Captain Comeback?: Latest Jim Harbaugh to Michigan Rumors

In the past two weeks, the Jim Harbaugh to Michigan train has hit overdrive. He’s gone from a name that just about every national media member called a “pipe dream” to several insiders giving it a 50/50 chance. And now it looks like that percentage is increasing with each and every “source” tweet.

December 21st

Things are looking very merry this time of year in terms of Harbaugh returning home to Michigan and taking over his alma mater’s program. From what the top insiders are reporting, it would be a shock if JH goes elsewhere.

The Wolverine’s Chris Balas’ touched on how good things are looking for Michigan twice yesterday, including information on how his family (parents included) is fully on board and willing to move to Ann Arbor ($).

Balas also explained why the Michigan insiders are more “in the know” than the national media ($):

“Why were the NFL guys behind the eight ball with their information? Because the list of people “in the know” was extremely small, and it didn’t include guys like his agent, David Dunn. The reality – Dunn has had a very limited role in Harbaugh’s career”

He also has heard from inside sources that Michigan may already be preparing for his arrival ($), is expecting an announcement on the 29th and added:

“Let’s just say it would stun a lot of people on the U-M end if this didn’t happen.”

Balas isn\’t the only one prepping UofM fans for the best present they could have hoped for as Go Blue Wolverines’ Tom Beaver is on the “very sunny side of 50/50” ($). And then this morning, he said almost the exact same thing as Balas:

“My solidest source tells me that ‘the U-M camp’ would absolutely be surprised (at this point) if the Harbaugh deal didn’t happen.”

When Beaver and Balas are on board, things are looking very VERY good.

B&B aren’t the only guys to be on the Harbaugh to Michigan bandwagon:

If ya think Jim Harbaugh turns down Michigan you\’re nutzzz

— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) December 20, 2014

Santa Mooch getting @richeisen in full Harbaugh mode: https://t.co/iQtZ0zGoNy

— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) December 21, 2014

But with all the positive news, there are still some out there that think Harbaugh’s staying in the NFL, including Bleacher Report’s head SEC writer (and my buddy and softball teammate; that’s the truth) Barrett Sallee: 

.@BarrettSallee: \”The chances of @JimHarbaugh49 going to Michigan are less than %1.\” #CFBHangover 844-277-2346! — B/R Radio (@br_radio) December 21, 2014

Sallee wasn’t the only non-insider keeping the Michigan momentum down. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer let it be known that another former team of Harbaugh’s would be a threat: 

Per @JayGlazer, \”keep an eye on the Bears\” for Jim Harbaugh. — Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 21, 2014

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora showed up a little late to the party, in terms of reporting news that Michigan insiders have been reporting for weeks. The news he’s reporting, Jim Harbaugh isn’t the only NFL coach on Michigan’s radar:

“While the University of Michigan’s interest in Jim Harbaugh has sprung a cottage industry, and garnered daily attention, it remains far more likely Harbaugh remains in the NFL in 2015 according to numerous sources close to the coach, while the school is exploring several NFL options, knowing that Harbaugh may well reject their overtures again.”

So, La Canfora is still hearing Jim is staying in the pros and has some names that Hackett is looking at if he doesn’t return to Ann Arbor:

“Michigan has maintained a desire to land Harbaugh\’s brother, John, as well, sources said, but the Ravens coach has made it clear he has no interest in leaving Baltimore. Other NFL coaches on the school’s radar include New Orleans’ Sean Payton, Buffalo’s Doug Marrone and Dallas’ Jason Garrett”

The news of John and Payton have been reported since the start of December, if not earlier. While Marrone was more of a rumor going around, this is the first time Garrett’s name has been rumored.

With this new report, JLC was obviously about to get some flack from the Michigan insiders and fan base:

At this point you have to ask who knows more about Michigan: NFL reporters or those who have broken every big Michigan story last 10 years?

— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 21, 2014

While the Michigan insiders are hearing very positive news, there are plenty of other rumors out there that keeps the good vibes rolling. Including several different rumors of Mrs. Harbaugh house hunting in Ann Arbor. 

GBW\’s Tom Beaver is also hearing that the 6 year deal is inaccurate. Says it’s likely 7-8 ($)

After the first batch of NFL games finished, there was some decently big news about one of the biggest competitors for Michigan: 

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announces head coach Joe Philbin will return in 2015. http://t.co/oBpo6i0ucg pic.twitter.com/jvBcePz04Z — NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 21, 2014

Some believe that Ross is keeping Philbin because he knows Harbaugh is headed to Michigan. I don’t exactly believe that but it’s fun to think about.

