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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh calls NFL departure rumors ‘total crap’

Jim Harbaugh says he isn't going anywhere. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh wasted little time in responding to a report that his representatives are angling for him to make a return to the NFL, telling the parents of current and prospective players in a letter that the claim is “total crap.”

Michigan Insider and ESPN both obtained the letter, in which Harbaugh says he doesn’t even have an agent and blames “our enemies” for spreading the rumor.

On Wednesday, Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett reported that “Harbaugh’s representatives have their eye on getting their client back in the NFL,” which he left to return to his alma mater in 2014. This follows speculation last month by Joel Klatt, Fox Sports’ lead college football analyst, that Harbaugh will walk away from the job at the end of the season after again failing to lead the Wolverines to the Big Ten title (Michigan already has two conference losses this season to fall behind unbeaten Ohio State and Penn State, and the Wolverines still have to play a surging Buckeyes team they have beaten only twice in the previous 18 meetings).

Harbaugh won 10 games in three of his first four seasons at Michigan, a record that would be considered highly successful for most coaches. But the Wolverines have annually failed to not only topple their hated rival from Ohio but also have come up short in numerous other big games over the past four-plus seasons. After Saturday’s 28-21 loss at Penn State, they fell to 1-7 against ranked teams on the road under Harbaugh — having been outscored 63-3 in the first quarter of those eight games — and 1-9 overall against top 10 teams. As a point-spread underdog, Harbaugh’s Michigan teams have gone 0-8.

Rumors of Harbaugh’s return to the NFL hardly are surprising considering the success he had there: three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. But Harbaugh has long denied interest and previously said the rumors were made up by rivals looking to spook recruits. In 2016, he described rumors that he would consider the Los Angeles Rams job as “lies made up by our enemies,” whom he described as “jive turkeys.”

Last year, Harbaugh repeated that line of thought to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh said. “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.”

No. 19 Michigan hosts No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday. As of this writing, the game is seen by Vegas oddsmakers as a pick 'em.

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