Jim Harbaugh

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Michigan, Jim Harbaugh were working on contract extension before pandemic hit

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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday he was closing in on a contract extension before coping with the COVID-19 pandemic became a top priority for all involved in the discussions.

“There’s bigger fish to fry for our athletic director, or our administration, me as a coach,” Jim Harbaugh said during an interview on Zoom. “It hasn’t been on the top of the priority list. I would expect something, that there would be an announcement at some time.”

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has said more than once that he wants Harbaugh to lead the Wolverines until he chooses to retire from coaching.

Harbaugh has two years left on a deal that pays him about $7 million per year. He is 47-18 over five seasons in charge of college football’s winningest program. While Harbaugh has won nearly three-fourths of games overall, he is 0-5 against rival Ohio State and has lost four straight bowl games.

Manuel, who like Harbaugh is a former Michigan football player, has been happy enough with the results on and off the field to engage in talks to retain him beyond the 2021 season.

“It was kind of right there last February, where it was being discussed, and then the pandemic hit,” Harbaugh recalled.

During the 2019 season, Harbaugh sent an email to parents of players on his team, refuting a report saying representatives were working on his departure. Harbaugh was an NFL head coach in San Francisco. He returned in 2015 to the school where he was a star quarterback after going 44-19-1 with the 49ers and winning the 2012 NFC championship.

Jim Harbaugh: Football didn’t cause COVID-19, ‘no expert view… that sports is going to make that worse’

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I’m thinking Jim Harbaugh may have stepped in it a little bit.  Or tripped over his junk, if that’s your preferred nomenclature.

As recently as a couple of weeks ago, there was cautious optimism that, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the college football season would kick off as planned.  With some tweaks when it came to attendance and the like, of course.  Over the past several days, however, there has been a sharp uptick in positive cases of COVID-19 — especially in states like California, Florida and Texas — that has moved the needle dramatically toward pessimism when it comes to the 2020 college football season.  In fact, there’s a growing line of thinking that the 2020 season could very well be played in the spring of 2021.

And then there’s Jim Harbaugh.  On a Zoom call with the media Wednesday, the Michigan head coach was asked about moving forward with plans for the 2020 football season to be played in the fall.  As scheduled.  Here’s Harbaugh’s response, from Austin Meek of The Athletic:

COVID is part of our society. It wasn’t caused by football or caused by sports. There’s no expert view right now that I’m aware of that sports is going to make that worse.

First, I have no clue if Harbaugh views milk as a potential vaccine.  So don’t ask.

Secondly, it’s one thing for a coach who made $7.5 million in 2019 to take such a stance and be willing to put himself in harm’s way.  But it’s another matter entirely to potentially ask unpaid student-athletes to do the same.

Of course, as has been shown over the past few weeks, the head football coach won’t be the deciding factor if the season goes off as scheduled.

July 3, Kansas was the latest FBS program to pause voluntary workouts after 12 players tested positive for COVID-19.  Earlier in that same week, Arizona announced that it was pausing its phased return of student-athletes to campus.  Prior to that, eight individuals connected to the Boise State football program tested positive, forcing the school to temporarily scuttle workouts.  June 20, K-State announced that it is pausing all voluntary workouts as well.  The reason?  “[A] total of 14 student-athletes have tested positive for active COVID-19 following PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing of more than 130 student-athletes.” The weekend before that, Houston decided to put a halt to voluntary on-campus workouts after six symptomatic UH student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

Other programs have seen a high number of players test positive but continue workouts.  Among those are Clemson (37 players tested positive), LSU (30 players quarantined), Texas (13 confirmed positives for football players) and Texas Tech (23 positives for players/staffers).