Another competitor for Harbaugh looks to be out of the running as well, as long as money is a main factor:

Meanwhile, this report says Bears aren\’t likely willing to pay the big $$ it\’ll take to get Jim Harbaugh http://t.co/tw1unvAoxt

— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 21, 2014

The Bears and Dolphins were legit competitors for Michigan but if they’re out of it, that leaves only a couple of realistic options (Raiders, Jets or Falcons). 

As night fall hit, the news and rumors were still hot. The Wolverine’s Chris Balas had a lot of information in his latest update, including Harbaugh’s birthday on Tuesday being a “day to watch”, the Michigan players taking part in a conference call with Hackett, what the Dolphins keeping Philbin may mean, and why December 29th is the earliest day he expects anything to happen ($)

The HUGE Show’s Bill Simonson‘s sources also let him that Michigan is “waiting on an answer from Harbaugh” and that Hackett will meet with JH on his Tuesday. If he turns them down, he says “Michigan has a short list and will hire a big name coach”. Simonson mentioned Bob Stoops, Sean Payton and Jim Mora Jr. 

Keeping with the radio personalities, WDVE Pittsburgh’s Gregg Henson is reporting that things are looking very good and that former teammates of JH (two who are very close to him) are on board with saying it’s going to happen. He also warned the Wolverine fan base that things could go wrong but that’s doubtful: 

“Look, this could still go wrong at the last minute, but I don’t think it will, there is too much evidence both publicly and off the record that indicates Jim Harbaugh is ready to shock the NFL world and return to college.”

Henson also said not to expect anything to be done until next week. 

Henson mentioned former UofM players being on board and it’s obviously more than just JH’s former teammates as former Heisman winner Charles Woodson is doing his part to direct JH back to Ann Arbor: 

Here’s something: a M-themed fruit basket for JH arrived at Dave’s office late yesterday… courtesy of the one and only Charles Woodson

— Those Who Stay (@ThoseWhoStay7) December 21, 2014 

One of the most popular/known sources inside the program is Michigan professor and football historian John U. Bacon and he is also hearing that next week is when everything should go down:

@MGOBLUE07 I think it will be Monday earliest, and Wednesday latest. I believe if JH hasn\’t announced by then, things get murky quickly. — John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 21, 2014

As for some not very shocking but big news, Fox Sports\’ Jay Glazer is reporting that the 49ers will part ways with Harbaugh shortly after the season.

Sounds like SF has decided not to trade Harbaugh, just fire him. Interesting development. #JimHarbaugh #GoBlue

— Chris Balas (@Balas_Wolverine) December 22, 2014

With Harbaugh likely to block any trade, San Francisco’s only decision is to fire him. Most wish it would happen sooner to speed up Michigan’s chances but it turns out he’ll get one more NFL game before making a decision. 

100 National talk show host and GBW forum contributor Steve Deace is starting to hear some excitement from his contacts regarding JH ($). However, he is not sure if something is about to happen or they\’re just hearing the positive rumors. 

To wrap up the weekend, Go Blue Wolverine’s Sam Webb put together a coaching search chat and had some big time news ($). He doesn’t believe it’s a “done deal” but he thinks “the Harbaugh’s have given strong VERBAL indication of his intent to return to Ann Arbor”. Webb also doesn’t believe anything will happen until after the NFL season. 

MGoBlog\’s Brian Cook has been another top notch insider in this entire process and he has heard some potential big news, including: 

  • “The wife of a current 49ers assistant coach stating that Michigan fans are going to be “real happy about something as soon as the season’s over.”
  • John Elway, who tried to hire Harbaugh in 2011, telling some business associates that Harbaugh to Michigan is “pretty much” a done deal.
  • More player grapevine stuff indicating that Harbaugh will announce for Michigan as soon as the 49ers season is over.”

Cook has been on top of this story from the get-go. 

So, just like normal, Michigan insiders are very confident while the national media is playing catch up while also keeping the belief that a successful NFL coach would never leave the league. So, stay patient for the next 8-9 days and have a happy holiday season!

December 20th

Yesterday was a big day in terms of rumors. The national media guys finally started hearing that Harbaugh could in fact take the Michigan job.

This morning kicked off with Go Blue Wolverine’s Tom Beaver’s report that went over some possibly huge news ($). His sources have let him know the contract is either done or will be done very soon while some believe JH may sign it right away (and announce it immediately) while others believe he’ll wait until after the season.

The rumor of a “done deal” was thrown out there from ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley yesterday but has been refuted by both GBW’s Sam Webb, The Wolverine’s Chris Balas and 247Sports’ Steve Lorenz.

I added what Webb said last night under December 19th (at the bottom).

