SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Unless negotiations fall apart, all signs indicate that Jim Harbaugh will be the next football coach at Michigan by today or Tuesday.
A deal between Harbaugh and Michigan has not been signed, but that isn’t stopping university staffers from getting together events to introduce Harbaugh on Tuesday, including a news conference and an appearance at an afternoon basketball game, a person within the university with knowledge of the plans told the Free Press on Sunday.
The hope is that Harbaugh will fly to Ann Arbor sometime today.
That adds to the mounting viewpoint that Harbaugh, an All-America quarterback at Michigan in the 1980s who has parted ways as coach of the the San Francisco 49ers after four seasons, will strike a deal with interim athletic director Jim Hackett and return to his alma mater in an attempt to rebuild the football program.
The 49ers announced after their victory over Arizona in their season finale on Sunday that that the team and Harbaugh had mutually agreed to part ways.
Late Saturday night, a long-time close friend of Harbaugh’s – a television sportscaster in the Bay Area – tweeted that Harbaugh was expected to be introduced as Michigan’s 20th head football coach on Tuesday. The sportscaster, Dave Feldman, works for Comcast Sports Network Bay Area, went to school with Harbaugh at Palo Alto High and hosts the pregame show and other game-day broadcast elements for the 49ers. Friends for decades, Harbaugh allowed Feldman to accompany him on his annual summer missionary pilgrimage to Peru to film a documentary last year.
Sunday, two prominent football journalists – one who covers the NFL, one who covers colleges – added to the chorus.
On ESPN Radio, John Clayton put it as a certainty that Harbaugh would coach at Michigan; Clayton being the first prominent NFL insider to call it a done deal. Every Sunday for the past month, NFL insiders have proclaimed that Harbaugh would stay in the NFL or wanted to stay in the NFL.
That was followed about a half-hour later by tweets from Bruce Feldman, the college football insider for Fox Sports. He said Harbaugh and his family would fly to Michigan today and attend Tuesday’s Big Ten opener against Illinois at Crisler Center.
According to several reports, Michigan officials have been in the Bay Area over the weekend waiting for their turn to talk formally with Harbaugh.
The NFL Network reported Dec. 17 that U-M was offering Harbaugh a six-year, $48 million contract to make him the highest-paid college coach, more than Alabama’s Nick Saban and on par with anyone in the NFL.
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.