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Jim Harbaugh Turned Down A Contract That Would Have Made Him The Highest-Paid College Football Coach To Join The Chargers

We’re not even a month into 2024, and Jim Harbaugh has had himself quite a year. On New Year’s Day, his Michigan Wolverines made an impressive fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 27-20 in overtime. A week later, the Wolverines beat the Washington Huskies 34-13, winning the national championship. A week after that, he interviewed with the Los Angeles Chargers.

And now, a little more than a week later, Harbaugh is returning to the NFL. He agreed to a five-year deal to become the head coach of the Chargers.

While the total amount of Harbaugh’s new contract hasn’t been disclosed, he reportedly turned down a six-year, $11.5 million contract extension from Michigan. That deal would have made him the highest-paid coach in college football.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It wasn’t enough to keep Harbaugh from wanting another shot at the NFL. He also owes Michigan $1.5 million for breaking out of his contract early.

Harbaugh spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014, amassing a 44-19-1 regular season record. He led the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII during the 2012 season, losing to his older brother John and the Baltimore Ravens.

Now, Harbaugh will join a Chargers team that finished a disappointing 5-12 last season. But there’s a solid quarterback in Justin Herbert and a few strong pieces across the roster. Harbaugh’s presence should only help the team improve.

It caps off a pretty wild month in the college football landscape. Shortly after the national championship, Nick Saban abruptly announced his retirement. He was replaced by Kalen DeBoer, who was previously the head coach at Washington. Now that Harbaugh has left Michigan, Steve Sarkisian is the only coach from the College Football Playoff to still be at the same school.

The Chargers are hoping Harbaugh can continue the impressive track record he’s had at the collegiate level. He finishes his college career (for now, at least) with a 133-52 record, winning 72% of his games. That includes an 86-25 record at Michigan, culminating with a perfect 15-0 season this year.

Harbaugh has plenty to celebrate, and there could be more excitement in the coming weeks. Brother John is just two wins away from another Super Bowl victory with the Ravens.

It’s like he — and his dad — always say: “Who has it better than us? Noooobody!”

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