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Column: Buckeye fans better hope Harbaugh stays at Michigan

If NFL rumors around Harbaugh are true, how could it impact the Buckeyes’ success against Michigan?

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images
Jami Jurich Jami Jurich puts her Ohio State journalism degree to good use, working as professional copywriter by day, SB Nation contributor by night.

The more I sit with recent rumors that Jim Harbaugh could leave his head coaching position at Michigan to return to the NFL, the more undone I become over the whole concept. With this week’s reports that the ball is in Harbaugh’s court while the Wolverines allegedly await his decision on a new contract offer, this felt like the right time to speak my truth — it is in Buckeye fans’ best interest for Jim Harbaugh to stay at Michigan.

For those who might have missed these rumors the first time, several NFL teams are allegedly considering Harbaugh for potential coaching vacancies, most notably the Las Vegas Raiders. Other rumors involve the Chicago Bears (the most upsetting option for me personally, and probably for my king Justin Fields as well), the New York Giants, and the Miami Dolphins, though the Raiders do seem to be the most realistic possibility of the four.

According to Nick Baumgardner at The Athletic, Michigan has offered Harbaugh a competitive new package to stay in Ann Arbor.

But reports coming out of Las Vegas this week also speculate that Harbaugh is the No. 1 choice for Mark Davis and the Raiders, which gives some of the NFL rumors a little more weight than we initially thought. His emotional ties to Ann Arbor are strong and might tip the scales in Michigan’s favor, but he began his NFL coaching career as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders and also spent the first seven seasons of his professional career playing for the Chicago Bears, so don’t discount these ties either.

And Buckeye fans, this is potentially tragic for us.

While that might be a bold claim to make coming off Harbaugh’s strongest season at Michigan to date and the Buckeyes’ first loss to Michigan in nearly a decade, it is absolutely better for the Buckeyes if Harbaugh stays with the Wolverines.

Listen, Jim Harbaugh isn’t incompetent — he certainly has the knowledge of the game and the recruiting abilities to put together dominant teams like he did this season. But he doesn’t do so with any consistency. Even a great season like Michigan had this past year feels more like a fluke than an actual threat to Buckeye dominance.

The thing I love about Harbaugh coaching at UM is that he respects the rivalry and talks a lot of shit, but only once in seven seasons has he actually been able to back up his loud-mouthed claims.

Michigan is always good enough that they seem to have a shot going into The Game, which is great for the rivalry. It keeps things interesting, and historically, it has worked in the Buckeyes’ favor. But until this year, Harbaugh’s Wolverines had no real follow-through.

I don’t think Harbaugh can pull off two consecutive victories against the Buckeyes, so while I’m not expecting an extreme drop-off in the Wolverines’ performance next season, I do think the Buckeyes will be back on top if Harbaugh remains in Ann Arbor.

We know what to expect with Harbaugh. What we don’t know is who they would bring in to replace him if he heads to the NFL. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

If I were you, Buckeye fans, I’d be crossing your fingers and toes and wishing on a star that Harbaugh likes the deal Michigan put forth so he stays in Ann Arbor and we can continue to beat up on the Wolverines for years to come.