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Sunday, March 3, 2024

All the Money Involved in Jim Harbaugh’s NFL Move

  • Head coach signed a five-year contract late on Wednesday to leave Michigan for the L.A. Chargers.
  • The school had tried to keep him by offering the largest salary of any college football coach.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh waves at fans during the National Championship parade in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.
Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jim Harbaugh is making his return to the NFL, with the Los Angeles Chargers announcing on Wednesday night they have hired Michigan’s championship-winning leader for their head coaching position.

Before he ultimately left, Michigan tried to make Harbaugh the highest-paid coach in college football, offering him $11.5 million annually for six years to keep him in Ann Arbor, according to the Associated Press. FOS reported in October that Harbaugh had been college’s 13th-highest paid coach, at $8.3 million, trailing now-retired Alabama coach Nick Saban, at $11.4 million, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, at $10.9 million, and 10 others.

Los Angeles gave its new coach a five-year deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The exact dollar figure tied to that pact isn’t yet public, but it’s likely to land close to or even above the lucrative Michigan offer that Harbaugh walked away from. For context, his brother John Harbaugh is one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, reportedly taking home $12 million per year with the Ravens. Bill Belichick previously led the league in annual salary, which reportedly sat at $25 million before his split from the New England Patriots.

Michigan is now owed $1.5 million as part of Harbaugh’s buy-out, an easy feat for the franchise, according to a contract obtained by USA Today. Compare that to other notable coaching buyouts this offseason: Washington owes Arizona $5.5 million for hiring away Jedd Fisch—but the CFP National Championship runners-up will collect $12 million from Alabama, who hired away Kalen DeBoer.

Harbaugh earlier this month led Michigan to a national title over Washington. He served as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 through ’14 before taking the job in Ann Arbor.

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