Jim Harbaugh's Contract Remains The Elephant In The Room

With just over a year left on a 7-year deal, Jim Harbaugh's future at Michigan is a bit of an unknown.
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Jim Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan has not played out how fans had hoped it would when he returned to Ann Arbor as the Wolverines’ head coach in 2015. With only

13 months left in his seven-year contract Harbaugh has yet to secure an extension that would keep him in Ann Arbor past 2021.

At .723 at the beginning of this season, only 10 coaches had better winning percentages than Harbaugh at their current schools. However, the Wolverines’ shortage of wins against ranked opponents and losing record this season raise questions about how long the head coach will remain at the forefront of his alma mater.

Michigan fans are less than impressed by the Wolverines’ performance against rivals and ranked opponents. Michigan has failed to reach a Big Ten title game and suffered four straight bowl losses. What might be worse for Michigan fans is that the Wolverines have gone 3-3 against Michigan State and 0-5 against Ohio State since Harbaugh came back to Ann Arbor.

In a crucial year for securing a contract extension, Harbaugh and his Wolverines have continued to underperform with a 2-3 season record. In Week 2 of Big Ten play, an unranked Michigan State team upset the then-ranked No. 13 Wolverines. A Week 3 loss against Indiana ended the Wolverines’ 33-year winning streak against the Hoosiers. The third strike for the Wolverines came with a 49-11 loss against Wisconsin in Week 4.

Michigan’s three-game losing streak was broken when the Wolverines pulled off a 48-42 triple-overtime victory against a Rutgers team that has lost 25 of its last 26 Big Ten games and that Michigan beat 52-0 in 2019.

Michigan will try to break even this weekend against the 0-5 Penn State Nittany Lions, but a victory over a winless team will be less than impressive for Harbaugh and his Wolverines.

With a compensation package valued at over $8 million, Harbaugh is the fourth highest-paid coach in college Football. However, his team has found little success compared to programs with other top-paid coaches. Harbaugh is only surpassed by Nick Saban, head coach of the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, Ed Orgeron, whose LSU Tigers won the NCAA Football Championship in 2019 and Dabo Swinney, who is at the forefront of a Clemson team currently ranked No. 4 in the country.

If Michigan chooses to part ways with their former quarterback before his contract ends at the end of 2021, it will cost the school an estimated $10 million buyout.