Jim Harbaugh’s demands ultimately made Michigan their own worst enemy

This is not a good look for the University of Michigan's athletic department at all.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Despite winning a national championship at his alma mater, Jim Harbaugh was unable to reach an agreement on being Michigan's head coach for life. Harbaugh had a reputation of bouncing from job to job in his coaching career, and arguably his playing career as well. However, he had been back in Ann Arbor for nearly a decade. The Wolverines just won the College Football Playoff, and he is gone.

Harbaugh decided it was time to return to the NFL earlier this week. He opted go to back to one of the many teams he played for, the Los Angeles Chargers, a talented team that always seems to underperform. That job has obvious challenges, but it wasn't like Michigan was a well-run operation when he took over in 2015 either. Regardless, we have to wonder what went wrong in negotiations.

Apparently, the university was dragging its feet when it came to getting certain language either approved or inserted into the contractual agreement. The University of Michigan regularly rejected the terms of the deal put forth by Harbaugh's attorneys. It was not until the 11th hour that the university caved and gave in to his demands. By that point in time, he was already bolting for the Bolts.

This man saw his pay cut in half after COVID and took his alma mater to three straight playoffs...

Of course, this may have had everything to do with the not-so-secret immunity clause he wanted...

Michigan looks terrible by not being able to retain Jim Harbaugh

Look. Harbaugh is not a noted wanderer, but a man who burns bright white. His personality is not for everyone, but his abrasiveness and joy for life makes him incredibly easy to go into battle with. He is not a thermometer, he is a thermostat, a man capable of changing the temperature in the room. It is for that reason why I am so very bullish on the Chargers winning big in the long run under Harbaugh.

However, I think his departure from Michigan has everything to do with what might be coming next. The sign-stealing scandal has not been resolved. It feels like the other shoe is going to drop at some point. I think that by going to the NFL it may cover a two-or-three-year show cause for Harbaugh for his role, or knowledge in the sign-stealing scandal. Requesting an immunity clause feels incriminating.

Overall, Michigan not being able to retain Harbaugh comes with a great price. It may have been what athletic director Warde Manuel wanted. They had an icy working relationship to begin with. However, it kind of makes you wonder if this contractural fumbling of the bag will either lead to Manuel's eventual resignation or dismissal. You cannot say that he was acting in the best interest of the university here.

Just because Harbaugh left for the NFL does not mean the ripple effects of him leaving have ceased.

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