According to a report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is expected to interview for the Denver Broncos’ head coaching job this upcoming week. It will be done virtually.
The Broncos will interview other candidates this week as well, including former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
The report also states that the conversation Harbaugh had with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper did not amount to anything, so you can cross that one off the list of potential landing spots in the NFL.
Despite the upcoming interview, Pelissero and Rapoport believe Michigan can squash any possible chance of Harbaugh going back to the pros.
“The powers that be at Michigan could help make that a reality by offering Harbaugh a contract that makes him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football and gives him a long-term commitment,” the report states. “Harbaugh could end up being Michigan’s longest-tenured coach since Bo Schembechler and he loves his alma mater. But it hasn’t been a smooth ride.
“In January 2021, coming off a COVID-shortened season, Harbaugh took a pay cut that nearly halved his salary. Then, following the team’s first Big Ten title since 2004, he had his pay restored — but it was still less than Penn State’s James Franklin and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker. Harbaugh earned $8.05 million in 2022. While there have been some discussions with Michigan about a raise in the past couple of weeks, nothing has come to fruition yet, helping open the door to NFL interest.
“While Harbaugh is listening to NFL teams, those close to him consistently speak of his love for Michigan and how much that job still means to him. There’s still time for the school to reciprocate that love contractually, and with the Broncos interview looming, the clock might be ticking to make it happen.”
The upcoming interview for Harbaugh comes during a very interesting time for the program. Not only did the Wolverines go down in the College Football Playoff just a week ago, but now they are under NCAA investigation for recruiting/other violations, including Harbaugh allegedly paying for hamburgers for two recruits during the COVID dead period and either misleading the investigators or not telling them the truth about it.
Smack dab in the middle of all this offseason action was Harbaugh releasing a statement that reads in part, “While no one knows what the future holds, I expect that I will be enthusiastically coaching Michigan in 2023.”
All in all, Harbaugh has serious interest in returning to the NFL; he wouldn’t be interviewing for the Broncos job if he didn’t. But he also appears to have serious interest in getting paid, as would I if I were in his position coming off two straight beatings over Ohio State, Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff appearances. Harbaugh reportedly has an agent now, so you can bet his agent is trying to get Harbaugh the best possible deal, whether it’s at Michigan or otherwise.
At this point, it’s up to Warde Manuel and the athletics department to work on a pay bump, among other incentives. It would be best to do that quickly because tomorrow is Black Monday in the NFL, the day where franchises that didn’t make the playoffs either retain or fire their head coach heading into the offseason.
More job openings = more chances for Harbaugh to leave Ann Arbor.
Buckle in, folks.