Sources: Jim Harbaugh will not be fired as Michigan coach

Sunday, December 1, 2019 - 1:28pm

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 9-3 record in 2019.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 9-3 record in 2019. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

Though some fans have called for his dismissal, both throughout the season and in the wake of Saturday’s loss to Ohio State, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s job is safe heading into next season, according to multiple sources close to the University who spoke to The Daily on condition of anonymity, as they were unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter. 

As long as athletic director Warde Manuel and University President Mark Schlissel want Harbaugh, Harbaugh won’t be fired, per one source. And ahead of the Board of Regents’ meeting on Thursday, nothing has indicated otherwise.

Manuel has said more than once that he wants Harbaugh to retire at Michigan, and repeated the sentiment at Big Ten meetings last May.

“I stand my decision and my statement that I want him to retire here,” Manuel told reporters at the time.

In January, Harbaugh will finish year five of a seven-year deal to be Michigan’s head coach. At $7.5 million in 2019, he’s the third-highest paid coach in college football. Were he to be fired, Harbaugh would be owed his annual base salary and additional compensation for the remaining two years of the deal — $12.1 million in total.

After a 9-3 regular season that ended with an embarrassing 56-27 loss at the hands of Ohio State on Saturday — Michigan’s eighth-straight loss in the rivalry, five of which have been under Harbaugh — the Wolverines will find themselves relegated to a second-tier bowl game, most likely the Holiday Bowl.

Harbaugh has taken Michigan from the dregs of the Brady Hoke era, a 5-7 mark at the low point of 2014, to a consistent top-15 program that can reasonably expect nine or 10 wins annually. He has not made the team a national title contender, the losses to Ohio State being the biggest roadblock to doing so. 

For his part, Harbaugh has repeated a desire to stay at Michigan, even as NFL rumors have swirled around him every year. When those rumors came up this year in a report published by FootballScoop saying, “Harbaugh’s representatives have their eye on getting their client back to the NFL,” Harbaugh refuted both the report and the idea that he even had an agent in a letter to recruits and parents.

“I am reaching out to let you know that the recent claims that I am ‘pursuing an exit strategy’ are total crap,” Harbaugh said in the letter, obtained by TheMichiganInsider on Oct. 23. “It’s an annual strategy driven by our enemies to cause disruption to our program and to negatively recruit. By the way, I don’t even have an ‘agent or representative.’

“I am committed to your sons, their education and to their development as football players and people.”

The athletic department declined comment when reached by The Daily.

This story has been updated since publication.