Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh to return for 2023 season; contract extension coming
Michigan football has its coach for the 2023 season and beyond: Jim Harbaugh.
University of Michigan President Santa Ono sent out a message on Monday afternoon that Harbaugh had personally told him he will come back to Ann Arbor next year, officially putting to bed any worries about his desires to return to the NFL for this hiring cycle.
Sources close to the situation have told the Free Press that a contract extension is in the works for Harbaugh that would include a pay raise and a bigger buyout from his contract.
The sources were granted anonymity because they are not at liberty to speak publicly on the ongoing negotiations.
Harbaugh has signed a new deal with U-M each of the last two years. The first in 2021 cut his $8 million per year salary in half. Then after the first of two Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff seasons, Harbaugh's new deal was for about $8.34 million a year and a $3 million buyout that decreases by $750,000 each Jan. 11 through the duration of the deal, current set to expire after the 2026 season.
"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," Ono's post read. "That is fantastic news that I have communicated to our Athletic Director Warde Manuel. #GoBlue."
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. #GoBlue! pic.twitter.com/3LJzsv4zN9
— Santa Ono (@SantaJOno) January 16, 2023
Harbaugh confirmed the news moments later when he released a statement through the Michigan football twitter account with a caption that read "Happy Mission."
"I love the relationships that I have at Michigan − coaches, staff, families, administration, President Santa Ono and especially the players and their families," his statement said. "My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say, 'Don't try to out-happy, happy.' Go Blue!"
Happy Mission#GoBlue https://t.co/EQ1PksGYBX pic.twitter.com/KNNuYASJWz
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) January 16, 2023
A message to Michigan spokesmen asking if Harbaugh returning equates to an imminent rise and contract extension, or simply an agreement from Harbaugh to forego his NFL fantasies and give it another run in Ann Arbor, was not immediately returned.
Harbaugh reportedly had discussions with the Carolina Panthers and had a virtual interview with the Denver Broncos about their head coaching positions. At one point was considered a 'frontrunner' for the Broncos opening.
Harbaugh, 59, was last in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14) when he went 44-19-1 with appearances in three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance.
Instead, Harbaugh, who is 74-25 through eight seasons in Ann Arbor, will again coach at the corner of Stadium and Main where he has a bevy of weapons, a coaching staff in place and as much momentum as any team in the country not named Georgia
Michigan, 25-3 with a 17-1 conference record over the past two seasons, is the two-time defending Big Ten Champion, has won consecutive games over Ohio State for the first time since 1999-2000 and appeared in the College Football Playoff in each of the past two seasons, finishing No. 4 in 2021 and No. 3 this past year; the team's best finish since its split national title in 1997.
Harbaugh was named the 2022 Big Ten Coach of the Year for guiding Michigan through a perfect regular season, the program won 13 games in a year for the first time in its existence. The 25 wins since 2021 are the most in any two-year span in program history as Harbaugh now has the fourth most wins all time at U-M behind only Bo Schembechler (194), Fielding Yost (165) and Lloyd Carr (122).
As for next season, it doesn't seem there's any reason to think the Wolverines will be any less than the favorite to again represent the Big Ten in the College Football Playoff. The biggest news of the off-season, senior running back and unanimous All-American Blake Corum announced he was returning for another season after rushing for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns in 11.5 games last year before a season-ending knee injury derailed his Heisman campaign.
The Wolverines also project to return 15 starters, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy, from last year's team. There were seven significant contributors who had NFL eligibility − Corum, DB Mike Sainristil, LB Mike Barrett, WR Cornelius Johnson, OL Zak Zinter, OL Trevor Keegan & DL Kris Jenkins − who all opted to come back.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh to return for 2023; extension coming