Jim Harbaugh says he will return to Michigan in 2023 despite apparent NFL interest

It looks like Jim Harbaugh will be back at Michigan next season.

For the second consecutive offseason, the Wolverines’ head coach interviewed with an NFL franchise. Last year, it was an in-person interview with the Minnesota Vikings that never materialized into a job offer. This year, Harbaugh had a virtual interview with the Denver Broncos and is rumored to have received interest from several other pro franchises.

After a few weeks of uneasiness relative to Harbaugh’s status in Ann Arbor, Michigan released statements from Harbaugh and university president Santa J. Ono on Monday announcing that Harbaugh will be back leading the program next fall.

“I just got off the phone with Coach Harbaugh and Jim shared with me the great news that he is going to remain as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. That is fantastic news that I have communicated to our athletic director Warde Manuel,” Ono said.

Added Harbaugh: “I love the relationships that I have at Michigan — coaches, staff, families, administration, president Santa Ono and especially the players and their families. My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say, ‘Don’t try to out-happy happy.’ Go Blue!”

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches from the sidelines during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches from the sidelines during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Harbaugh has led Michigan to back-to-back Big Ten titles

Harbaugh, 59, has been the head coach at his alma mater since 2015 and has a 74-25 record during that span. He has led the program to back-to-back Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff appearances over the past two seasons. Michigan was unable to defeat rival Ohio State in Harbaugh’s first six seasons on the job, but the Wolverines have knocked off the rival Buckeyes in two straight meetings.

Those wins gave the Wolverines the Big Ten East title. Last year, UM beat Iowa to capture its first outright Big Ten title since 2003. This season, Michigan beat Purdue to repeat as conference champions.

In 2021, Michigan fell to eventual national champion Georgia in the CFP semifinals. This past season, Michigan was upset by TCU in the semifinals.

Following that loss to the Horned Frogs, multiple reports surfaced yet again indicating that Harbaugh — who had a 44-19 record as the coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014 — would have interest in returning to the NFL. Harbaugh’s interview with the Vikings in Minneapolis on national signing day last year made that clear. But after the Vikings opted to hire Kevin O’Connell instead, Harbaugh insisted that his pursuit of an NFL job was just a one-time thing.

That turned out not to be the case as Harbaugh was one of numerous candidates to interview with the Broncos. Harbaugh was also connected to the vacant Indianapolis Colts job. Harbaugh played quarterback for the Colts from 1994-97 and reportedly had some interest in returning.

After all of that, Harbaugh is staying at Michigan. And that’s despite a looming NCAA investigation.

Sources told Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel that Michigan received a draft of a notice of allegations earlier this month. The case mainly contains Level II violations, but Harbaugh could face a suspension as he’s been accused of a Level I violation for allegedly not being forthright with investigators.

Michigan among 2023 national title favorites

Nonetheless, Harbaugh has an excellent team returning next fall.

A bevy of his team’s best players have opted to return next season rather than turn pro. That includes running back Blake Corum, receiver Cornelius Johnson, offensive linemen Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter and defensive lineman Kris Jenkins. The Wolverines also return quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

Michigan is going to be one of the national championship favorites entering the 2023 season. The Wolverines (+1000) currently have the fourth-best national championship odds at BetMGM, behind Georgia (+300), Ohio State (+600) and Alabama (+600).

And with that, Michigan administrators, players and fans won’t have to worry about Harbaugh returning to the NFL — at least until next offseason.