Jim Harbaugh has made plenty of headlines over the course of the college football season. Referencing General Patton earlier in the season, he set the tone for what was to come. The Ted Lasso wannabe made it sound like this might finally be the year Michigan beats Ohio State and then they went and did it, en route to the College Football Playoff. Finally, Harbaugh was making headlines for all the right reasons.
Harbaugh, who took a 10 percent pay cut before the season as the school dealt with the pandemic economy, also made waves when he announced he was donating all bonus money earned this season to other Michigan employees who had their pay cut. Considering all the wins, the Big Ten title, and the CFP appearance, Harbaugh’s bonuses could reach $3 million before the season is done.
Not bad for a guy who many thought could have been on the hot seat coming into the season.
Harbaugh was asked recently how he felt about the pay cut taken before the season, given all the success he’s had on the field, and he doesn’t seem too bothered by it.
Jim Harbaugh on taking a pay cut after last season:
"No big deal."
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) December 30, 2021
“I reacted [like it was] no big deal, attacking each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, as always,” Harbaugh also said of the pay cut. “It didn’t really mean anything to me. It’s just money. Big deal.”
“You asked me before about [money]. I’d do it for free,” he said. “I would do this job for free. I just love it.”
It’s a noble answer for the coach, who could certainly demand a higher salary given the 12-1 season he’s had. Of course, Harbaugh also makes a base salary of $605,000 before bonuses and has been making millions as a college football and NFL coach for years, so it’s also a bit easier for him to say that than many other people. Harbaugh could literally work for free for the next 10 years and he’d probably still be fine. It’s a luxury most people don’t have.
The reaction to Harbaugh’s sentiments seems to go one way or another, based on how you feel about his overall economic situation.
There’s a part of this I think Harbaugh genuinely feels. The way he lives his life isn’t changed by a pay cut and there’s only so much money his way of living can spend. There is, however, the part of him that’s a fierce competitor and what the pay cut represented in that context https://t.co/XSXgEmLVpi
— Josh Mansour (@joshmansour) December 30, 2021
Football Guy https://t.co/qA7bU3LKyS
— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) December 30, 2021
Three conference commissioners, four bowl executives, Mark Emmert and the entire membership of the college football coaches association just fainted. https://t.co/qrzsGIimbg
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) December 30, 2021
“It’s just money” is something only rich people say https://t.co/z0OPQSyq3Y
— David Gardner (@byDavidGardner) December 30, 2021
Harbaugh should be applauded for the bonus money he’s giving away to those who need it more than he does, though you can also make a case that the university has a responsibility to do that as well. Still, Michigan fans have to be pretty happy with their guy and the way he conducts himself. And if he leads the Wolverines to win over Georgia this weekend, well, he can pretty much say whatever he wants.