As for Balas ($):

“No, Harbaugh has not made a decision on his future. There’s an offer on the table, one he is seriously considering, but the former Michigan quarterback won’t accept another job until the season is over.”

And Lorenz ($):

“We have heard what others have reported and that we’ve reported. This will go until after the NFL season, but before the New Year’s. Expect a decision quickly after San Francisco’s last game.”

It was hard to believe Harbaugh actually signed anything more than a MOU (Memo of Understanding), which is not a guaranteed contact:

As others have said, possible Wiley may have been referring to a Memo of Understanding, not a binding signed contract. — Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) December 19, 2014

On the other end, Lorenz touched on the rumors of current players knowing who their new head coach will be ($). If that rumor is true, Lorenz has heard otherwise and that would likely mean JH has at least verbally agreed to a contact. I doubt Hackett would let players know anything until it’s a guarantee.

Look who\’s slowly starting to post more pro-Harbaugh to Michigan things:

How much Michigan means to Jim Harbaugh: http://t.co/5U4fmvOv3X — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2014

As for other rumors out there on Harbaugh heading back to Michigan, the main rumors have surrounded who JH would bring with him to Ann Arbor to join his coaching staff.

Other names have been thrown out there, including Harbaugh\’s son, Jay Harbaugh, former Wolverine RB Tyrone Wheatley, former Wolverine WR Erik Campbell, former Michigan lineman and coach Andy Moeller, and Buffalo Bills offensive quality control coach Kurt Anderson, as well as several others.

Later in the day, NFL insider Ian Rapaport had some big information on when a final decision could be made:

#49ers situation will not be resolved until Jim Harbaugh meets with #49ers brass after the season after meetings w players. Next Mon or Tues — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 20, 2014 

People close to Jim Harbaugh say he’s conflicted about what to choose — NFL or Michigan. Even he’s surprised how hard U-M is tugging at him. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 20, 2014

How it’ll play out: Harbaugh will meet with #49ers brass & he’ll tell them what he wants to do: Explore U-M or for them to work out a trade — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 20, 2014

This is similar to what I\’ve heard from other insiders. The decision won\’t come until after the season. So stay patient and stay tuned.

December 19th

To kick off the day, Michigan professor and football historian John U. Bacon\’s sources let him know that Bruce Feldman\’s report on the reported 6 year $48 million offer is incorrect:

@BruceFeldmanCFB Excellent sources have confirmed that Bruce\’s reporting is accurate, and Harbaugh\’s offer is not as high as advertised. — John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 19, 2014

Now, this doesn\’t mean that an offer doesn\’t exist, but the numbers could be a little different. Basically, it\’s not a big deal. It\’s known that money will not be an issue if Jim were to say he wants a bigger/smaller contract.

It wouldn\’t be normal if there wasn\’t an NFL guy saying Harbaugh won\’t go back to Michigan. And the first one on Friday was Bleacher Report\’s Mike Freeman. He put together an article on why Harbaugh\’s ego will keep him in the NFL.

And then there was ESPN\’s Colin Cowherd.

He decided to use his radio show to clown the Michigan fan base and insiders. He even went far enough to put his reputation on the line and said Harbaugh would end up in Oakland or with another NFL franchise, instead of Michigan.

That\’s when the fun started.

The same guy who broke the news on the offer on the table, CBS5 Arizona\’s Joe Pequeno was back with a bit of a bombshell:

A source close to the Michigan program told me the chances of 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh taking the Michigan job is 70/30. #jimharbaugh — Joe Pequeno (@JoePequenoCBS5) December 19, 2014

Now, Joe Pequeno received full credit for \”breaking\” the news on the offer earlier in the week, but he\’s not a big enough name to get the national media guys to believe for a second that Harbaugh is truly considering the Michigan job.

And then 3pm hit and ESPN\’s top football insider, Michigan alum Adam Schefter, reported that his sources let him know that Harbaugh\’s family and friends are on board and are encouraging Jim to take the job:

49ers HC Jim Harbaugh’s family and friends have been encouraging him to take the Michigan HC job, but he is torn… http://t.co/xg4berKWXM — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 19, 2014

In the report, Schefter basically said just about everything that the Michigan insiders have been saying for awhile now, including the news that his family (especially his father Jack) is on board, the ball is in his court, and a decision should come soon after the end of the season (likely December 30th, like the Michigan insiders have said several times).

A lot of Schefter\’s report vibes with what we\’ve reported for a while. — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 19, 2014

Snap, those Michigan insiders who supposedly didn\’t know anything all this time seem to be growing smarter by the day. — Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 19, 2014

What I take from it is that Harbaugh is either:

A) In a tough spot since he wants to win a Super Bowl but also wants to return to Michigan. But if he goes back to Michigan, he may not want to break the hearts of the fan base if he leaves after a couple years for another NFL opportunity.

