What if the Harbaugh NFL rumors have more to do with helping the players than Harbaugh?
It’s officially “Harbaugh to the NFL” rumor season in the great state of Michigan. The Wolverines won their first Big Ten Championship since 2004, and Harbaugh’s first as head coach, no doubt raising Harbaugh’s stock dramatically in the past month. Possibly more than at any other time in his seven years with the Maize and Blue.
One couldn’t blame Harbaugh for chasing the big burlap sacks full of cash the NFL tosses around, but universities are doing their best to keep up. The recent contract extensions for James Franklin and Mel Tucker, as bonkers as they may be, could be pushing contract negotiations around the Big Ten. Harbaugh, however, took a pay cut and gave all of his $2 million bonus back to the Michigan athletic department. Money doesn’t seem to be the issue for Harbaugh.
Enter the new NIL (name, image and likeness) deals now allowed by the NCAA in which players can profit off themselves and you start to see where the issue may still involve money.
For example, let me take you back to August of 2021. The weather was warm, high school bands could be heard in the distance, and Urban Meyer was already having…erm…” headaches” at Jacksonville. Oh, and Buckeye QB recruit Quinn Ewers signed an NIL deal worth $1.4 Million. That’s “million” with seven dollars signs.
It was then reported Texas, through its NIL deals, offered Ewers “first round draft pick” money to transfer. For the 2021 draft, you’re talking a salary range between roughly $11M and $36.9M. With a deal like that, it’s now possible Quinn Ewers goes to the NFL and takes a pay cut. That’s not even accounting for inflation!
Michigan’s NIL policy does not compare. The University will not aid in signing deals, hiring agents or securing the help of marketing professionals. Essentially, they’re leaving the player to their own devices as they attempt selling themselves for a life changing sum of money. Yes, I’m throwing shade.
Michigan also prohibits players from using the Block-M logo for an NIL deal. This was a policy previously adopted by Ohio State but later reversed. I’m betting because they realized the logo was half the point of NIL. But whatever.
Jared Wangler, former Michigan Running Back and founder of Valient Management Group, contended Michigan will need to follow suit to remain competitive. Wangler started Valient with former Tight End Jake Butt and Michigan hockey forward Niko Porikos because they saw gaps in Michigan’s ability to help their students.
Michigan is clearly lacking in their NIL flexibility which could be the reason for Harbaugh’s shenanigans with NFL rumors. It’s possible his telling the recruit of his NFL interest was in a spirit of transparency. But it’s also possible he’s letting the recruits in on the possibility of what NIL deals at the University of Michigan could be in the near future thanks to his leverage.
I’m not saying Harbaugh is the most altruistic coach in College Football…but I’m not NOT saying that…
*Featured Image Photo Credit: Photo from sportsnaut.com