Ohio State fans just got their wish: Five more years of Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has signed a contract extension with Michigan that is set to run through the 2025 season, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel announced Friday afternoon.
“I continue to believe that Jim is the right man to lead our program in pursuit of Big Ten and CFP championships,” Manuel said in a news release. “Our program didn't achieve at a level that anyone expected this year, but I know those setbacks will drive the coaches, players and staff moving forward. Jim is a tireless worker and competitor. Following the completion of the season we talked for many hours on what it will take for Jim to lead and get us back on the right trajectory.”
“Jim loves the University of Michigan and this football program. He has been committed to this university, athletic department and football program since his days as a player and returning in 2015 as the head coach. He wants to do everything possible to build a championship football team while graduating our student-athletes. We all need to do our part to continue to help in that pursuit as it takes everyone pulling the same direction to have a championship level program.”
According to reports by The Athletic's Nick Baumgardner and The Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis, Harbaugh's new contract will pay him only $4 million per year – half of what he was paid in 2020 – but includes incentives for winning the Big Ten East, Big Ten championship, making the College Football Playoff and winning a national title (however unlikely that may seem right now) that give him the potential to still make as much as $8 million.
The extension comes even though the Wolverines went just 2-4 in 2020 before their season came to an early end due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program. Harbaugh's contract was set to expire after the 2021 season.
“Over the past few weeks, Warde and I had discussions that have been honest, open, insightful and constructive in moving our football program forward. Discussions that I look forward to continuing over the months and years ahead. We have a plan,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “There is work to be done and challenges to be addressed. These challenges are being addressed as we continue to strive for excellence in the classroom and championships on the field, a message that I hope is noted in the language of our agreed-upon contract.”
Over the course of his six years at Michigan, Harbaugh has gone 49-22 but has not led the Wolverines to any Big Ten Championship Games. An even bigger failure: Harbaugh is 0-5 in the rivalry game against Ohio State, including three losses by 23 points or more.
In a survey of Ohio State fans conducted by Eleven Warriors' Colin Hass-Hill in November, Harbaugh was chosen as the coach who would make Ohio State fans least nervous among 30 potential candidates to be Michigan's head coach in 2021, so it's safe to say Buckeye fans are feeling good about their team's standing in the rivalry for years to come now that the Wolverines have decided to keep Harbaugh around.
While his contract extension certainly doesn't guarantee he'll be Michigan's coach for five more years – coaches rarely ever coach into the final year of their contracts, and his deal reportedly includes a low buyout – it's at least a statement that Michigan, even though the Wolverines have underachieved throughout his tenure to date, believes he is the best coach to continue leading its football program for the time being.
Michigan is expected to have several new assistant coaches next season. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Mike MacDonald will replace Don Brown as Michigan's new defensive coordinator and plans to accept the job after the Ravens' NFL playoff run concludes.
Per Michigan's announcement on Friday, “Harbaugh is in the process of evaluating and putting together his staff for the 2021 season. More details will be shared at a later date.”