The usual goal for football coaches is to become a head coach in the NFL someday. It is the highest level of the game and holds the most prestige. So, when a coach finally makes it to the NFL, he stays. He certainly doesn’t return to the college ranks voluntarily, but that is precisely what Jim Harbaugh did.
His time with the 49ers was coming to an end, and Michigan needed a new head coach. It appeared to be a match made in heaven.
But the Wolverines have not been as successful as they hoped they would be under Harbaugh. With the team off to a 1-3 start, there is a good chance that Michigan may decide to move on. At the same time, there is a good chance Harbaugh chooses to move on.
BetOnline sportsbook has posted a prop bet on what the future holds for Harbaugh:
- Jim Harbaugh be doing next football season
- Not Coaching +160
- Michigan Coach +175
- NCAA Head Coach of Another Team +175
- NFL Head Coach +225
This season is Harbaugh’s sixth as the head coach at Michigan. In that time, the team has finished the season ranked inside the top 20 four times, won ten games three times, and has never had a losing season. With how things are going this season, that could change.
At 1-3 and with four games remaining, they will need to win out if they are going to finish the season with a winning record. But what will matter more to boosters is Harbaugh’s inability to beat Ohio State and his struggles against Michigan State.
Both issues have led to speculation about his job in the past. With the team struggling this year, losing to Michigan State, and probably losing to Ohio State, the writing may already be on the wall for Harbaugh.
Michigan does not tend to pull the trigger too quickly when getting rid of head coaches unless the team loses a lot. During Harbaugh’s time, they have not done much of that, but for the team to take such a big step backward in Year Six is concerning.
Some may consider the pandemic as a mitigating circumstance, but many will not. Michigan may give him another year because of it, but the university probably will not.
Other programs will be interested in him should he become available, but those programs will likely not be of the caliber that will interest him. He is going to want to go to another big-name Power Five school. After an unsuccessful six years at Michigan, such programs will not be knocking down his door.
That leaves either not coaching or coaching in the NFL.
Taking a break would not be a bad idea. Many coaches have stepped away for a year and then made their return the following season. If he wants, there will probably be someone willing to hire him as a studio analyst.
But there will also be an NFL team or two that will see Harbaugh leaving Michigan as a chance to steal an NFL-caliber head coach from the college ranks.
So—how should you bet?
Leaving the NFL for Michigan was a unique situation because he’s a Michigan man and was given a chance to head up the Michigan program. It is not hard to understand why he took the job,
No other program will have that kind of sway with him. So, when he leaves, it is more likely he will return to the NFL than anything else.