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Mark Emmert suggesting six years ago that paying players would doom college sports

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on June 19, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Big Ten coaches on hot seat: Record revenues mean those big buyouts don’t mean quite as much
THE SYNOPSIS: Just two B1G programs will have different coaches in 2020.  Chris Ash was fired by Rutgers.  And Mark Dantoniostepped down” at Michigan State.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Lincoln Riley will (barely) make more than his starting QB in 2018
THE SYNOPSIS: The head coach made $4.8 million in guaranteed compensation. Kyler Murray, the ninth-overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft, was paid a $4.7 million signing bonus.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Tennessee lands eight commitments in one day
THE SYNOPSIS: The 2017-18 seasons produced a combined nine wins.  Vols fans can only hope this year’s recruiting rush produces better on-field results.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Jim Harbaugh effect helping to turn around ticket sales at Michigan
THE SYNOPSIS: In five seasons under Harbaugh, the Wolverines have finished third or fourth in The Big Ten East four times.  U-M is also 0-5 vs. rival Ohio State.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Mark Emmert once again suggests paying players would doom college sports
THE SYNOPSIS: Six years later, players are about to earn money off their own name, image and likeness.  With the begrudging approval of the NCAA.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Johnny Manziel’s angry tweet was fueled by a… parking ticket?
THE SYNOPSIS: What do we always say?  Johnny Football gonna Johnny Football, y’all.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Dr. Lou: Notre Dame should join Big Ten
THE SYNOPSIS: A decade later, many observers align with  Holtz’s opinion.  Except for those whose opinions matter most.  Ya know, the ones who reside in South Bend.

2009

THE HEADLINE: Jim Harbaugh Steers Around the NFL Question
THE SYNOPSIS: On Jan. 7, 2011, Harbaugh officially left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers.

Face-masked Jim Harbaugh joins Ann Arbor march protesting police brutality

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As you will see, even Ohio State fans are applauding Jim Harbaugh on this one.

Organized by former Michigan football player Mahmoud Issa, hundreds of individuals gathered in Ann Arbor Tuesday to peacefully protest against police brutality.  Among those individuals?  Jim Harbaugh, of course.  Joining him, mlive.com reported, were Ann Arbor Police Chief Michael Cox,  Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and Mayor Christopher Taylor.  And several unnamed U-M football players participated as well.

Jim Harbaugh even got a pat on the back from the most Buckeye-centric website on the planet.

Last week, the Michigan head football coach spoke out about the “horrendous… outrageous” killing of George Floyd, whose murder at the knee of a white police officer has sparked peaceful protests as well as riots and looting.

“Today I’ll tell you what. I’m really very upset about the George Floyd death,” Harbaugh said on the Rich Eisen Show. “That’s got me preoccupied today. Horrendous. I’m just watching right now and looking forward to there being an investigation and waiting for charges. That’s completely outrageous.”

Tuesday, Issa explained his reasoning for the march.

“We all know there’s unrest going on in the community,” he said. “Everyone wants to do something, but they just don’t know where to start. By starting this, it gave everyone an easy way to help out, make a difference and get the message out.”

College coaches speak out following death of George Floyd

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The despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable murder of George Floyd has touched myriad aspects of our society.  College football is no different.

Monday night, 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer took a knee on the man’s neck.  For several minutes.  Floyd was a black man.  The police officer is a white man.

“I can’t breathe, please, the knee in my neck. I can’t move … my neck … I’m through, I’m through.”

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired.  The white officer who murdered Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged in the black man’s death.  The 19-year veteran of the force is facing one count each of of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Wednesday, the University of Minnesota significantly distanced itself from the Minneapolis Police Department.  The MPD assisted the university for large events, including Minnesota football games.

In the days since, college football coaches have decried the fatal brutality.  On the Rich Eisen Show Thursday, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh spoke about the “horrendous… outrageous” murder (my words, not the coach’s) of George Floyd.

On Twitter in the ensuing days, Harbaugh’s colleagues at the collegiate level — including one ex-coach who is now an athletic director — have used their platform to decry the senseless murder of George Floyd.

Some of them, including Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin (HERE), Florida State’s Mike Norvell (HERE), Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery (HERE), Troy’s Chip Lindsey (HERE) and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor (HERE), retweeted the powerful words of Tony Dungy.

Others sent out their own messages.