Jim Harbaugh reportedly staying with Michigan football after weeks of NFL speculation

Harbaugh is 61-24 in seven seasons with Wolverines

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with his team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3. (AP Photo/AJ Mast) (Aj Mast, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Jim Harbaugh is reportedly staying with the Michigan football program after weeks of speculation that he might leave to coach in the National Football League.

On Tuesday (Feb. 1) reports surfaced that Harbaugh would likely be named the next head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Earlier in January, he had been linked to the Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants, through various reports.

But University of Michigan alumnus and NFL insider Adam Schefter reported just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday that Harbaugh has informed the Wolverines he will return.

The announcement comes just over a month after the Wolverines lost to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Harbaugh led Michigan to a 12-2 record, a Big Ten championship and a win over Ohio State in 2021.

Harbaugh was named Michigan’s head football coach in December 2014 after the program went through a difficult seven-year lull under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. He has revitalized his alma mater, compiling a 61-24 across seven seasons.

READ: Looking ahead to Michigan football’s schedule, starters, expectations in 2022

Harbaugh has won double digit games four times as Michigan’s head coach, and other than the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he’s never posted a record worse than 8-5.

NFL rumors swirled around Harbaugh for his first five years in Ann Arbor, but at this time last year, some questioned whether he was the right person for the job, mainly due to struggles against Ohio State. Harbaugh accepted a salary cut, bet on himself and came through emphatically, coaching Michigan to its best season since 1997.

If Harbaugh would have left, a coaching search in February would have been untimely for Michigan, not only because the program has finally started to move in the right direction, but also because the coaching carousel has been turning for months. Several high-profile jobs, such as Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Florida, have already filled their head coaching positions with some of the nation’s top candidates.

Michigan likely would have seen several players enter the transfer portal, and shakeups in the coaching staff would have been a certainty.

The Wolverines signed another top-10 recruiting class last month and have enough talent to compete near the top of the Big Ten again in 2022. If Harbaugh is indeed returning as head coach, Michigan is among the favorites in the conference.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.