Over the last few weeks, Michigan has been working on an extension for Jim Harbaugh, as The Wolverine and others have reported. Then, on Thursday, news broke of an investigation into the Wolverines program surrounding alleged sign-stealing rule violations.
UM and Harbaugh had been working on an extension that could come “sooner than later,” The Wolverine’s Chris Balas reported. Another report from John U. Bacon indicated it could come “within the next month” of his Oct. 9 post.
However, on Thursday, Michigan and the Big Ten confirmed an NCAA investigation into the program. At the center of the inquiry is a nearly 30 year old rule, which states “off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Ross Dellenger and Dan Wetzel.
More on Jim Harbaugh’s contract extension talks, possible NFL connections
Balas provided more details about Harbaugh’s extension talks during an appearance with Andy Staples. The goal was to move Harbaugh up the ranks of the Big Ten’s highest-paid coaches. While he’s the 13th-highest paid coach in the country, he sat behind Ryan Day, Mel Tucker and James Franklin as of the start of the season, according to the On3 Coaches Salaries Index.
The new extension, according to Balas, would bring him past those coaches.
Harbaugh’s name has come up in rumors with the NFL over the last couple offseasons. Two years ago, his name surfaced in connection with the Minnesota Vikings head coach job that ultimately went to Kevin O’Connell. Last offseason, the Denver Broncos were reportedly interested before Harbaugh again decided to stay in Ann Arbor. The franchise ended up bringing in Sean Payton.
Now, as Harbaugh faces his second NCAA investigation of the season, The Athletic reported “rampant speculation among other coaches and agents that he will be more tempted than ever to leave college football — and his ongoing battles against the NCAA — behind.”
Harbaugh previously said he had the “itch” to return to the NFL, which led to the Vikings conversations. As for teams to watch if he pursues a return to the league, Balas noted a couple connections he has.
“He’s got relationships with the Bears, where he played,” Balas said. “Las Vegas. An organization where he got his first coaching job. When he was vying for a quarterback coaching job at Michigan, he got passed up and set up with the Raiders, and loves that franchise. So, there are things to watch.”