Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh pleaded for time to savor his national championship after his Wolverines won the College Football Playoff title game over the Washington Huskies. But he’s not likely to get it.
“I just want to enjoy this. I hope you give me that. Can a guy have that?,” Harbaugh said after the game Monday night. “Does it always have to be, ‘What’s next, what’s the future?’ ”
Within hours of those postgame comments, the NFL coaching carousel continued to spin, as the Tennessee Titans fired Mike Vrabel. Six NFL head coaches have now been fired since November, and Harbaugh has been linked to several of those jobs. In fact, multiple sportsbooks are now taking bets on Harbaugh’s next move, with a shift back to the NFL the favored outcome.
Harbaugh previously was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers before taking the Michigan job prior to the 2015 season and he has interviewed for NFL head coaching jobs in Denver and Minnesota in recent years.
Even with the NFL playoffs set to start this weekend, the Harbaugh Watch has quickly become one of the NFL’s biggest stories. That situation has only been amplified by Harbaugh’s recent hire of high-powered agent Don Yee, who has extensive ties in NFL circles.
Not unlike how Shohei Ohtani held up much of the MLB free-agent market before he selected the Los Angeles Dodgers, a meaningful chunk of the NFL coaching vacancies are depending in part on what Harbaugh elects to do. Staying at Michigan would perhaps arrive with a $125 million contract extension, making Harbaugh the highest-paid coach in college football history.
“If I was in the pros, I would want to talk to him because of what he accomplished,” said Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. “However, I’m not in the pros, and I want to keep him as our [coach]. That’s my cross to bear.”