Odds on Jim Harbaugh’s Future Suggest He Won’t Coach in 2021; +175 to Remain at Michigan

Jim Harbaugh confused

Will Jim Harbaugh be coaching Michigan next season? Photo from Maize & Blue (Wiki Commons)

  • Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh’s odds to return to Ann Arbor in 2021 are +175
  • The veteran head coach’s odds to take a year off are at +160, while his odds to coach another college team are at +175
  • See odds and analysis on Harbaugh’s future for the 2021 season below

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is now favored to not be coaching during the 2021 season. His odds to take the year off sit at +160, while his odds to either return as either the UM coach or roam another college team’s sidelines are at +180. His odds to return to the NFL are at +225.

After opening with a resounding 49-24 win at then-No. 21 Minnesota to open the season, the Maize and Blue has lost three in a row for the first time since 2014 – the season before Harbaugh returned to his alma mater.

Harbaugh’s move to Ann Arbor was met with great fanfare by the entire football world nearly six years ago. He rebuilt the Stanford program, then took the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship games – including a trip to Super Bowl XLVII – where he nearly beat his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens.

But now, it seems like a forgone conclusion the 56-year-old’s tenure at Michigan is coming to an end.

Odds on Jim Harbaugh’s Coaching Future in 2021

Outcome Odds
Not coaching +160
Michigan coach +170
NCAA head coach of another team +180
NFL head coach +225

Odds as of Nov. 18

This season began with promise. The victory over the Golden Gophers at TCF Stadium marked Michigan’s first win over a ranked opponent on the road since beating in-state rival Michigan State in East Lansing in 2018.

But a 27-24 loss to the Spartans in the next game was followed by a 38-21 defeat to upstart Indiana in Bloomington (the Hoosiers snapped a 24-game losing streak to the Wolverines with the win) and a truly embarrassing 49-11 blowout loss to Wisconsin in the Big House.

Harbaugh owns a 48-21 record at Michigan, but his tenure has been a disappointment. His inability to get the Wolverines into the College Football Playoff conversation  pales in comparison to his inability to simply beat Ohio State (UM is 0-5 against the Buckeyes under Harbs).

So, what’s next for the erstwhile Belle of the Football Ball? Let’s handicap what’s next for the idiosyncratic coach.

No Mo at UM

If losing to Indiana for the first time since 1987 wasn’t bad enough, Week 11’s home loss to the Badgers was Harbaugh’s death knell in Ann Arbor.

Even with a win over the Scarlet Knights, the Wolverines still have the powerhouse Buckeyes on the slate. And we know how that opponent has gone for Harbaugh.

The six-year coaching stint in Ann Arbor has been Harbaugh’s longest at any one spot. But with the 2020 season going south, the momentum clearly appears a change of scenery is long overdue.

Gap Year … or More?

Harbaugh’s intense style doesn’t lend itself to longevity. It’s actually astonishing he’s lasted this long at his alma mater (which is probably the only reason why he has lasted this long).

But the honeymoon in his old college town ended a long time ago. Now, like his opposite number this week, Greg Schiano – who is similarly intense – Harbaugh might be best served to take at least 2021 off from coaching to recharge the batteries.

This appears to be the likeliest scenario out of the four options and the one I’m leaning toward.

Numerous coaches – including College Football Hall of Famers Barry Alvarez and Chris Ault – have stepped aside for a period of time, only to eventually return to the sideline at places like Wisconsin and Nevada.

For a man with numerous young children and likes where he’s at, it might serve Harbaugh best to take a break, watch his family grow and move into an administrative role in the Michigan athletic department.

Unfinished Business

Of course, Harbaugh is extremely competitive, too. What if a team like the Houston Texans – led by ultra-talented quarterback Deshaun Watson and play in the same city where Harbaugh once plucked his biggest recruit (Andrew Luck) from – comes calling?

How about the Chargers? Harbaugh closed out his playing career for the organization and has a good relationship with the Spanos Family.

There are certainly scenarios I can see where Harbaugh returns to the NFL.

But likelihood is he stays put in Ann Arbor – just not on the sidelines with a Sharpie necklace.

The pick: Not coaching (+160)

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Blair Johnson