On Friday afternoon, Jim Harbaugh reportedly signed a five-year, $20 million contract extension with Michigan. The new deal was significantly less than Harbaugh’s first contract with the program that saw him make about $8 million per year.
Former Wolverines star wide receiver and current ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard reacted to the news on Saturday. Howard played at Michigan from 1989-91, winning the Heisman Trophy in his final year.
The legendary UM graduate claimed the mid-December firing of defensive coordinator Don Brown is the reason Harbaugh’s career is still afloat.
“I said near the end of the season that if they want to retain coach Harbaugh, the move would be to fire the defensive coordinator, Don Brown,” Howard said on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “Because the defense has gotten progressively worse, and I said on GameDay that he’s consistently trying to play a scheme that he does not have the personnel to do it.
“So once I saw that peg fall, meaning Don Brown was fired, then I knew there was a strong chance that Jim Harbaugh would be retained at Michigan. And they gave him a chance to weigh the decisions, and see if there was an NFL interest.”
2020 was a rough year for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines — notching the first losing season of the coach’s Michigan tenure (2-4).
Before this year, Harbaugh’s teams often had solid seasons that ended with a postseason loss. In five bowl game appearances, the former Michigan QB has a disappointing 1-4 record.
Because of his inability to produce results in big games, Harbaugh’s new contract is highly incentive based. Howard analyzed this in his reaction as well.
“So they came back with, like you said, an incentive-laced contract because coach Harbaugh didn’t underperformed his previous contract. So they gave him an incentive-based contract. Warde Manuel, the athletic director, agreed with it. Coach Harbaugh agreed with it. And that’s where we are today.” Howard said.
Let’s see if Jim Harbaugh can make his money’s worth in 2021.
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