OR

B) His agent is leaking even more information out and saying JH is \”torn\” between the two jobs to use this as leverage against…..Michigan (didn\’t see that coming, huh?). He could be using this to get more freedom in his contract or around the program. Like Gregg Henson tweeted:

@frinighttitans @JeffMossDSR it may just be negotiating on admissions. He\’s coming. — Gregg Henson (@GreggHenson) December 19, 2014

So, the belief is real and even the NFL guys seem to see a real possibility here.  And then DetroitSportsRag.com\’s Jeff Moss received some new information from his sources:

\”Jim Harbaugh called one of his former teammates. The conversation did not start well as my source states the San Fran head coach said, “Would you hate me if I didn’t come?”

Moss also learned that Harbaugh\’s agent, Dave Dunn, was the one to leak the offer to the media (even though that was leaked to Michigan insiders weeks ago). He also added the Atlanta Falcons as a legit contender for JH, if he stays in the NFL, and that Jack Harbaugh (Jim\’s father) is one of the main people talking his son into returning to Michigan.

If you were looking for another national media/NFL guy to hear some positive news on Harbaugh to Michigan, ESPN\’s Marcus Wiley is here for you:

Jim Harbaugh will be the Head Coach of Michigan, according to 2 of my sources. Announcement coming after the season #GettingMyAdamSchefterOn — Marcellus Wiley (@marcelluswiley) December 19, 2014

Wiley then went on the Dan LeBatard Show to explain his tweet and the sources that the information came from:

Here\’s everything @marcelluswiley said about the two sources who told him Harbaugh is coming to Michigan: pic.twitter.com/ky3y8EC9eo — Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) December 19, 2014

It looks like you can also add ESPN\’s Paul Finebaum to the list of national media members hearing Harbaugh to Michigan is happening. Go Blue Wolverine\’s Sam Webb straightened up all the rumors flying around out there about Harbaugh being a \”done deal\”:

\”In recent days confidence among many that once played at the Big House has risen to the point that some are calling Harbaugh to Michigan “a done deal.” They’re saying there is little to no chance that he will remain in the NFL. The reason? A contingent of former players were reportedly given word from the Harbaugh camp that the beloved signal caller is coming home.\”

Webb also cautions to wait until a deal is signed to truly believe this is a done deal. But his meter is up to 65/35. It looks like this roller coaster known as the Harbaugh Recruitment will reach it\’s stop between December 29th and January 1st. So, stay tuned.

December 18th

It was another day of battle between the national media and the local insiders. This time around the argument was whether or not Harbaugh was using the Michigan offer as leverage.

Pro Football Talk\’s Mike Florio kicked it off by reporting that Harbaugh is leveraging this offer and leveraged his offer in 2011 to get more money from the 49ers:

\”In 2011, Harbaugh rejected an Ann Arbor offer that would have paid him $5.2 million annually.  Instead, he took $5 million per year from the 49ers, who originally hoped to get Harbaugh for $4 million to $4.5 million per year.  Without the Michigan offer, it would have been difficult for Harbaugh to shake $5 million per year from the Niners.\”

Florio also said that it would be a \”major surprise\” if Harbaugh took the Michigan job. Besides the wanting to stay in the NFL, Florio said Jim wants to stay in California and named Stanford, Cal, USC and UCLA as more likely destinations.

Quick side note: The California reasoning has been thrown out there many times before. However, when Jim was asked where his favorite place to live was and he, surprising to Florio, said \”Ann Arbor, Michigan\” (skip to the 2:30 mark):

But back to the \”leverage\” rumor from Florio. He wasn\’t alone in this belief. ESPN\’s Adam Schefter was on Mike & Mike and said:

\”Let me just say this, this is the time of the year where often times agents do a great job creating leverage\”

And then Yahoo Sport\’s Charles Robinson: 

Harbaugh offer getting out is already a red flag for Michigan. That\’s usually an NFL agent setting the table to leverage other negotiations. — Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) December 18, 2014

Several other national media members believe this to be true as well. But obviously the guys closest to the program believe Harbaugh, 1. would never do that to Michigan, and 2. doesn\’t need any leverage:

The leverage Michigan gives Harbaugh is the same it\’s been since day one, and it has nothing to do with driving up his NFL salary — Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 18, 2014

The Harbaugh is using UM for leverage narrative is crap. He doesn’t need a college to drive his price up, his W/L record at both levels does — Joshua S. Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) December 16, 2014

Jim Harbaugh is in top 5 all-time NFL win %. If you\’re a national sports guy saying he\’s using Michigan for leverage, you are a total moron. — Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 19, 2014

Maize N Brew\’s Drew Hallett is another Michigan writer that doubts Harbaugh\’s camp is using it as leverage, mainly because they weren\’t the ones who leaked the rumor. That may have been Michigan:

\”But there are two benefits for Michigan to have these details out in the open. First, this may put pressure on Harbaugh to give Michigan an answer behind the scenes before December 28th, the last day of the NFL season and around when many expect Harbaugh to make his decision. Therefore, if Harbaugh were to say no to Michigan, it would not seem like he strung along his alma mater and left them in the cold. And, second, this demonstrates to the Michigan faithful that interim athletic director Jim Hackett and Michigan did everything they possibly could to bring Harbaugh home.\”

I agree with Drew here. I believe Hackett wanted that information out there to put some pressure on JH and to show the fan base he did everything he could to land the #1 target.

Most national guys believe Harbaugh\’s staying in the NFL but not many have such a strong opinion on which team he should \”save\” as much as NFL.com\’s Adam Schein:

\”Jim Harbaugh was born to save the Raiders and bring them back to glory.\”

This received a lot of laughter among the Wolverine fans since just about everyone who knows Harbaugh\’s past knows if there were a football team he was \”born to save\”, it would be Michigan.

While most local insiders are over 50/50 in terms of Michigan\’s chances, 247Sports\’ Clint Brewster is right on the fence thanks to hearing complete opposite stories from his sources ($). One source was telling him \”it\’s a total ploy\” while another is telling him it\’s \”basically a done deal\”. It looks like he may be one of the only people in touch with sources for both the local and national guys.

The Wolverine\’s Chris Balas broke down why Michigan fans should be optimistic, which included Harbaugh reaching out to Michigan people, the difference between California and Michigan\’s tax code/cost of living, and when a possible deal could happen ($).

Keeping the good vibes rolling, Go Blue Wolverine\’s Tom Beaver\’s sources have let him know that Michigan\’s chances are looking as good as possible \”without being completely written-and-signed\” ($).

Michigan alum and NFL Network\’s Rich Eisen had former All-American Wolverine offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson on his show and asked him about Michigan\’s chances with Harbaugh:

With the good, comes the bad. And that came from Fox Sports\’ Bruce Feldman reported that the rumored offer on the table \”are not accurate\”:

As I said on @FoxSports1 today, I was told by sources the reports on the $8M per offer by #Michigan to Jim Harbaugh are not accurate. — Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 18, 2014

Bruce Feldman says reported offer to Harbaugh \”was not accurate\” https://t.co/r32zGFePNU — FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 18, 2014

And that new information was quickly shot down by the local insiders who have been reporting similar numbers for awhile now:

The next time Bruce Feldman is right about the Michigan coaching search will be the first time. — Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 19, 2014

To all asking about Bruce Feldman. Michigan has made an offer. @SamWebb77 has confirmed a $49 million offer. Still no confirmation on yrs. — The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) December 18, 2014

The national guys continue to go back and forth with this story while the Michigan insiders have been sticking to the same stories from day one. We\’ll see who\’s right. If you\’re looking for some positive/optimistic news, GBW\’s Sam Webb hosted The Huge Show and said he was going to \”move his meter some\”:

A @SamWebb77 request: 2 weeks ago I was 40-60 Harbaugh to Michigan. For the last week it\’s been 60-40. Sources want me to move to 90-10! — The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) December 18, 2014

One of the newest (possibly) legit sources @ThoseWhoStay7, who says he has a connection with Harbaugh\’s agent, tweeted out what Harbaugh did right after his press conference:

(1/2) JH met with agent after press conference at about 3:30 PT for about 25 minutes to discuss his future. — Those Who Stay (@ThoseWhoStay7) December 19, 2014

(2/2) pic.twitter.com/brqQ9u2BFB — Those Who Stay (@ThoseWhoStay7) December 19, 2014

As for some wildly optimistic rumors, that comes from ChatSports\’s Mack Ferguson, who is reporting that Harbaugh will accept the Michigan offer. However, that was quickly shot down by WDVE Pittsburgh\’s Gregg Henson.

