BY NICK SPAR
Daily Sports Editor
Published January 6, 2011
Like many University of Michigan alumni, Stephen Ross is hoping that Jim Harbaugh gets a new head coaching job.
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But Ross isn’t hoping that he ends up in Ann Arbor.
The Miami Dolphins owner and Ross School of Business namesake approached the University to ensure that the school wouldn't be vying for the Stanford coach to replace former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez, ESPN.com recently reported.
Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene told The Michigan Daily that he couldn't confirm whether Ross had been in contact with the University about recruiting Harbaugh.
“We don’t have any comment regarding our coaching situation at this time,” he told the Daily in a phone interview.
Ross was reportedly assured by a University official that Harbaugh wasn't interested in Michigan’s now-vacant coaching position.
And according to the same report, Ross flew to the West Coast in an attempt to persuade Harbaugh to take the Dolphins’ head coaching position. The reports also said Ross is willing to pay the former Michigan quarterback between $7 million and $8 million per year, which would make him the NFL’s highest-paid coach.
The rumors that Ross and the Dolphins are pursuing Harbaugh has left their coaching situation muddled. Though Tony Sparano is currently under contract as the team’s head coach for one more season, there is speculation that he'll be fired after a disappointing 7-9 season. But as of late Wednesday night, ESPN.com reported that Sparano would be retained.
The University's Athletic Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Daily.
Within the past couple of months, Harbaugh has garnered national attention in both the collegiate and professional ranks. Before Michigan’s regular season even ended, many thought he'd ultimately return to his alma mater and become the team’s next head coach.
But the media buzz surrounding the Harbaugh-to-Michigan rumors has subsided since Saturday’s Gator Bowl loss. And Athletic Director David Brandon all but eliminated the possibility of Harbaugh signing with Michigan during his press conference on Wednesday.
“Jim Harbaugh is close to Michigan, and I think Jim is in a position where he's making important decisions as (they relate) to where his career is going,” Brandon said. “I personally believe that Jim Harbaugh is headed to the NFL.”
He later added: “There are many stories ambling around out there about what Jim Harbaugh is thinking and going to do and where his interests are as there are about all of the atmosphere that's been around here the last few days.
“So I don't want to speak on behalf of Jim and I don't want to speak on behalf of the people who say they are speaking on behalf of Jim. Jim has got decisions to make. Jim Harbaugh is a great coach, he had a terrific season and I think the world of him.”
Harbaugh has rebuilt the Stanford program since he accepted its head coaching position before the 2007 season. After seven consecutive losing seasons, the Cardinal posted an 8-5 record in 2009, and on Monday, Harbaugh led the team to an Orange Bowl victory — its first bowl win since 1996.
Harbaugh’s brother, John — the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens — recently offered some insight on Jim’s chances of becoming Michigan’s coach.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” John said on his weekly radio show on Tuesday. “I think the Michigan thing is done now. I think that’s over. I don’t think he’s going to have anything to do with that. I think that says a lot about Stanford.”