Jim Harbaugh’s offseason at Michigan: From NFL interview to NCAA investigation, tracking the turmoil

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jim Harbaugh’s program not often supplies a boring second, however even by Michigan’s requirements, the previous three weeks have been a wild experience.

NFL rumors, NCAA allegations and a police investigation of potential pc entry crimes inside Schembechler Hall have mixed to put Michigan instantly beneath the microscope. After a two-year run that put Michigan again amongst the elite packages in school soccer, the Wolverines have a loaded workforce that ought to contend for a 3rd straight journey to the College Football Playoff in 2023. They even have a protracted record of unresolved questions stemming from a tumultuous begin to the offseason.

Here’s a timeline of occasions that covers Harbaugh’s contract negotiations, the ongoing NCAA investigation and the uncertainty surrounding co-offensive coordinator Matt Weiss.

Dec. 31: Michigan’s season ends with a 51-45 upset loss to TCU in a CFP thriller. Despite a gutsy comeback, the Wolverines cannot overcome two choose sixes from JJ McCarthy and a fumble inside TCU’s 1-yard line. The Wolverines completed 13-1 and fell a step in need of the nationwide championship recreation for the second 12 months in a row.

eat 2: Harbaugh emerges as a candidate for the Denver Broncos head teaching job. Despite Harbaugh’s earlier statements to the opposite, sources say The Athletic he’s exploring a return to the NFL and would probably settle for an NFL job if supplied. Reports additionally emerge that Harbaugh had conversations with Panthers proprietor David Tepper, though the conversations didn’t lead to an interview.

eat 5: According to an entry in the campus crime log time-stamped at 12:44 pm, a UM worker stories “fraudulent exercise involving somebody accessing college e mail accounts with out authorization” at Schembechler Hall. That afternoon, Harbaugh releases a press release on social media reiterating that he does not know the future however expects to be teaching at Michigan in 2023.

Later that evening, Michigan receives a draft Notice of Allegations from the NCAA outlining alleged rule violations inside Harbaugh’s program. The allegations embody 4 Level II infractions that contain impermissible contact with recruits throughout the COVID-19 lifeless interval, an analyst performing teaching duties in follow and different low-level violations. Harbaugh additionally faces a extra severe Level I cost from the NCAA for not cooperating with investigators.

eat 9: Harbaugh conducts a digital interview with the Broncos.

eat 12: Michigan president Santa Ono releases a press release on social media saying he has had “constructive and constructive conversations” with Harbaugh and athletic director Warde Manuel. Ono additionally says he and Manuel are aligned in wanting Harbaugh to stay at Michigan.

In response, Harbaugh says he’s “in full help of President Ono’s message to our followers.”

eat 16: Harbaugh calls Ono and informs Michigan’s president of his intentions to keep at Michigan. Ono publicizes Harbaugh’s return on social media, and Harbaugh releases a press release expressing his love for Michigan.

“My coronary heart is at the University of Michigan,” Harbaugh writes. “I as soon as heard a smart man say, ‘Don’t strive to be out-happy, blissful.'”

GO DEEPER

With Jim Harbaugh again, Michigan can see path out of AD, NFL drama

eat 17: The UM Police Department confirms it’s investigating “a report of pc entry crimes that occurred at Schembechler Hall throughout Dec. 21-23, 2022.” A program spokesperson confirms Weiss, Michigan’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is on depart.

eat 19: Yahoo stories talks between Michigan and the NCAA have damaged down after Harbaugh refused to acknowledge that he purposefully misled NCAA investigators. A fast decision that features mutually agreed-upon penalties, together with a possible suspension for Harbaugh throughout the 2023 season, seems to be more and more unlikely, setting the stage for an extended combat between Harbaugh and the NCAA.

What Harbaugh’s return means for Michigan

The Jim Harbaugh Show continues, for higher or for worse. Offseason drama occurs yearly at Michigan, and the Wolverines all the time appear to rise above it as soon as the season begins. At some level, although, the weight of those controversies could begin to take a toll.

This is greater than the traditional back-and-forth concerning Harbaugh’s contract and his NFL prospects. Even if NCAA investigations do not carry the weight they as soon as did, the NCAA has the energy to create complications for Michigan, and the police investigation is a severe matter that has put a key member of Harbaugh’s employees in limbo. That’s plenty of offseason baggage for one program to carry.

Harbaugh’s return is nice information for Michigan’s short-term prospects, but it surely additionally comes with long-term questions. One of these is Harbaugh’s working relationship with Manuel, his boss for the previous seven seasons. Their communication has been sparse, sources stated, and Ono was the one who facilitated Harbaugh’s return. For Michigan to be hitting on all cylinders as a program, Harbaugh and his athletic director want to be aligned.

Recruiting is one other long-term query. Michigan’s 2023 class wasn’t one in every of Harbaugh’s greatest, partly as a result of the Wolverines missed out on native quarterback prospect Dante Moore. Landing a top-flight quarterback for 2024 is crucial, and Weiss’ state of affairs actually does not assist.

For all of the causes that Harbaugh’s program is likely to be weak, he has a knack for making a single-minded focus as soon as the season begins. That ought to be the case once more in 2023 with a veteran workforce that’s setting its sights on a nationwide championship.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

From all-time low to championship contenders: How Michigan righted itself so quick

Where does the NCAA investigation go from right here?

If the NCAA is ready for Harbaugh to again down, that could possibly be a protracted wait. He does not run from a combat and, in some methods, could relish the likelihood to go toe-to-toe with the NCAA. He has an enthusiastic supporter in Ono, who has been vocal in his admiration for Harbaugh. As a matter of precept, it is onerous to think about Harbaugh admitting wrongdoing if he believes he is been unfairly accused.

Another coach is likely to be tempted to settle for a brief suspension and transfer on, however that is not Harbaugh’s model. If Michigan and the NCAA cannot agree on a negotiated decision, the two sides could have to dig in for an extended combat with no assured consequence. Infractions circumstances can drag on for months or years, and who is aware of the place that would depart Harbaugh at the conclusion. He tends to take issues 12 months to 12 months, so he is likely to be content material to deal with the 2023 season and fear about NCAA penalties later, if they arrive at all.

What does this imply for Harbaugh’s contract negotiations?

Harbaugh didn’t have a contract extension on the desk when he knowledgeable Ono of his intentions to return. The sides aren’t far aside, a Michigan supply stated, however the NCAA investigation complicates the course of.

Now that Harbaugh has shut down the NFL talks, there isn’t any large rush to finalize an extension. He’s nonetheless beneath contract via 2026 and set to make $7.19 million in base pay subsequent 12 months. Any deal Harbaugh indicators could be aimed at acknowledging the accomplishments of the previous two seasons and heading off future NFL hypothesis.

Harbaugh and Michigan have pledged to work via the points in entrance of them and keep collectively for one more 12 months, if not longer. That provides Harbaugh’s program an opportunity to contend for a 3rd consecutive Big Ten championship, assuming the Wolverines could make it via the offseason unscathed.

Based on the occasions of the previous three weeks, subsequent season cannot come quickly sufficient.

(Photo: Chris Coduto / Getty Images)

Leave a Comment