Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh Won a National Championship. What’s Next?

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh Won a National Championship. What’s Next? article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

  • Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a National Championship on Monday night, but his future is still unknown.
  • While Harbaugh's potential departure for the NFL will lead the news cycle, there are also questions about how Michigan's national title will be viewed after its sigh-stealing scandal.
  • Read on for Brett McMurphy's full article on the future of Harbaugh and the Wolverines.

HOUSTON — They haven’t started making the “WWJD” bracelets in Ann Arbor yet — “What Will Jim Do?” — but it’s only a matter of time.

As far as the exact time when Jim Harbaugh will decide on his future, well, Harbaugh said all he knows is he hopes to have a future.

“I’ll gladly talk about the future next week and a future — I hope to have one, how about that?” Harbaugh said. “Yes, I hope to have one.”

Harbaugh will have a future in coaching after winning Monday night’s National Championship game. But where? Michigan or the NFL?

“He could do anything,” Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson said. “He could come back forever. He could probably just retire if he wanted to. Could be his last coaching game for all I know, or he can coach somewhere overseas or in another state.”

Overseas? That’s a new wrinkle. Breaking news: Jim Harbaugh named coach at London A&M.

“It's cherry pie, apple pie,” Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy said about Harbaugh’s options. “It's both great choices to make (between Michigan and the NFL). I feel like he's going to do whatever he can to make the best decision for him. He loves the school so much.”

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McCarthy said he could understand if Harbaugh returned to the NFL, where he coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14. Harbaugh reached one Super Bowl and two other times lost in the NFC title game, coming a win shy of three consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

“He's a competitor,” McCarthy said. “Having a National Championship year and (a shot at winning) a Super Bowl, I could see him trying to get that. Finish his career off in the sunset.”

While Harbaugh’s “will he stay, will he go” decision will dominate the news cycles and social media non-stop — if black smoke emerges from Harbaugh’s home, he’s headed to the NFL; if it’s gray smoke, it’s brisket — there's also uncertainty about how Michigan's national title will be viewed.

With the NCAA conducting an ongoing investigation into an alleged sign-stealing scandal, what are the possible penalties? Scholarship reductions? Vacated wins? Coaching suspensions? Double-secret probation? Michigan promising to never, ever do it again?

“For the most part, they just don't want to accept what's happening right now, pretty much, like how the season's been turning out,” Michigan defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said. “That's what we feel like. Time and time again, we proved everybody wrong time and time again, game after game after game after game. So, like we've been saying, we don't know how many more excuses everybody got, but I guess we'll see.

“When we hear everybody's like, 'cheating this, cheating that,' we're like, OK. I don't know. Nothing else we can do besides just keep doing our job and keep winning. Prove everybody wrong.”

michigan wolverines vs nebraska cornhuskers-odds-picks-predictions-college football-betting-saturday sept 30-jim harbaugh
Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Nobody knows what penalties await, but everyone has an opinion. If you’re a Michigan fan, there’s nothing to see here. If you’re not a Michigan fan, give the Wolverines program the Death Penalty, but only after having a public stoning.

“Look,” an Alabama official told me at the Rose Bowl last week, “Everyone — and I mean everyone — is stealing signs. Michigan was not the only school doing this.”

Added an industry source: “Kansas (basketball) cheats more than anyone, and they didn’t do anything to Kansas. The only pure thing in college athletics is Vanderbilt, and Vanderbilt sucks.”

That’s where college athletics is in 2024: if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying — or you’re Vanderbilt.

Michigan is no Vanderbilt. The Wolverines left Houston as national champions, but will it be considered a tainted title?

“I wouldn't say it concerns me,” Michigan cornerback Will Johnson said. “It's definitely something everybody likes to talk about.”

And talk about. And talk about. And talk about…

Sports betting is coming to the Tar Heel State! Stay up to date on the latest news about bet365 North Carolina.

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