It’s a big year for Jim Harbaugh, according to Jim Harbaugh’s critics. After three title-less season, a fourth would mean… Harbaugh would have coached four seasons at Michigan without a championship.
Michigan has been all-in on Harbaugh ever since the Wolverines brought him back to Ann Arbor in late December of 2014, not only paying him one of the highest salaries in college football, but then plopping down multi-million dollar premiums on his life insurance policy on top of that — something that could be worth up to $20 million to the Harbaugh estate upon his death. Harbaugh has since gone 28-11 overall (18-8 in the Big Ten) and gotten under the skin of every opponent standing in his way.
His penchant for making enemies and then annoying them with his stream of antics has led some to convince themselves — or at least entertain the conversation — that Michigan may want to move on from him if he fails to lead Michigan to so much as the low-level promised land of Indianapolis on the first Saturday in December as the Big Ten East champion.
And to be clear, whiffing on a Big Ten title and/or a College Football Playoff appearance four seasons in would be a disappointment for Harbaugh, and at some schools it could trigger conversations about hitting the eject button. But not at Michigan.
“I love my coaches across the board, love those two guys (Harbaugh and Beilein) in particular,” Michigan AD Warde Manuel told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m extremely pleased with where we are from a staffing standpoint. Jim and John are two people that I would love to see retire at this institution (when they) retire from coaching.”
Harbaugh, 54, is in Year 4 of his original 7-year contract. Manuel has yet to extend Harbaugh, but he did orchestrate the life insurance policy that brings Harbaugh’s annual income to $7 million a year.
“I don’t want Jim to go anywhere either. He’s got four more years (on his deal) at this point, but Jim also knows how I feel about him,” Manuel said. “We’ve had great conversations and I don’t want him to go anywhere either.”