Harbaugh finally returned his alma mater to national prominence in 2021 after several long years of disappointments. The Wolverines won the Big Ten and reached the College Football Playoff, where they were dispatched with ease by eventual champion Georgia in the semifinal. Harbaugh also finally beat Ohio State and led Michigan to its first Big Ten title in 17 years. Even with that unceremonious exit in the Orange Bowl, the 12-2 season and a No. 3 national ranking was a triumph for the Wolverines' head coach.
After all that building and a big season, would Harbaugh actually leave? He'll essentially be allowed to stay as long as he wants, and the program is finally at the level he's been striving for. Would he really walk away? Well, after three mostly rough years at Stanford, Harbaugh led the Cardinal to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl win in 2010. They finished ranked fourth in the nation and looked like a budding national power. Where was Harbaugh the next year? Coaching the San Francisco 49ers.
Harbaugh's stock was never higher than it was after leading a moribund Stanford program to national prominence. He wisely cashed in and went to the NFL. History may be repeating itself.