The annual rumor of Jim Harbaugh back to the NFL hit its fourth consecutive year this month.
And for the fourth straight year, Harbaugh shot it all down.
Michigan football‘s head coach, speaking with ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday, emphatically denied any speculation he’s trying to leave U-m for the NFL. He took it one step further, claiming anyone who says he is thinking about leaving is doing so with a recruiting agenda in mind.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh told Schefter. “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.”
Harbaugh’s name has been floated around the Internet in a speculative manner for weeks now, most recently by Fox analyst and former Ohio State receiver Cris Carter.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel called those claims baseless earlier this week.
This weekend, Harbaugh gave his input to Schefter. “I can’t be any more clear about his – it’s not true,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Harbaugh has dealt with this type of speculation almost from the day he took over at Michigan in late 2014, coming to Ann Arbor after four years with the San Francisco 49ers.
He has routinely declared any speculation about his possible return to the NFL as nothing more than an attempt by “our enemies” to hurt Michigan’s recruiting.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, lost 5-star safety Daxton Hill to Alabama on Saturday night. Hill did not give an explanation as to why he flipped from U-M to Alabama, so it’s not clear if the NFL speculation is related.
Either way, Harbaugh felt it necessary to speak on this subject again.
More on recruiting: Michigan in good spot; Ohio State bugaboo persists
The early signing period begins Dec. 19.
Harbaugh is finishing the fourth year of his initial seven-year contract at Michigan. With additional compensation from a life insurance policy, he makes at least $7 million per year as the Wolverines’ head coach.
He is now 38-13 overall, 26-9 in Big Ten play and the Wolverines will play in a New Year’s Six Bowl (the Peach Bowl) for the second time in three years on Dec. 29 against Florida in Atlanta.
“That’s like warmed up oatmeal,” Harbaugh said last December about the constant NFL speculation. “(I can compare) it to something else. When it’s rehashed or warmed up, it’s not good anymore. Oatmeal. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.
“I’m not a big fan of warmed up oatmeal.”
This season, became the program’s first coach since Fielding H. Yost to record double digit wins in three of his first four years. However, he still hasn’t won a Big Ten championship and remains 0-4 against rival Ohio State.
The Wolverines (10-2) and Gators (9-3) kickoff at noon on Dec. 29 (ESPN).
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaumgardner.