Ann Arbor — While Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was reticent to further discuss comments he made earlier Sunday shooting down the annual drone of Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors, athletic director Warde Manuel reiterated he expects Harbaugh to finish his coaching career here.
Harbaugh responded sharply — “I addressed that” — when asked following the Michigan Football Awards Show about his comments to ESPN regarding the rumors that began swirling this past week. About this time every postseason, Harbaugh’s name has been linked to NFL vacancies. He previously coached the San Francisco 49ers before taking over at Michigan.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day," Harbaugh told ESPN on Sunday. "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. We have big plans here, and there's a lot we want to accomplish."
Harbaugh is completing his fourth season at Michigan. The Wolverines were 10-2 and are preparing to face Florida in the Peach Bowl, a New Year’s Six bowl, on Dec. 29.
"I can't be any more clear about this — it's not true," Harbaugh told ESPN. "I'm not going anywhere."
During an official Peach Bowl news conference following the Michigan Football Awards Show, Harbaugh was asked why he chose now to comment on the rumors.
“To make a statement of it,” he said. "To go on record, and to not be asked any more after that by people who like to yap and ask questions.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on not wanting to further discuss rumors about possibly leaving for the NFL. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Manuel was more willing to address the situation.
“Let me add this, Jim is one of the greatest coaches, college or pro, so I think it’s to his credit his name continually pops up,” Manuel said. “But I think, as I said before, when we think about bringing student-athletes here, we want the best, and we have the best coach. I just hope people understand and particularly our recruits don’t get dissuaded because people put out these rumors which this man deserves because of his ability to coach.
"But let’s draw back on the every year as soon as there’s an opening all of a sudden because his name’s mentioned that he’s not going to be here. He and I have a great relationship. We talked about this from the first year on. I have full faith in Jim, in the person he is and the leader he is of this team. I’m so happy he’s our coach. I look forward to him coaching, as I said before, until he retires from Michigan and ends his career here."
Junior defensive end Rashan Gary is preparing for the NFL Draft and has announced he will not play in the Peach Bowl. Harbaugh was asked if there are other players who also have decided not to play.
“I’ll let them make that decision or announcement,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t make announcements concerning that.”
Fifth-year senior defensive end Chase Winovich, voted the team MVP, and quarterback Shea Patterson said Sunday they will play in the bowl.
Junior linebacker Devin Bush suffered a hip pointer in the Ohio State game and missed much of the second half.
“He’s rehabbing and coming along good,” Harbaugh said.
Patterson suffered a knee contusion against the Buckeyes and said he will be “100 percent” by the Peach Bowl.
Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan said the game is a sellout and, with the addition of 3,500 expandable seats that also have been sold, he expects 74,000 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the game.
Michigan was given 12,500 ticket to sell. Manuel said he hasn’t checked recently but three and a half days after tickets were made available through Michigan, 7,500 had been sold.
“Very happy with our fans and know they’ll be there full throttle for us,” Manuel said.
... Ohio State coach Urban Meyer earlier in the week announced his retirement from coaching. Harbaugh was asked if he had any reaction to that news.
“No,” Harbaugh said.