@MichiganNation2 It\’s chat sports. Nothing here. — Gregg Henson (@GreggHenson) December 19, 2014

So, while rumors are running wild, make sure to always take that daily/hourly dose of salt. And also, enjoy this awesome Harbaugh/McConaughey video from Maize & Blue Nation:

December 17th

Today, the national media finally caught up to the local insiders on the Wolverine\’s chances with Harbaugh and the offer that was on the table:

A friend close to the Michigan program told me Michigan is offering Jim Harbaugh 49 million for six years to be the team\’s new coach. — Joe Pequeno (@JoePequenoCBS5) December 17, 2014

That was earlier in the day and was a very similar number that had been thrown out there by Sam Webb, Gregg Henson, Jeff Moss and several others. While Joe Pequeno is a decent source for sporting news, the NFL guys were the ones everyone was waiting on to believe it or not. And with them on board, Twitter turned into a battle ground:

Sources: #Michigan has made another run at Jim Harbaugh after he initially rebuffed the school. U-M has made an offer of 6 years, $48M. Wow. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 17, 2014

Harbaugh had previously indicated he wouldn\’t give the Michigan gig serious consideration but a source said that\’s changed very recently. — Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 17, 2014

Reports from @JoePequenoCBS5 and @rapsheet about Michigan offer to Jim Harbaugh. Here\’s what I know: Multiple… http://t.co/btiGzVTLi5 — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 17, 2014

NFL source close to Harbaugh: \”The NFL is the safe bet. But he\’s changed his mind completely towards college.\” — mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) December 17, 2014

Schefter also put together an article on ESPN.com about how Harbaugh has the largest football coaching offer on his table and is now \”considering\” Michigan:

\”The annual average pay of $8.17 million would make Harbaugh the highest-paid college football coach, surpassing Alabama\’s Nick Saban by more than $1.21 million. Another person close to the process said that while it was possible Harbaugh could wind up at Michigan, \”it was not likely.\”

This brought out the responses from the Michigan insiders who have been reporting since the beginning that Harbaugh was considering the job and that he never told Michigan \”no\”:

@RapSheet @bobwojnowski Michigan was never \”rebuffed.\” — Chris Balas (@Balas_Wolverine) December 17, 2014

Let\’s be clear: Jim Harbaugh never said \’no\’ to U-M and was in play all along, still is. Any spin you\’re getting now is from the NFL side. — Chris Balas (@Balas_Wolverine) December 17, 2014

Harbaugh didn\’t rebuff Michigan. Not true at all — Gregg Henson (@GreggHenson) December 17, 2014

Whether JH goes comes Michigan or not the NFL reporters are already wrong. They said he\’d NEVER CONSIDER it. He\’s been doing that all along. — The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) December 17, 2014

Please, please, please ignore anything you read from the National NFL writers. They know nothing. Been wrong EVERY step of the way. — Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) December 17, 2014

With the national guys finally reporting that Harbaugh\’s interested, everyone started piling on them for backtracking on their previous reports of Jim turning down the Wolverines:

At first media was Michigan can\’t get Harbaugh. Now media be like Michigan can\’t pay him that much. The hate flows strong in these ones. — Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 17, 2014

I think even Charles Woodson would be impressed by the NFL reporter backpedaling right now. This got fun again. — Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) December 17, 2014

Either Harbaugh JUST OPENED HIS MIND TO POSSIBILITIES…or the NFL sources knew way less than they thought. — Tyler Duffy (@tyduffy) December 17, 2014

This didn\’t stop the NFL guys from still believing Harbaugh would remain in the pros and is likely using this \”leaked\” offer as leverage:

If Harbaugh really wanted the UM job would he leak this offer? — Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) December 17, 2014

I don\’t think Mark Davis went into this thinking he was going to land Jim Harbaugh at a discount. But still could get sticker shock. — Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 18, 2014

This is what Harbaugh\’s camp believes: He can set a new bar for coaches, who have been largely under paid (vs. owner earnings). — Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 18, 2014

I can also say this: some of the coaches on 49ers staff believe Harbaugh will never leave NFL. They believe Michigan talk is bullsh–. — mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) December 17, 2014

While the two sides battled via Twitter, Go Blue Wolverines\’ Sam Webb was told by his sources that Harbaugh wasn\’t expected to give a decision until the end of the season ($). He also touched on the possibility that Michigan is using this to \”speed things up\”.

247Sports\’ Steve Lorenz thinks that may be Michigan\’s idea as well ($):

\”It wouldn\’t surprise me at all if this pushed up a potential decision date, regardless of what the outcome may be.\”

Yahoo\’s Eric Adelson also touched on how the Huge bid should boost confidence at Michigan. While the \”leaked\” offer may have been a tactic, The Wolverine\’s Chris Balas is hearing that it may not change the outcome ($):

\”We believe Harbaugh is leaning toward taking the Michigan job at this point, and barring a change of heart will accept the offer. Until he signs on the dotted line, however, it\’s not a done deal.\”

Balas wasn\’t the only Michigan insider that was feeling confident. Former All-American tackle Steve Hutchinson was back:

After the UM coaching search is over, take note of all of the idiot \”experts\” who got it wrong. You\’ll find it is a common theme with them. — Steve Hutchinson (@poisonpill76) December 17, 2014

Hutch wasn\’t the only alum chiming in on the big news:

Jimmy, come home!!!! #BlueKnowIt — Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 18, 2014

As for other names connected to ESPN, Grantland\’s Andrew Sharp put together a great piece to Jim Harbaugh about why he should just go to Michigan.

