Earlier this month, Ohio State legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter dropped the bombshell report on Fox Sports 1’s “First Things First” that there was mutual interest between Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and at least one NFL team.
"I'm just gonna tell you guys a name: watch out for Jim Harbaugh, because he's potentially trying to get his way out of Michigan."— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) December 5, 2018
— @criscarter80 on possible fit for Packers next head coach pic.twitter.com/9SaEXJ5P7B
The Buckeye icon’s report was roundly dismissed by those in and around the Wolverine program, including athletic director Warde Manuel.
“I would say consider the source of the comment,” the AD said. “Listen, I have not missed any sleep. Jim has not said anything to me about it... So from my perspective, it has no validity at all. There’s been zero conversations about it. I believe Jim is very happy here.”
Harbaugh also spoke out in his own defense, unequivocally denying his interest in leaving Ann Arbor, and blaming the rumors on negative recruiting.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before Signing Day,” Michigan Man Adam Schefter said Harbaugh told him. “It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda.”
Now, I don’t want to put words in Harbaugh’s mouth and assume that he was accusing Carter of purposely starting rumors about his potential departure in order to aid the Buckeyes in recruiting, but it does kind of sound like that’s what he’s saying. I personally don’t believe that Carter made up his report to start trouble for Harbaugh, but I also don’t doubt that he took great pleasure in reporting something that he was told.
Now, because of Harbaugh’s successes as a player and coach at both the collegiate and professional ranks, it’s not a surprise that when the coaching carousel gets going every year (coincidentally also around the new, two-year old Early Signing Period), that his name would be brought up, especially given his reputation for developing young quarterbacks. Jon Gruden was rumored for every single major college and pro opening for over a decade, whether he was legitimately interested or not; it’s part of being a high profile coach.
So, in general, we ignored CC’s report (although we love him), because he is admittedly far from unbiased when it comes to the Michigan program. However, as the NFL inches toward the final week of the regular season — and the annual Black Monday — there are additional reports about pro teams being interested in procuring Harbaugh’s services.
Last night, NBC Sports’ Mike Florio reported that the New York J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets are “planning to make a run at Harbaugh” following Week 17.
Source: Jets plan to make a run at Jim Harbaugh https://t.co/5awQBv6oMi pic.twitter.com/OXZsoM2a8j— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 24, 2018
Florio reports that the Jets have been looking into bringing Harbaugh in for over a month, and they intend to make him “a financial offer he can’t refuse.” Harbaugh currently makes more than $7 million per year, so apparently the Jets will look to go above and beyond that already sizable number.
Of course, it is important to remember that the Jets have not yet fired current head coach Todd Bowles, who is 24-39 in four seasons in New York.
Whether or not Harbaugh would entertain the Jets’ (or any other NFL team’s) offer is yet to be seen. But, there are two things that we know about this annual tradition of Harbaugh to the NFL rumors; it likely doesn’t help Michigan recruiting, and it’s even less likely to stop any time soon.