Jim Harbaugh Open To NFL Return Following Underwhelming Tenure At Alma Mater

In the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Big 12 Conference game against Wisconsin, with his Michigan team trailing 31-21, the cameras flashed to HC Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines

His team was down 10 with 13 minutes left in the game and junior quarterback Joe Milton was 8 of 11 with 171 yards passing and two TDs in the second half after throwing for just 96 yards and missing on 9 of 13 pass attempts in the first half.

Michigan seemed to have all of the momentum. Then the red hot Milton threw a pick that was returned 36 yards. A few plays later Indiana punches one in on the ground to seal a 38-21 win and defeating Michigan for the first time since October 24, 1987. 

Another new low for Harbaugh.  

The announcer said, “Just when it looks like (Milton) was settling in, (he throws it) right into the arms…of the (Indiana cornerback)…” 

Can’t Win The Big One

The former NFL head coach looked frustrated on the sidelines. The sequence of plays reflected the inconsistency and failed opportunities of Harbaugh’s entire Michigan tenure. 

It’s been underwhelming and has raised many questions about his long-term future with the school. Harbaugh has heard the whispers and at this point, he might agree. 

Harbaugh’s managed to post three 10-win seasons since he arrived in 2015, but his 3-8 record against arch-rivals Ohio St (0-5) and Mich St (3-3) doesn’t sit well with boosters or fans of “Hail To The Victor”. Nor does his 10-12 record in ranked vs ranked games. As the lower-ranked team in these matchups, he’s 3-9 despite being the favorite 50% of the time. He also carries the stain of catching 3 losses to unranked teams during his tenure. 

According to multiple media outlets, there’s a growing belief that “Harbs” is open to an NFL return. The buzz is real and resonates in many NFL front offices. 

Back To The NFL?

He comprised a 44-19-1 record as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, taking them to three consecutive NFC Title games (2011-13) and a Super Bowl (2012), losing to his brother John and the Ravens. It’s the only time two brothers have faced off in the penultimate game as head coaches. 

Harbaugh was also instrumental in the rise of Colin Kaepernick, as he kept his starter, Alex Smith, on the sidelines and rode the dual-threat dynamo from Nevada to a near SB win — killing cats with the Zone Read. 

The one thing that may scare NFL teams away from him is the potential clashes with upper management. It would solely depend on that particular team and if they felt they had the front office makeup strong enough to handle a polarizing figure like Harbaugh. That’s a legitimate take, and he’s shown very little signs of changing his style or fixing things in Ann Arbor. 

When you step away from one of the 32 NFL HC jobs with scars, those scars will follow you. And when Harbaugh left “The Bay.” it was described as “Scorched Earth.”

If you want to know how bad things ended for him in San Fran, you need to only be reminded of some of what went down after his firing. The team went 7-25 in the two seasons following his departure and just recently seemed to get it right with the hiring of (Kyle Shanahan) as he led them to the brink of a SB victory in 2019. 

Finally, does the fact that his departure was toxic, divisive, and downright cartoonish say more about him or them? Did the 49ers purposely undercut him? Who knows for sure? But any NFL team that is seeking the services of Harbaugh will have to be prepared to do it his way and that hasn’t resulted in elite results at Michigan. 


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