While the KoolAid was flowing, there were a couple rumors out there of potential assistant coaches that would join Harbaugh\’s staff, including Steve Lorenz mentioning a possible \”ace recruiter\” Michigan is in contact with ($) and Scout\’s Allen Trieu brought up a former Wolverine and current Buffalo Bills offensive quality control coach ($).

December 16th

While today was a crazy day worth of rumors on the Harbaugh front, today was not as exciting. The day started right after midnight when 247Sports\’ Steve Lorenz was there to back up the previous day\’s rumors of the possibility of Harbaugh increasing ($):

\”I can confirm that there are a pair of important Michigan-related figures that believe the chances with Harbaugh are currently very good.\”

He also hit on the \”getting the band back together\” text message and why he\’s \”willing to bump up the optimism meter\”. Maybe the biggest news/story of the day was the name of a source inside the program being leaked.

It all started when DetroitSportsRag.net\’s Jeff Moss\’s sources told him that Michigan football play-by-play analyst and former Wolverine offensive lineman Jim Brandstatter is the source inside the program:

\”Well, my sources have informed me that Michigan radio voice Jim Brandstatter has been telling his media friends that he expects Harbaugh to take the U of M job and it is just a question of the timing of the San Francisco buyout now.\”

This is when the fun began. First Brandstatter tweeted:

Just to be clear, I am NOT anyone\’s source in M coach search, & I am NOT telling anyone Harbaugh is the guy. Rumors to contrary are false. — Jim Brandstatter (@brandymancan) December 16, 2014

And then Moss responds:

Hey. Here is my official response to @brandymancan: pic.twitter.com/8KmOP4NgN8 — Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) December 16, 2014

Other people have backed up Moss\’ claim so there may be something to it. Whether or not it is true, this is the first name to come out as a possible source inside the program.

While it is not known for sure if Brandstatter is for sure an inside source, one guy who is extremely close to the program is University of Michigan professor and Wolverine football historian John Bacon. And it looks like he\’s hearing that the odds are increasing as well:

Yes, I\’m hearing a lot of chatter, too – even here in Hawaii – from knowledgeable insiders, indicating odds of Harbaugh to UM going up. — John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 16, 2014

Another insider, The Wolverine\’s Chris Balas, is very close to the situation and is also hearing very positive things ($):

\”We said yesterday huge strides had been made, and the optimism in the Michigan camp seems to be as high as ever that Harbaugh will say yes to U-M\’s offer.\”

Add National radio\’s Steve Deace to the list of people hearing big news regarding Harbaugh:

In next two weeks, Michigan will make the priciest personnel investment in college football history when it completes coaching transition. — Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 16, 2014

With the good news comes the bad and that came from Mercury News sports columnist Tim Kawakami, the new least favorite reporter of the Michigan fan base:

Said it before, will keep saying it: Harbaugh wants to stay in the NFL. RT @Carr_Crazy @49ers Are these Jim to Michigan rumors real? — Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 16, 2014

It is said that if Harbaugh stays in the NFL, it would be with a team willing to make him both the head coach and general manager. And that looks like it may be a real possibility.

Go Blue Wolverine\’s Sam Webb\’s sources let him know that the Raiders are willing to turn over full control to Harbaugh ($).

And as for one rumor from yesterday regarding former star Wolverine tailback Tyrone Wheatley joining Harbaugh\’s staff, Sam Webb was there to debunk that rumor:

@SamWebb77 reports: Any rumors regarding Wheatley/Michigan are NOT true. Straight from Tyrone. He has not been contacted by anyone. #fact — The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) December 16, 2014

While Wheatley has not been contacted, it doesn\’t mean he wouldn\’t be a candidate for Harbaugh, if he came back to Michigan. I believe he would very interested in returning, especially if he\’s made an assistant head coach or co-offensive coordinator (like rumored).

December 15th

The day was quiet while most waited to hear news on Harbaugh\’s future in San Francisco. However, all we got was Harbaugh saying there\’s nothing planned but he\’s \”willing\” to meet with management.

But then about 9pm EST hit and the Michigan fan base ran wild.

