The rumors began to circulate late Saturday night that Michigan had offered Jim Harbaugh a three-year extension. While some of the finer details varied, most were consistent in that the deal included a lower base salary. On Monday night, trusted Michigan insider John U. Bacon appeared to confirm the rumors in a series of tweets.
“UM AD Warde Manuel has discussed with Jim Harbaugh a new contract with a lower base salary and buyout, though with good provisions to hire top assistants and large incentives for performance.”
“Harbaugh can now accept, negotiate, or decline. At least five NFL teams have expressed an interest in hiring him - per usual - though not clear if any have made firm offers yet.”
With an offer reportedly on the table, Warde Manuel and Jim Harbaugh joined a press conference late Tuesday afternoon to discuss another hot topic — the cancelation of the game between the Wolverines and Ohio State due to COVID issues within the Michigan program. Even with the cancelation being big news, it wasn’t surprising that most who attended the virtual press conference were far more interested in discussing the elephant in the room. Members of the media repeatedly asked Manuel and Harbaugh about the contract situation, and both men repeatedly dodged the question with a series of non-answers.
The only information that was offered up regarding Harbaugh’s contract came from Manuel as he made clear that a decision wouldn’t be made (or announced) until after Michigan’s season officially ended on December 19. That means that Michigan would delay the announcement of Harbaugh’s future until after national signing day on December 16, leaving many to speculate on exactly what that delay means.
If an offer was indeed extended to Harbaugh as indicated by Bacon, then Harbaugh clearly hasn’t accepted the offer at this point. If he had, there would be no reason whatsoever for Manuel and Harbaugh to dodge the question at this point in the year and unnecessarily delay an announcement that could negatively impact recruiting. The apparent delay can only mean one thing — Jim Harbaugh is still exploring all options, possibly with an offer already on the table from Michigan.
We’ll obviously see how this all plays out in the days ahead, but it seems clear that Harbaugh isn't eager to jump at any offer that Michigan is willing to make.