Michigan football: Has Jim Harbaugh already checked out of Ann Arbor?
It’s that time of year again: NFL rumors have started to surround Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh like an irritating batch of gnats that never seem to go away.
Analysts once again have started to chime in with their 2 cents regarding Harbaugh’s immediate future.
Braylon Edwards, a legendary Wolverines WR, continues to doubt Harbaugh, suggesting he “hasn’t done enough” during his 6 years.
Despite the talk, rumors and criticism, Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt has been a vocal supporter of Harbaugh for the past few seasons. However, in 2019, Klatt said he wouldn’t be surprised if Harbaugh left his post in Ann Arbor. This year, Klatt has rekindled that notion, saying he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Harbaugh ended up leaving the Wolverines — and leaving coaching all together.
“A lot of the hate that Harbaugh gets is deserved because a lot of people think, and his contract suggests, that they should be playing at the very top end of college football, the Ohio State end, the Alabama end. And they’re just not that type of program,” Klatt recently said while on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “If you’re just looking for Michigan to get back to doing Michigan things, they’re actually doing that (based on) their history.”
“I don’t know how it’s going to end there,” Klatt continued. “I don’t think they (would fire him), but I wouldn’t be shocked if he stepped away. I would not be surprised at all if in a matter of a few years, Jim Harbaugh is not coaching anywhere and driving around the country in an RV. And I’m not joking, I’m not being sarcastic there. I’m dead serious. I don’t think that — if it’s not going to work at Michigan, Jim’s not going to go anywhere else. He’s going to drive around the country in an RV — again, not sarcastic.”
It’s difficult to imagine Harbaugh not being involved with football, whether at Michigan or somewhere else. It’s even more difficult to imagine Harbaugh driving around the country in a RV.
During Harbaugh’s Zoom call on Monday, more of the same was mentioned by reporters, who simply wanted to know about Harbaugh’s intentions.
Reporters were asking Harbaugh to publicly dismiss NFL rumors, as he’s done in the past. They were asking him to give a concrete answer on how long he plans to stay at Michigan.
Harbaugh wouldn’t answer any of it. Nowadays, he’s beyond fed up with even entertaining those questions.
“I’ve always thought this: that actions speak so loudly. … I’ll let the actions speak as they have in the past,” Harbaugh said with conviction. “No matter what I say — I’ve been here for 5 1/2, almost 6 years — and I’ve experienced this. No matter what I say, the next day, something else is said. Or the next year, the same thing comes up.”
When pushed to be more specific, Harbaugh fired off, saying: “No matter what I tell you, tomorrow something else will be written by somebody else. … We’ve been doing this for 6 years — that’s my point. I’m not answering that question,” referencing the reporter’s inquiry regarding how long Harbaugh intends to stay.
But there is a tidbit worth noting. When asked if he wanted to be at Michigan, Harbaugh said “yes” before detailing why he hates doing the dance that he’s grown accustomed to doing for the past few seasons.
This past Saturday, following another bad road loss — this time 38-21 to No. 13 Indiana — Harbaugh had a weird look on his face, one that he hasn’t really shown during press conferences. Let the speculation run wild, right?! Was he over the whole thing, or was he just tired and/or upset? Was he physically and mentally drained?
At this point in the game, no matter what he does or says, Harbaugh just can’t win in the court of public opinion. He could say he wants to stay at Michigan for 20 years and writers would speedily pound away on their keyboards, coming up with reasons why he doesn’t deserve that type of longevity or contract.
He could say that there is 100 percent no truth to any NFL rumors, yet the media would doubt Harbaugh and suggest his words were merely a smokescreen. Lots of coaches have said they wanted to stay, only to jet off when least expected.
At 1-2, the writing is on the wall for Michigan: Win games or suffer through a long, long season. That’s it. There is nothing more, nothing less. Losing to Michigan State and Indiana has cast serious doubt on the Wolverines’ ability to finish strong. They’re already far too far behind in the race for a Big Ten championship.
It’d take a miracle for Michigan to pull one off in 2020.
It’d also take a miracle for the Harbaugh chatter to cease.
Has he checked out of Ann Arbor?
He’s still there.
And he plans to coach his players through every practice and every game, just as he was hired to do when arriving Dec. 30, 2014 to his alma mater.
Media can say they wouldn’t be surprised if he left Michigan after this season, though his current contract runs through 2021. Media can say that he’s bound for the NFL. Media can say anything they want.
At the end of the day, Harbaugh knows what he wants. He’s been somewhat clear, too. However, his refusal to give definitive, concrete answers to timeline questions, questions about his intentions and other related discussion, gives rise for more rumors and speculation.
If he hasn’t bolted yet, he’s probably not going to leave — at least not prematurely.