Anyone who follows the NFL and college football is well-accustomed to a very familiar coaching rumor this time of year. Ever since he took the helm at Michigan in 2015, Jim Harbaugh has been a mainstay in the pro football coaching rumor mill every December and January. Regardless of whether the rumors have legit merit, such as last year when Harbaugh ultimately spurned the Minnesota Vikings to stay in Ann Arbor (for a likely huge pay raise).
Given Harbaugh’s past NFL success with the San Francisco 49ers — including a 2012 NFC title — fans are often desperate to connect the dots and put Harbaugh in some new professional digs. Knowing that this happens on a now annual basis while riding the high of two straight Big Ten titles and berths in the College Football Playoff, Harbaugh decided to nip this rumor in the bud.
How? With a statement oozing trademark Harbaugh that also doesn’t completely rule out a jump to the big leagues … just in the future:
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) January 5, 2023
On the one hand, good for Harbaugh that he’s getting out in front of all the usual rampant speculation to seemingly ease the minds of those who hang on his every word in Ann Arbor. On the other hand, he didn’t exactly issue a “strong” statement ruling out a future in the NFL, per se. To note that “no one knows what the future holds” before actually stating he “expects” (so committal!) to coach with Michigan in 2023 says a lot about Harbaugh. In that, he’s probably trying to keep his options open. There’s also the idea Harbaugh wants to continue using prospective NFL teams as leverage every time he wants a raise or massive extension from Michigan. Either or.
As long as he stays at Michigan, the Wolverines will likely continue to be a national powerhouse in the National Championship picture every year. Getting that elusive title is a feather Harbaugh undoubtedly wants to add to his cap, too.
But, of course, “no one knows what the future holds.”