After years of rumors, Jim Harbaugh is finally leaving Michigan football to take a head coaching job in the NFL. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter and confirmed by others, Harbaugh will take over the Chargers.
It ends a years-long saga with Harbaugh and Michigan football. It seemed like there was talk of him leaving for the NFL every offseason. He nearly took a job with the Vikings in 2021. But after three straight wins over Ohio State, three straight Big Ten titles, and finally, a national championship, the time was finally right for Jim Harbaugh to leave Michigan football.
Here are three thoughts on his departure and what it means going forward.
Jim is leaving at the perfect time
It's not perfect in some ways. Michigan football could have done more to build on the national championship win if Harbaugh stayed, however, he's going out on top and it's hard to blame him.
Harbaugh won his last three games against the Buckeyes, his last three games against Penn State, his last two against Michigan State, his last game against Notre Dame, and also retired Nick Saban after his Michigan team beat the SEC champs in the Rose Bowl. That's in addition to three consecutive Big Ten titles and a national championship.
It was perfect way to end his career. Maybe Michigan will win again in November against Ohio State. It's possible but Harbaugh has the perfect legacy at Michigan and it makes sense to leave on top, as well as leave Ryan Day stuck forever on third base.
Don't blame Warde Manuel
Plenty of Michigan fans are going to blame AD Warde Manuel. And while I'm not saying I agree with every move that he's made or some of the moves that he hasn't, it's hard to lay the blame at his feet. Jim Harbaugh wants to win a Super Bowl and that's one thing Michigan can't offer him.
The Wolverines offered to make him the highest-paid coach in college football. They essentially met all of his demands and it still wasn't enough. People can say what they want, but I don't think there's a single thing Michigan could have done to keep Harbaugh.
Sherrone Moore has to be the guy
By all accounts, Sherrone Moore is the favorite to take over and seeing the chaos at Alabama and Washington recently after coaching changes, it makes even more sense. Moore is an elite recruiter and he can build on the culture Harbaugh created.
Also, if you hire Moore, you can keep the staff intact. At least some of it. Some are going to go with Harbaugh such as Jesse Minter (a prediction). But if Moore can keep Ben Herbert (strength coach) that would be huge.
We might hear some other names connected to the Michigan football job, but Moore should be announced as soon as possible so he can hit the ground running for the 2024 season. Nobody else makes sense in my mind. This Michigan team is still good enough to make the playoff in 2024, so the focus should be reloading, not rebuilding.