Bo Schembechler already would have fired Jim Harbaugh. Yesterday.

History leaves very little doubt of this, actually.

In March 1989, Michigan basketball coach Bill Frieder reached an agreement to coach Arizona State once the Wolverines’ NCAA Tournament run ended. Schembechler, by then in his role as Michigan’s AD, didn’t bother letting him wait that long.

In the process, he coined a phrase that sticks around to this day.

“A Michigan Man will coach Michigan,” Schembechler growled to reporters after firing Frieder and replacing him with assistant coach Steve Fisher on the eve of the NCAA Tournament.

The rest was history, with Fisher and the Wolverines reeling off 6 straight wins for the national title. But that’s not the part that’s relevant to today. It’s the precedent Schembechler set — commit to Michigan, or we’ll run your hindside out of here.

Ironically, it’s now one of Schembechler’s most ardent disciples who is now running afoul of that principle.

By interviewing with the Minnesota Vikings on National Signing Day — albeit the toothless modern version of signing day — the symbolism couldn’t be bolder.

Harbaugh, to use a literary reference an educated Michigan Man would appreciate, has crossed the Rubicon. He cannot coach another game at Michigan.

Vikings likely to take care of the problem

Fortunately, there probably won’t be a need for current Michigan AD Warde Manuel to spill blood over this one.

From every angle, reports are indicating that Harbaugh’s Wednesday trip to Minnesota will merely seal the deal. Unless he showed up to his interview without pants on, it sounds like the job is his to lose. And given that there’s about a 90% chance Harbaugh sleeps in his khakis, he probably showed up with his pants on.

This story is likely to end with handshakes and hugs and maybe a few tears. Harbaugh will leave Ann Arbor for the second time in his life tasked with one of football’s most quixotic quests: winning a Super Bowl with the Minnesota Vikings.

Of course, there is no such thing as a sure thing. The lowest point of Harbaugh’s playing career took place in Minnesota, so it would be a fitting location for this to somehow go awry.

And if it does … boy, oh boy. Things are about to get awkward. This situation can’t be patched up.

The goals of Jim Harbaugh and Michigan football are no longer in alignment. Harbaugh wants to return to the NFL and win a Super Bowl. And even if that opportunity doesn’t occur with the Vikings, it will somewhere else. Maybe it’s the Dolphins. Or the Saints. Or whatever jobs open up a year from now.

If you’re a school in the MAC, you can live with a coach who has one foot out the door. At Michigan, that’s just not going to cut it.

Schembechler himself pointed this out in his most frequently replayed piece of oratory.

“No man is more important than the team. No coach is more important than the team. Team, team, team.”

With his NFL dalliance, Harbaugh can no longer credibly claim that he’s putting the team ahead of his own needs. If the Vikings fall through, Manuel has no choice but to demand his resignation.

It will be ugly, but necessary.

Michigan needs stability

There would be no point in waiting another year to replace Harbaugh. The rest of the programs in the Big Ten East are far too stable right now for that to happen.

Michigan State is committed to Mel Tucker for 10 years. Penn State just re-upped James Franklin for the same amount of time. Ryan Day’s contract at Ohio State “only” runs through 2026, but with another Playoff appearance, it’s reasonable to think the Buckeyes will add more time onto his deal.

As far as Michigan is concerned, those are the schools that have to be reckoned with. And all of them will clobber the Wolverines in the upcoming recruiting cycle if Harbaugh remained for what would likely be a lame-duck season.

Harbaugh accomplished what he set out to do when he returned to his alma mater 7 years ago. It took longer than most Michigan fans would have hoped or expected, but the Wolverines are again nationally relevant. They’re the Big Ten champions. Beaters of Ohio State.

Whoever replaces Harbaugh will find the program in much better shape than he did. But it is very clearly time for that replacement to happen — whether or not the Vikings provide some anesthesia.