To get it warmed up, The Wolverine\’s Chris Balas let it be known that things are \”trending up\”, \”in a big way\”($):

\”This one continues to trend well for the Wolverines, and today was a big step in the right direction. He knows what\’s at stake by keeping U-M waiting, and while the national media has said there\’s no way he\’ll end up in Ann Arbor, he still hasn\’t said \’no\’ to Michigan (as we reported from the get go).\”

Lets keep it rolling….

Michigan is dealing with unpredictable candidates, \”changes of heart,\” etc. But there\’s a reason this is entering its third week…. — Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) December 16, 2014

Then things really start to heat up when Go Blue Wolverine\’s Sam Webb\’s sources (one of his best) told him that the offer on the table is for $49 million ($). Now, he didn\’t get a length but speculated it would be for 8 years. He also said that his source has increased his belief, the athletic department is footing the bill and that these are just rumors and need to be taken with a grain of salt.

WDVE Pittsburgh\’s Gregg Henson then tweeted out that his sources were telling him the same money and a contract length:

Harbaugh, 8 years $49 million — Gregg Henson (@GreggHenson) December 16, 2014

That\’s the number being thrown around out there. And with multiple sources reporting it, it has some legs. Things then started to get even hotter, as DetroitSportRag.net\’s Jeff Moss was fully on the Harbaugh train:

I was never convinced that Jim Harbaugh was coming here until about 15 minutes ago. — Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) December 16, 2014

He also put together his post about hearing that Harbaugh texted former teammate and current Browns offensive line coach Andy Moeller \”getting the band back together\”. I\’ll let him take it from there:

\”As alluded to earlier today on MGoBlog.com, in recent days, Jim Harbaugh sent a text message to Andy Moeller (an offensive line coach on the Browns and the son of Gary Moeller) stating that it looked like they’d be “getting the band back together” — meaning former Michigan players led by Harbaugh heading back to Ann Arbor in an attempt to resurrect the Michigan football program.\”

Now this isn\’t the first time that text has been mentioned. The Wolverine\’s Balas touched on it three days ago ($):

\”That\’s a Blues Brothers movie reference, for those of you too young to know. And that sounds exactly like something Harbaugh would say to Moeller, according to those who know him well. The two were, and remain, close friends. If it happened, it was probably a week or two ago, and it\’s certainly not an assurance that he\’s going to return to Michigan to coach.\”

While it\’s up for debate what that text means, it looks like it very well may have happened since multiple sources hearing about it. One guy that was driving the Harbaugh\’s a lock to Michigan bus was Gregg Henson, and he\’s reporting that Harbaugh is \”poised\” to head back to Michigan:

\”A person closely connected to Michigan and college football just said this to me, “No, SF won’t fire him, I think he’s coming to Michigan.\”

Another person on board is The Wall Street Cheat Sheet\’s Jimmie Kaylor. He\’s saying All Signs Point to Jim Harbaugh as Michigan\’s Next Head Coach.

While a lot of insiders are hearing very good things about the chance of Harbaugh returning, that wasn\’t the only good news. Several sources are starting to hear about his potential coaching staff. Jeff Ross touched on Andy Moeller being a candidate to join Harbaugh\’s coaching staff at Michigan.

Scout\’s Allen Trieu also had been hearing some names, which includes a former Michigan star tailback and a popular name out of the SEC ($). And Gregg Henson was back again to back up one name Trieu was hearing:

My source floated a DC name for M of the Harbaugh deal is done. DJ Durkin. Google it — Gregg Henson (@GreggHenson) December 16, 2014

If you\’re wondering who DJ Durkin is, he\’s one of the most popular names on the defensive coordinator trail after four years at the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach with Will Muschamp at Florida. He is from Ohio and is known to be a very good recruiter. Then to wrap up the night, two Detroit radio personalities have been hearing this is going to happen:

Being bombarded with Harbaugh questions.I maintain what I\’ve been reporting for weeks. Jimmy wants the job and \’M\’ wants him. #Michigan #B1G — Arthur J. Regner (@ArthurJRegner) December 16, 2014

There is someone EXTREMELY connected to the Michigan program who is blarghing to everyone that Harbaugh to U of M is a done deal. 9am TUE.

— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) December 16, 2014

Things are at an all time high in terms of feeling positive about Harbaugh coming back to Michigan. However, I\’d just warn everyone not to pop the champagne yet. Harbaugh is known to be a bit \”flaky\”.

To keep up with everything that\’s been rumored the last couple weeks, here is what you\’ve missed:

Early December Update: Latest Jim Harbaugh to Michigan Rumors

Late November Update: Latest Jim Harbaugh to Michigan Rumors

Early December: Non-Harbaugh Michigan Coaching Rumors

Mid-December: Non-Harbaugh to Michigan Coaching Rumors