Michigan signs Jim Harbaugh to five-year contract extension

Jim Harbaugh now has more than one year left on his contract at Michigan.

The Wolverines’ coach has signed a contract extension with the school through the 2025 season. The 2021 season was set to be the final season on Harbaugh’s contract.

"I continue to believe that Jim is the right man to lead our program in pursuit of Big Ten and [playoff] championships," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. "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.”

Harbaugh’s near-term future with Michigan has seemed secure ever since the school didn’t make a coaching change at the end of the 2020 season. It’s very rare for a coach at a Power Five school to enter the final year of his contract. And if Michigan wasn’t going to fire Harbaugh and find a replacement it reasoned that the school was going to work out an extension with its polarizing coach that had reasonable terms for both parties.

“Over the past few weeks, Warde and I had discussions that have been honest, open, insightful and constructive in moving our football program forward,” Harbaugh said. “Discussions that I look forward to continuing over the months and years ahead. We have a plan.”

"There is work to be done and challenges to be addressed. 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.”

Michigan was 2-4 in 2020

The 2020 season was Michigan’s worst season in Harbaugh’s six years at the school. The Wolverines’ defense was torched as UM went 2-4 over six games. The team’s season was truncated due to COVID-19 cases; Michigan didn’t play Ohio State in 2020 for the first time in over 100 years.

Harbaugh has a career record of 49-22 at Michigan and the school has won 10 or more games in three of his six seasons at the school. But the last 10-win season came in 2018. That season ended with a Peach Bowl loss. In 2019, Michigan finished 9-4 and lost the Citrus Bowl to Alabama.

While Michigan has lost four consecutive bowl games under Harbaugh it has also failed to beat Ohio State in his tenure. The Wolverines have not made a Big Ten championship game in Harbaugh’s time at the school and he’s been unable to beat UM’s biggest rival.

That futility against Ohio State — along with Michigan’s 3-3 record against Michigan State — has soured many Michigan fans on Harbaugh. But if Michigan was going to fire him, who would the school hire? There was no obvious candidate to succeed him if Michigan wanted to make a coaching change and that coach would be UM’s fourth in 14 seasons after Lloyd Carr’s retirement.

Harbaugh has also been the most successful coach of those that followed Carr. Rich Rodriguez’s teams never won more than eight games in a season in his three years with the schoo,l and UM failed to win more than eight games in the final two seasons of Brady Hoke’s four-year tenure.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh stands on the sideline during the first quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Wisconsin in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh now has a longer contract. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

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