“Over the past few weeks, (Athletic Director) Warde (Manuel) and I had discussions that have been honest, open, insightful and constructive in moving our football program forward,” Harbaugh said in a U of M release. “Discussions that I look forward to continuing over the months and years ahead. We have a plan.”
The contract situation dragged into January and frustrated many fans, but ultimately, Harbaugh will return to Ann Arbor for at least a seventh season.
“I continue to believe that Jim is the right man to lead our program in pursuit of Big Ten and CFP championships,” Manuel said. “Our program didn’t achieve at a level that anyone expected this year, but I know those setbacks will drive the coaches, players and staff moving forward. Jim is a tireless worker and competitor. Following the completion of the season we talked for many hours on what it will take for Jim to lead and get us back on the right trajectory.
“Jim loves the University of Michigan and this football program. He has been committed to this university, athletic department and football program since his days as a player and returning in 2015 as the head coach. He wants to do everything possible to build a championship football team while graduating our student-athletes. We all need to do our part to continue to help in that pursuit as it takes everyone pulling the same direction to have a championship level program.”
After compiling a solid 47-18 record over his first five seasons with the program, Harbaugh had a rocky 2020. Michigan went just 2-4, including losses to Michigan State and then-winless Penn State at home.
It was the first time in program history the Wolverines went without a win at Michigan Stadium.
“There is work to be done and challenges to be addressed,” Harbaugh said. “These challenges are being addressed as we continue to strive for excellence in the classroom and championships on the field, a message that I hope is noted in the language of our agreed-upon contract.”
“Thanks to our University of Michigan players and their families who have placed their trust in our program and our goals. All our energy and focus is directed toward laying an outstanding foundation for the 2021 football season.”
Harbaugh managed to bring in a strong recruiting class despite the on-field struggles and coaching speculation. Five-star quarterback J.J. McCarthy and elite weapons, such as running back Donovan Edwards and wide receiver Xavier Worthy, will be critical for Michigan to bounce back in the coming years.
Defensively, Michigan was awful in 2020, and defensive coordinator Don Brown paid the price. He was fired last month and has since joined former Michigan offensive coordinator and new Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch’s staff.
With an 0-5 record against Ohio State and other unsightly numbers against tough competition, Harbaugh’s new contract is expected to be more incentive-laden. The Wolverines haven’t been to the Big Ten Championship Game or finished with fewer than three losses during the Harbaugh era.