Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh evades questions about possible leap to NFL before title game against Washington


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Jim Harbaugh has been on the Michigan football sideline for nine seasons. Before he returned to Ann Arbor to coach his alma mater, Harbaugh had considerable success coaching in the NFL.

He led the 49ers to a Super Bowl during his four-year run in San Francisco. On Monday, Harbaugh will coach the Wolverines in the College Football Playoff national championship game against the Washington Huskies.

While Harbaugh prepares for the game that could end Michigan’s 26-year national title drought, speculation continues to grow about his potential NFL future. 

Harbaugh fielded questions Saturday in Houston, site of this season’s national championship game, about whether his rumored interest in pro football would be impacted by the result of Monday’s game.

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh speaks during national championship game media day at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Junfu Han/USA Today Network)

“I have no idea about that,” Harbaugh said. “I couldn’t be more happy to be here. This is a tremendous city. They do everything big in Texas, and this is cool. This is right where we want to be. This is where we worked, to get there.”

Harbaugh also downplayed the notion he was one of the top stories heading in the title game.

“(Fans) really don’t come to watch the coaches, they don’t come to watch the administrators. They come to watch the players,” the Michigan coach said Saturday.

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Harbaugh dismissed a number of NFL-related questions throughout the press conference. The 60-year-old coach is reportedly weighing a 10-year, $125 million contract extension. The offer is believed to include a clause that would prevent Harbaugh from taking a job at the NFL level for the 2024 season.

Jim Harbaugh looks on

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines after the Big Ten championship against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium Dec. 2, 2023, in Indianapolis.  (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Harbaugh hinted he would discuss his future plans after Monday’s game. 

“I’ll gladly talk about the future next week,” Harbaugh said. “And I hope to have one. How about that? Future? I hope to have one.”

At one point during his press conference, Harbaugh shrugged off a question about the difference in time management when it comes to coaching at the college football level and in the NFL. 

“I don’t have that list in front of me,” he said. “I don’t have that list.”

Jim Harbaugh celebrates winning the rose bowl

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates with the Leishman Trophy after beating the Alabama Crimson Tide 27-20 in overtime to win the CFP semifinal Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium Jan. 1, 2024, in Pasadena, Calif.  (Harry How/Getty Images)

But Harbaugh was willing to share his stance on sharing revenue with players.

“There used to be a saying. Old coaches — my dad’s used it, my brother’s used it — we’re all robbing the same train here,” Harbaugh said.

“So that needs to change. It’s one thing for somebody to say, ‘Well, they’re getting NIL.’ But the billions that are being generated, they’re not getting much of. Very small percentage. They’re getting the same amount as I got in the 80s. You’re getting scholarship, room, board, books and tuition.”

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As of Saturday, Michigan is a 4.5-point favorite over Washington in the national championship game.

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