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The Jim Harbaugh saga continues

Harbaugh reportedly has a contract offer on his proverbial desk at Michigan. So, why hasn't he signed it?

Jim Harbaugh followed his worst season with his best, and he'll reap the reward of betting on himself sooner than later. The question is where Harbaugh will wear his trademark khaki pants and baseball cap next season -- a question that, still, doesn't have an answer.

Dan Graziano reported on ESPN's Get Up Friday that Harbaugh has a new contract on his proverbial desk at Michigan.

“The Las Vegas Raiders and Jim Harbaugh have kind of been connected in rumors and speculation, etc., for the last month or so,” Graziano said. “My understanding on where this stands, Harbaugh has had contract talks with Michigan, that there is an offer on the table that he could take but hasn’t yet, and that he remains intrigued by the idea of returning to the NFL where he was very successful with the 49ers and doing so as the coach of the Raiders."

The news there isn't that Harbaugh has a new contract offer. After underperforming his $9 million contract, Harbaugh greatly outperformed his $4 million salary this past season, leading Michigan past Ohio State for the first time since 2011, to its first Big Ten title since 2004, and to its first College Football Playoff. 

The news, of course, is that Harbaugh hasn't signed it.

“Look, everybody I’ve talked to have said the same thing: ‘It is very hard to predict Jim Harbaugh.’ But there’s real interest both ways, the question is whether it results in him getting the Raiders job or whether they decide it’s not the right time and they look elsewhere," Graziano continued. "But this is the spot to watch for Jim Harbaugh if he’s coming back into the NFL this year.”

Graziano's report comes on the heels of Bruce Feldman reporting for The Athletic that those within the walls of Michigan's facility that Harbaugh is simply waiting on the Raiders to offer him the job.

In a way, Harbaugh leading Michigan to the Playoff could work against him returning to his alma mater. 

In losing to Georgia, a 34-11 final that wasn't as close as even the 23-point margin implied, perhaps Harbaugh got an in-person education in just how close yet very far away Michigan is from truly competing for national titles. While, at the NFL level, Harbaugh's .690 winning percentage is the highest in league history, he quickly took a struggling 49ers franchise to three straight NFC Championships and one Super Bowl. Perhaps Harbaugh thinks it's easier to win a Super Bowl than a CFP title -- his own history says so. And the 2021 Raiders are in better shape than the 2010 49ers he inherited.

Of course, maybe the biggest error in all this is to even head-fake toward an assumption that anyone can know what Harbaugh is thinking.

While college football's winningest program and a 3-time Super Bowl-champion franchise wait for him to make a decision, Harbaugh was doing squats in a high school weight room on Thursday.

To quote our own Scott Roussel, he is who he is.