Michigan is actively negotiating a contract extension for football coach Jim Harbaugh, aiming for an annual value of $11 million over the next five years, as disclosed by a source familiar with the discussions. The primary obstacle is obtaining a written commitment from Harbaugh, assuring that he will not pursue an NFL coaching position during this cycle.
If finalized, this figure would elevate Harbaugh to the second-highest-paid coach in college football, surpassing Ohio State’s Ryan Day but trailing Alabama’s Nick Saban and his $11.4 million annual salary.
Despite Harbaugh’s recent success, securing a third consecutive Big Ten championship and a College Football Playoff berth, his intermittent interest in NFL opportunities has fueled ongoing speculation. While Harbaugh’s desire for another shot at a Super Bowl is well known, a commitment to Michigan has become a key focus for the school. Harbaugh previously assured Michigan’s athletic director that staying with the Wolverines would not be a recurring issue.
Harbaugh, associated with two NFL franchises with current head coaching vacancies— the Raiders and the Panthers—adds further complexity. Additionally, potential openings with the Bears and Chargers, teams he played for, could emerge by the season’s end. The coach’s ties to San Diego, where he initiated his head coaching career with USD, and the allure of working with quarterback Justin Herbert make him a sought-after candidate.
The negotiations occur against the backdrop of a signal-stealing scandal affecting the Wolverines’ season. An extension offer was initially contemplated in October, but the sign-stealing investigation delayed negotiations. Two ongoing NCAA investigations into recruiting violations during the COVID-19 dead period in 2020 and the sign-stealing controversy add a layer of complexity. The contract is expected to include standard language addressing potential NCAA sanctions.
If the deal is finalized, it will conclude a three-year saga regarding Harbaugh’s salary. After the 2020 season, he agreed to a pay cut in a four-year deal. Post the 2021 season, his salary was increased to over $7 million per year, extending his contract through 2026. Harbaugh and his representatives were not immediately available for comment. The Wolverines are set to face Alabama in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, with a potential shot at the national title game on the line.