Michigan Football: The Harbaugh Saga and its impact on recruiting

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh gestures from the sidelines against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second half of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh gestures from the sidelines against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second half of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Yet again, Michigan football Jim Harbaugh seems to have NFL interest…

This is a yearly occurrence for Michigan football fans. Jim Harbaugh has seemingly expressed interest in the NFL, and the NFL in him. Harbaugh has said he expects to be back at Michigan next year, but the fact that he is actively talking to NFL teams isn’t very reassuring.

Now, I believe that Jim Harbaugh will be back at Michigan. Yet, it’s crucial that Harbaugh makes up his mind soon. Maybe more importantly, Warde Manuel needs to give Harbaugh an offer that’ll make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the nation.

One thing that can make the NFL rumors go away is a huge contract. There’s no reason that Harbaugh should be paid less than anyone not named Kirby Smart or Nick Saban. Jim Harbaugh is a great coach. There’s no getting around that. He’s a very unique guy, but he’s an elite head coach who’s willing to adapt and who continues to learn.

In my opinion, Harbaugh will be back next year, and he will have a big contract. If he doesn’t, Warde Manuel may find himself without a job. While new NFL jobs are opening up, it doesn’t seem like Harbaugh is at the very top of any wishlists.

Despite virtually interviewing with the Broncos, Sean Payton seems like the clear favorite. Even then, I don’t think Harbaugh is the second option, or maybe even the third. The Panthers seem to have cooled, and there hasn’t been much news about the Colts.

Harbaugh loves Michigan football, and it’s going to take an amazing offer, with a chance to win a Super Bowl, to steal him away. I don’t see that this year. Especially when you consider what could be in store next year for the Wolverines.

Jim Harbaugh would be making a huge mistake if he were to leave this offseason. Next year’s Michigan football squad is going to be his best yet, and could legitimately win a national championship. He realizes this. The question now is how long this is going to drag on, and how much it’s going to hurt.

What impact will this have on Michigan football recruiting?

While Michigan football is in a much better situation than last year — most of the staff remains intact for now — this is still going to hurt them. I don’t see how Jim Harbaugh and the U-M athletic department wouldn’t understand that the longer this drags on, the more it hurts recruiting.

A slept-on aspect of this Harbaugh holdout is whether or not the guys will return. Key pieces, such as Trevor Keegan, Zak Zinter, Gemon Green, and others have NFL decisions to make. Blake Corum has already announced he will return, but will others follow?

If Harbaugh’s gone, I’d bet they’re gone. The NFL decision deadline is a lot earlier than the deadline for Harbaugh to decide, however. If Harbaugh doesn’t offer some clarity, we may see some of these pieces declare rather than stick around.

Harbaugh’s statement saying he expects to be back is definitely going to help limit the damage, but it’s clear that there is still some frustration.

Alex Orji’s father tweeted to express his frustration, and he’s not wrong — if Harbaugh doesn’t decide soon, recruiting will suffer. Michigan football should have a top 5-10 recruiting class in 2024. I’m not ready to go away from that prediction yet, but if this is still going on in 2-4 weeks, that prediction may change.

The fact of the matter is that this class starts and ends with Jadyn Davis. He is a must-land, and would frankly be a gigantic miss if the Wolverines don’t land him. As most top quarterbacks do, Davis wants to commit soon so that he can help build an elite class. If he commits soon, it’ll be Michigan.

If Michigan lands Davis, I have tons of confidence in this being an elite recruiting class. At this point I still expect Davis to commit to the Wolverines, but my confidence is slowly wavering.

Davis originally wanted to commit before the New Year, but then pushed that back to January. I haven’t heard any news about Davis recently, but you’ve got to imagine he’s waiting for Harbaugh to make up his mind.

You can bet that other schools, namely Clemson, are using Harbaugh’s uncertainty as a negative recruiting tactic. However, Michigan still offers Davis the best situation — he’ll be in line to potentially start as a freshman at the University of Michigan. That doesn’t happen often.

It’s still too early to tell just how much of an impact Harbaugh’s antics will have on recruiting. I’d like to remind everyone that we’re in a much better situation than last year. At this time last year, most fans believed Jim Harbaugh would soon be accepting the Vikings head coaching job.

Remember, Michigan football was also hurt badly by NIL last year. Michigan’s NIL is in a much better place now, and a big announcement is slated to come out shortly. While I don’t know the specifics, it’s rumored that Michigan is making a big deal with a big agency.

At this point in time, Michigan is still in a very good position recruiting-wise. While I’m starting to get nervous, I wouldn’t worry unless we don’t see any progress within the next few weeks.

Keep your eyes out for news regarding Jadyn Davis. If the Wolverines get him locked in soon, that’ll be an extremely promising sign.

What's next for Michigan Football?. dark. Next

Go blue.