ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jim Harbaugh insisted he is staying at Michigan.
Responding to speculation he’s returning to the NFL, the former San Francisco 49ers coach told ESPN he is not going anywhere.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda. But I’m on record right here, right now: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan. We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”
Former Ohio State star receiver and Fox Sports analyst Cris Carter has said Harbaugh is a potential candidate to lead the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns.
After Harbaugh and the eighth-ranked Wolverines were celebrated Sunday at a banquet, he didn’t want to discuss the topic much at a previously scheduled news conference to promote the team’s appearance in the Peach Bowl.
Why did he address it with ESPN?
“To make a statement of it, to go on record and not be asked anymore after that by people who like to yap and ask questions,” Harbaugh told reporters.
Michigan won 10 games this season for the third time under Harbaugh but dropped to 0-4 against the rival Buckeyes and fell out of the Big Ten and national championship races. The Wolverines face No. 10 Florida on Dec. 29 in the Peach Bowl.
Harbaugh, who is 38-13 at Michigan, is in the fourth year of a seven-year contract with a compensation package that gives him more than $7 million per year. He returned nearly four years ago to the school where he was a star quarterback after going 44-19-1 with the 49ers, winning the 2012 NFC championship.
“I’m so happy that he’s our coach,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. “And I look forward to him coaching, as I said before, until he retires from Michigan and ends his career here.”
Manuel said it is a credit to Harbaugh that his name is often mentioned to fill openings in the NFL.
“Jim is one of the greatest coaches — college or pro,” Manuel said.
Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson said he hasn’t thought about whether he will stay in school or pro, adding he plans to talk about his future with Harbaugh and his family.