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Inside a turbulent month at Michigan, and how Jim Harbaugh is moving forward

FOR MORE THAN a month, speculation swirled about Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s future.

In the days leading up to his highly publicized interview with the Minnesota Vikings on Feb. 2, Harbaugh’s actions convinced many inside Michigan’s program he would leave if given the chance.

“He’s gone!” one staffer said before the interview.

“Everybody knew he wanted out,” another added. “It wasn’t a surprise.”

For the second straight offseason — granted, for entirely different reasons — Michigan was a program left largely in limbo. And yet, following news that Harbaugh did not receive an offer from the Vikings and would remain in Ann Arbor, it took only one week for the program to hit the reset button.

Between Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, Harbaugh interviewed for an NFL job that many people, including Harbaugh himself, thought he’d get. He ended up returning to Michigan and pledged he would never flirt with the NFL again. He lost offensive coordinator Josh Gattis to the Miami Hurricanes, a lateral move; hired defensive coordinator Jesse Minter from Vanderbilt; and promoted three assistants, while turning over offensive playcalling responsibilities to quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss and offensive line coach Sherrone Moore.

On Feb. 10, Michigan’s coaches and staff returned to their offices in Schembechler Hall after a week off following recruiting. Outside of Gattis — who expressed in a leaked goodbye text message feeling underappreciated by the school’s administration — everyone else who had contributed to Michigan’s breakthrough 2021 season remained, and there have been no public signs of animosity or hesitancy following Harbaugh’s return. Michigan hasn’t lost other coaches or had a rush of players enter the transfer portal.

An awkward process that played out publicly likely wouldn’t have ended so smoothly at another college football blueblood program, but the unorthodox has become the expected at Michigan under Harbaugh. From previous NFL rumors to an unusually lengthy contract negotiation after the 2020 season to the Vikings dalliance this winter, Michigan and its coach have always found ways to turn the page.

“It’s been wild, but all good,” a team source said. “We’re back and everybody’s around.”

Despite an undeniably unusual offseason for a program that just won the Big Ten and earned its first-ever College Football Playoff berth, it may end up being just another chapter in the relationship between Harbaugh and his alma mater — a relationship that has been anything but typical.

ESPN reporters Heather Dinich, Chris Low, Adam Rittenberg and Tom VanHaaren spoke to those in and around Michigan to explore how the program dealt with the turbulence of the past few weeks and why a similar saga likely can’t happen again.

Sourced from ESPN

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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