The Wolverine

February 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 21 the national title," he wrote. "More sig- nificantly, Michigan cut way back on the buyout — what the school would have to pay Harbaugh if it fired him. "Of all the crazy aspects of big- time college sports, the buyout boom is the craziest. Paying a coach mil- lions of dollars to do his job is one thing, but paying him millions of dollars after he failed to do it is quite another." The buyout amount, in case Michi- gan chooses to terminate Harbaugh, starts at $4 million in 2021 and de- creases by $1 million for each en- suing year. If Harbaugh chooses to leave this year, he'll owe Michigan $2 million — a figure that decreases by $500,000 during each ensuing year. Put it this way — if it were a mar- riage, this isn't a prenup that would prevent anyone from seeking a divorce. That's not the hope, of course. Har- baugh has told many he's 'betting on himself' with his new deal, and those around him have said he's 'in it for the long haul.' Should he turn the program around and become the self-de- scribed 'jackhammer ' he was when he first arrived in 2015, it would be a fantastic feel-good story for one of Michigan's favorite sons. ❏ Bob Wojnowski, The Detroit News: "So, Harbaugh is back in the physical sense, and he should be wildly determined to prove he's back in the competitive sense. This was the expected conclusion, but that doesn't make it the ideal one. It's a practical one that buys both sides time to see if the 2-4 season was just a bizarre, COVID-tinged mess, or another sign of what the program is becoming. The Wolverines are 11-10 since late 2018, after winning 10 games in three of his first four seasons. "The protracted wait raised questions about how committed Harbaugh and Michigan were to each other. While being fiscally responsible, [di- rector of athletics Warde] Manuel also likely was bruising an ego. For this to succeed, Harbaugh can't be a reluctant returnee. They tried to allay those concerns with [the new contract] announcement. "If the apparent reticence was damaging perception- wise, it seemingly didn't harm Michigan's top-12 re- cruiting class. There's only one way for Harbaugh to stem that perception slide — build a team and a staff that's organized, energized and capable of winning big games." Adam Rittenberg, "Harbaugh will get an- other chance to get his alma mater on track in 2021. He faces key decisions on players, staff and scheme. The new contract is largely for show, and if Michigan's product doesn't improve next fall, Harbaugh will face legitimate pressure to keep his job. "Harbaugh's first priority is fixing a defense that this season ranked 89th in yards allowed per game, 79th in rush yards allowed per game and 96th in pass yards allowed per game. "Michigan allowed at least 24 points in every game this season. The Wolverines dealt with key injuries, but their defense was a clear weakness." Andy Staples, The Athletic: "Harbaugh has to — gasp — actually meet the program's stated goals to earn a higher salary than most Power Five coaches. This isn't a novel concept for most of us, but this is downright revolutionary for a major college football coach's contract in The Year Of Our Lord 2021. Manuel's peers must be asking themselves what manner of sorcery allowed him to hammer out such an agreement. "The truth is the new deal reflects what Harbaugh is now: An above-average Big Ten coach who has yet to prove he can beat his rival, win his division or win the league. Doing any of those things — let's be honest; doing the first means you can do the other two — will make Harbaugh's pay com- mensurate with his achievements. Failing to do those things will get him paid less than Pur- due's Jeff Brohm or Min- nesota's P.J. Fleck, which seems fair because what those two have done at their programs is, rela- tively speaking, more difficult than what Har- baugh has done thus far at Michigan. "And, let 's be honest again, failing to do these things another time or two will get him fired. But that would only cost Michigan $4 million after the 2021 season — dropping by $1 million after each successive season — which is relatively painless in this day and age." Harbaugh's new contract includes several large bonuses, including $1 million each for winning the Big Ten cham- pionship game and College Football Playoff, $500,000 if his Wolverines win the Big Ten East division outright, and $500,000 if his team reaches the CFP semifinals. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL What They're Saying About Jim Harbaugh's Extension

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