Jim Harbaugh's Michigan decision is best for everyone
Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second half of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh's Michigan decision is best for everyone

Jim Harbaugh shut the door on a return to the NFL next season. His decision to remain at Michigan is best for all parties involved.

The Broncos and Panthers were both linked to Harbaugh as they search for new head coaches. Harbaugh's decision means both will have to look elsewhere.

Harbaugh received renewed interest from NFL front offices after two successful seasons in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines made it to the past two College Football Playoffs, first losing to Georgia 34-11 in 2021 and then to TCU on New Year's Eve this past season.

Michigan is a strong threat to return to the playoff next season, to either add to or break the streak of playoff heartbreak. The Wolverines played arguably their worst game of the season in the Fiesta Bowl. The team failed to score touchdowns on two possessions that ended inside the Horned Frogs' 5-yard line and QB J.J. McCarthy had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Despite those glaring miscues, Michigan only lost by six points, 51-45. The team brings back McCarthy, who had a strong season despite those huge turnovers against TCU, as well as the two-headed rushing attack of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. 

As long as Harbaugh doesn't call a reverse wide receiver pass on a fourth-and-goal, McCarthy doesn't throw multiple pick-sixes or have a touchdown reversed upon review that results in a fumble on the goal line on the next play -- all of which happened in this year's CFP semifinal -- Michigan should be in good shape to win a playoff game next season.

Edwards had 70 carries for 520 yards (7.4 yards per carry) over the final three games after Corum went down with a knee injury against Illinois on Nov. 19.

On Jan. 9, Corum announced he is returning to Michigan for his senior season instead of declaring for the NFL draft. Before his injury against Illinois, Corum was a leading candidate for Heisman Trophy consideration with 247 carries, 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Harbaugh's decision has ramifications in the NFL, as it clears the path for the Broncos to pursue former Saints head coach Sean Payton via trade. Denver has San Francisco's first-round pick, which could be used as part of a larger package of draft capital needed to land Payton.

It might not be a coincidence that Harbaugh's announcement came a day after his brother, John Harbaugh, looked as though he was having the worst time of his life during Baltimore's 24-17 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday night.

Jim Harbaugh didn't want that same future for himself. He'll save his misery for the Georgia buzzsaw in next year's College Football Playoff if he gets the chance.

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