SI: People close to Jim Harbaugh believe he wants to stay with Michigan football

Well before Monday evening, when Michigan football won the national championship, many in the media acted as if Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL is a foregone conclusion.

Harbaugh had long been negotiating a contract extension with the university, only for it to remain unsigned. That has only added fuel to the fire that Harbaugh has maybe coached his last game in Ann Arbor.

But, according to SI’s Michael Rosenberg, there are those close to the ninth-year Michigan head coach who believe he’d prefer to remain the head coach of the Wolverines.

In NFL circles, there is a sense that Jim Harbaugh is ready to return to the pros. He just led Michigan to a national championship. He has said he wants to win a Super Bowl. He talked to NFL teams in each of the last two winters. He recently hired Don Yee, an agent with extensive experience negotiating NFL contracts, and he still has not signed the extension Michigan offered him last month.

But people around Harbaugh and the Michigan program have a very different impression: He could leave, but he prefers to stay at Michigan.

If that’s the case, why has Harbaugh not signed the new contract?

In case you haven’t noticed, the NCAA has been poking around the Michigan football program for over a year now. In both investigations, Harbaugh has proclaimed his innocence.

That’s a potential sticking point. Per Rosenberg, Harbaugh wants to be sure that if the NCAA makes an unprecedented move, his job in Ann Arbor is still secure.

People familiar with the discussions say Harbaugh wants contractual assurance that, if the NCAA comes down hard on him based on information the school already has, Michigan cannot then fire him “for cause.”

Obviously, there have been NFL rumors surrounding Harbaugh since he arrived save for the 2021 offseason. In each of the past two years, he interviewed for NFL jobs, but remained the head coach of the maize and blue.

Also, it’s not entirely surprising that Harbaugh has not signed his extension while his team has been on a championship run. The enigmatic coach has often been of a ‘one-track mind’ and prefers to put his sole focus on football during the season.

Would it be surprising if Harbaugh left now that he has won a championship?

Of course not.

He certainly would like to add a Super Bowl win to his expanding trophy case. But it would be equally as likely, in our eyes, for him to choose to stay and continue to build what is becoming a dynasty, at least in the Big Ten.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire