According to two independent sources, some who are familiar with the thinking of Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross believe he is prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure that the only NFL team Jim Harbaugh coaches is the Miami Dolphins, but only if he wants to make the jump.
While Ross would ideally like Harbaugh to stay at the University of Michigan, they believe that he understands that Harbaugh may be offered a deal that is too good to pass up. That’s because according to a report from Pro Football Talk, the New York Jets are prepared to make an offer to Harbaugh that he can’t refuse.
While Harbaugh has said in the past that he plans to stay at Michigan, money often talks and may do so in this situation. However, can we take him at his word when he told ESPN earlier this month that he has no interest in making a jump back to the NFL?
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh said. “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.”
At that time though, there were no rumors of an NFL team making him an offer, never mind one that he reportedly won’t be able to refuse. If the report is true, the Jets will have to offer some serious cash because as of October 2018, Harbaugh’s salary was listed at $7.504 million with a max bonus of $1.325 million. That was good for the third highest salary in all of college football, right behind Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, respectively. With Meyer out of the picture, that leaves Harbaugh as the second highest paid coach in all the land.
Besides financials, Harbaugh also has incentive to stay at Michigan. That is because with Meyer retiring, the time is right for Harbaugh and the Michigan to take that next step and take control over the Big 10. Harbaugh has never defeated Ohio State as the head coach at Michigan, but that could change beginning in 2019. Being the competitor Harbaugh is, this is one blemish on his resume that he’d rather not have.
Thus, if the Jets want to lure Harbaugh away, they’re going to have to make him an offer that will likely make him the highest paid head coach in NFL history and then possibly more, which may include full control of the organization. But, those familiar with Ross’ thinking believe that he won’t go down without a fight and will do whatever he can to ensure that the only team Harbaugh coaches is the Dolphins.
Ross’ affinity for Harbaugh dates to when he first became the owner of the Dolphins. Soon after, with the late Tony Sparano still employed as head coach, he jumped on a plane with then general manager Jeff Ireland and talked to Harbaugh about taking the Miami job after the season. However, negotiations broke off and on the flight home, Ross announced to the media that Sparano would be back for another season.
Harbaugh would soon take a job with the San Francisco 49ers and led them to one Super Bowl berth and three conference championship appearances in four years. However, he was pushed out by ownership due to personality conflicts and other issues.
That’s when he became a candidate for the Michigan job and that’s when Ross started making it known to those close to him that he preferred Harbaugh at Michigan rather than in Miami. Ross is an alumnus of Michigan and is their biggest booster as he has donated over $200 million over the past several years.
To simplify things, look at it this way - if the Dolphins are Ross’ NFL franchise, Michigan is Ross’ college franchise. But, that won’t stop him from making sure that Harbaugh doesn’t coach any NFL team except Miami. Those familiar with Ross’ thinking say he simply wouldn’t be able to live with the results if Harbaugh was coaching in the NFL and it wasn’t the Dolphins.
It’s an interesting scenario that we’ll have our eyes posted on. To get the latest updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @CannataNFL.
So, to recap:
- Ross would prefer that Harbaugh stays at Michigan
- If Harbaugh is intrigued by the Jets offer and wants to make the jump, those familiar with Ross’ thinking believe he will jump in.
- Those familiar with Ross’ thinking believe will make an even better offer to Harbaugh in an effort to ensure that the only NFL team that Harbaugh coaches is the Dolphins.