckeyes, including a 62-39 loss in 2018 and a 56-27 defeat in 2019. Harbaugh hasn’t beaten Ohio State once and that includes losses to Ryan Day and Urban Meyer.
It would be one thing if the Wolverines only lost to Ohio State, but that’s not the case. Michigan lost five games in 2017, three games in 2018, four times in 2019 and is 1-2 entering Week 11. On top of that, Harbaugh’s program is 1-4 in bowl games and the last victory came in 2015.
Michigan thought quarterback Shea Patterson would be the answer to their woes and Harbaugh would turn him into a star. Patterson, much like the Wolverines in recent seasons, never lived up to the hype.
Harbaugh’s contract runs through the 2021 season and while there were talks of an extension earlier this year, things have changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a staggering financial blow to the University of Michigan and Harbaugh isn’t proving himself worthy of a lucrative extension.
The fans are already growing tired of the same results every year and it won’t be long before boosters want their money spent elsewhere. If that happens and the NFL doesn’t want him back, Jim Harbaugh might have to settle for a job that is far below his personal standards.