Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will return as Wolverines football coach in 2023 after being rumored as a top candidate for multiple NFL openings over the past several weeks. Harbaugh was tied to numerous NFL opportunities after leading Michigan to its second consecutive Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff appearance. Harbaugh has a history of success in the NFL, including three playoff bids and a Super Bowl appearance in four years with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14).
School president Santa Ono first revealed Harbaugh's commitment to remaining with Michigan on Twitter on Monday, and the Wolverines coach immediately confirmed the news of his return for a ninth season at his alma mater with a brief statement.
"I love the relationships that I have at Michigan -- coaches, staff, families, administration, President Santa Ono and especially the players and their families," Harbaugh said. "My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say, 'Don't try to out-happy, happy.' Go Blue!"
The announcement closes rampant speculation that Harbaugh would consider a jump back to the NFL. Harbaugh previously spoke with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, and also was tied to openings with the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. He told the Queen City News that "I think I will be coaching Michigan next year" after his conversation with Tepper, yet the door remained open on a potential NFL return.
Harbaugh previously interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings following the 2021 season, an opening that was ultimately filled by Kevin O'Connell, but it still took well into February 2022 for Harbaugh to ultimately commit to returning to Ann Arbor. He later characterized the interest as a "one-time thing" to the Detroit Free Press, but once again found himself engaging with NFL teams following the 2022 season.
The NFL flirtation in 2021 ultimately caused issues within the program as former Broyles Award-winning offensive coordinator Josh Gattis departed for the same position at Miami, while defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald returned to the NFL to join Harbaugh's brother, John, with the Baltimore Ravens.
After his dalliance with the NFL last offseason, Harbaugh agreed to a five-year, $36.7 million extension through the 2026 season. After winning a second consecutive Big Ten title, Harbaugh could have leverage to push for another extension.
Michigan projects as a unanimous top-five program in the preseason rankings with Harbaugh back in the fold. Heisman-contending running back Blake Corum will return for his senior season after suffering a season-ending knee injury, joining running back Donovan Edwards and quarterback J.J. McCarthy to form one of the most entertaining backfields in the Big Ten.