The University of Michigan introduced Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach on Tuesday, and watching that press conference was a little painful. It was like watching an ex- out with their new partner. You see all the mannerisms, jokes and so forth that remind you of them. Good times indeed!
I did want to tie up one loose end as it relates to Jim Harbaugh's contract with Michigan. When the rumors were swirling, it was reported as a deal that would be six years, $48 million, meaning an $8 million per year figure. In the morning leading up to Harbaugh's introduction, word got out that the deal was actually $5 million a year, with Harbaugh not wanting to be the highest paid coach in the country, or even in the Big Ten.
While the initial base salary is $5 million per year, he has a chance to earn a lot more than that. He received a $2 million signing bonus. The deal includes 10 percent increases after the third and fifth years of the deal, which means he would make $5.5 million in years four and five, and then $6.05 million in years six and seven, raising the average to $5.72 million per year. Additionally, there are incentives totaling $9.275 million for bowl game, award and academic performances.
The most interesting part of this is that Michigan will "determine an appropriate deferred compensation arrangement" after the 2015 season. There is no word on the numbers, but a strong (or at least improved) 2015 performance could lead to some significant money kicked in as deferred compensation. And given Jim Harbaugh's proclivity for moving from job-to-job, maybe it is used as a carrot to get him to stick around.
Over the last ten months, we have heard speculation that Jim Harbaugh wanted a ton of money, and effectively wanted to set a new bar for coaching salaries. While he can make more money with this deal than with the 49ers, it is far from a game-changing contract. This is not to say money wasn't important, but it would seem to prove that Harbaugh was speaking truthfully this when it came to the money side of thing.
The power side of things might be a little different. In getting this contract, reports have Harbaugh getting full control of the football operation. This covers on-field stuff, but also support staff including communications, administrative, travel, operations and so forth. I don't blame him for wanting to take over all of that to overhaul a struggling program. He said he didn't want any more power at the NFL level, so this is obviously not quite the same. But clearly having more control was of value to Jim Harbaugh. And given his personality, is this really a surprise?