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Jim Harbaugh is in his fourth season of coaching the Michigan football team, and has no immediate plans to leave Ann Arbor.

The Jim-Harbaugh-to-NFL questions won’t go away, but neither will Harbaugh

Rachel Lenzi

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.

Can we put the ‘Harbaugh to the NFL’ talk to rest? It seems he really wants to be here, and is showing a different side by making changes to himself and to the staff — Zo Eastwood, via Facebook

It’s a surprise that the Jim-Harbaugh-to-NFL talk hasn’t already been put to rest. By now, it should be pretty obvious that, as Harbaugh enters his fourth year at Michigan, he isn’t going anywhere.

But as long as Harbaugh is Michigan’s coach, a possible NFL return will always be a storyline. Harbaugh coached for four years in the NFL and will continue to be a coaching commodity in the pros. But he gets visibly annoyed when someone even brings up the notion to him that he could go back to the NFL. That happens at least 14 times a season. It happens even more in the offseason.

Earlier this week, comedian Adam Carolla asked Harbaugh a similar question on his self-titled show and its podcast. Harbaugh was diplomatic and constructive in his answer.

“My goal, really, is that I’d love to coach 100 players here at Michigan to be NFL players,” Harbaugh told Carolla. “I’d love to win 100 games here. So this is really personal for me, being at Michigan, for us to have great success in football and our youngsters to have great success in the classroom. I grew up here, I went to college here. I just want to have great success here.”

Let’s isolate the wins, and do some quick math. Harbaugh has 28 wins in three seasons at Michigan, so he’s about one-fourth of the way to 100 wins. Let’s say it takes eight more seasons for Harbaugh to reach 100 wins, and that Michigan wins at least nine games a season. (Yes, we’ll set the bar high after 2017.)

Eleven seasons at one school is a like a lifetime in college football coaching. The fact that Harbaugh is making changes to himself and to his staff in pursuit of growth and improvement shows he is investing in the Wolverines’ long-term future.

But the questions about Harbaugh’s future keep coming. And guess what? Harbaugh is still in Ann Arbor.

If it was up to Harbaugh, he’d demand a moratorium on any questions about his coaching future away from Michigan until his contract expires after the 2021 season, he actually packs up and leaves Ann Arbor, or he retires from coaching.

Until then, the most powerful answer Harbaugh can give to the question of “will you leave?” is simply staying at Michigan.

Read more answers to questions about the Michigan Wolverines here