Jim Harbaugh has been wildly successful at every level of football thus far in his career, but he's also moved quite a bit. He took the job at FCS San Diego in 2004, and went 29-6 in three seasons, went 29-21 in four years at Stanford, turning the program into a Pac-12 power, and took the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl and two additional NFC Championships in four years.
It is assumed that Harbaugh will be around longer at his alma mater Michigan, but not everyone is sold on the notion. CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd was a guest on CBS Sports Radio's Gio and Jones Show late last week, and discussed Harbaugh's Michigan tenure. He believes that the head 'Michigan Man' may burn out in Ann Arbor in just a few years, like he has elsewhere.
“His shelf life at any given place is about four years,” Dodd said. “His act wears thin about four years in. I just don’t see him as a lifer at Michigan. I may be wrong. But sooner or later, he’s going to have to start beating those teams. Specific to this year, Michigan has to go to Michigan State, to Ohio State and to Iowa. So anyone thinking they’re going to win the Big Ten or get to the playoff, that’s three pretty big acts to do on the road.”
Listen to the spot here:
Technically, Harbaugh does have to prove that he can stay at a program long-term, but it is not as if the jumps he made before San Francisco were illogical. He moved from an FCS team to one in the Pac-12, and again made a jump to a storied NFL franchise after turning around a pretty bad Stanford program.
The San Francisco situation grew toxic, but there's a fair chance that it winds up being the exception on Jim Harbaugh's resume. We will find out in a few years, and there's a good chance he leaves Michigan at some point in order to chase a Super Bowl, but it would be very surprising if it was in the next three years.