JIM HARBAUGH has signed a deal to become the new coach at Michigan, a source told the Associated Press yesterday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no formal announcement from the school or Harbaugh, who did not return calls or text messages. But not long after Harbaugh arrived at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport last night, Michigan scheduled a news conference today for a "major" football announcement.
"I think we'll have some comments tomorrow," Harbaugh told The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper in Ann Arbor.
Harbaugh, 51, coached the 49ers to three straight NFC championship games and San Francisco lost the 2013 Super Bowl to a Baltimore Ravens team coached by his brother, John. After the 49ers slipped to 8-8 this season and missed the playoffs, he parted ways with the team Sunday in what both sides called a mutual decision.
A day later, his name was the buzz of the Big Ten.
The idea of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry spiced up with Harbaugh vs. Urban Meyer harkens to the league's glory days, when Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes ruled the conference.
Big Ten Network analyst and former college coach Gerry DiNardo said Michigan, the only school with more than 900 all-time wins, would be bringing in a "rock star" capable of returning the Wolverines to elite status in a short time.
Under Brady Hoke, Michigan dipped to 5-7 this season and was among only four Big Ten teams to not earn a bowl bid. The Wolverines were 31-20 in Hoke's four seasons and declined steadily after an 11-2 mark in his first year.
Harbaugh went 58-27 overall as a college coach at San Diego and Stanford, including a 29-21 record in four seasons with the Cardinal. He took over a 1-11 team when he was hired in December 2006 and quickly turned the program back into a winner and bowl contender.
Harbaugh, the starting quarterback for three seasons in the mid-1980s under Schembechler, is now being looked to as the coach who can finally return Michigan to prominence.
Harbaugh's leadership showed up during his playing days in Ann Arbor. He is well remembered for delivering a victory he guaranteed over Ohio State in 1986, the same season he was Big Ten player of the year and finished third in Heisman Trophy voting.
He played 15 years in the NFL, earning the nickname "Captain Comeback" for leading fourth-quarter playoff rallies for the Indianapolis Colts. Harbaugh later coached quarterbacks for the Oakland Raiders in 2002-03 before returning to the college ranks.
Early media reports had Michigan offering Harbaugh $49 million over 6 years. DiNardo, whose coaching resumé includes stops at LSU, Indiana and Vanderbilt, said he doubted Harbaugh would have taken the job if he weren't promised to have full autonomy in running the program.
* Miami left tackle Ereck Flowers is skipping his final season of eligibility and will enter the NFL draft, the school announced. The 6-6, 330-pound Flowers is considered a potential first-round selection.
Also announcing early departures for the draft were Indiana running back Tevin Coleman and Southern California defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
* All-Big 12 defensive end Shawn Oakman says he plans to return for his senior season at Baylor. Some projections have Oakman, a Penn State transfer, as a high NFL draft pick next spring if he comes out early.
* Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly named sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire instead of senior Everett Golson to start in today's Music City Bowl against Louisiana State.
* A former head coach in both the pro and college ranks, Lane Kiffin said he plans to return to Alabama next season as offensive coordinator.
It was the first time Kiffin has addressed the media since August. Head coach Nick Saban does not allow access to his assistants during the regular season. He thanked Saban for the opportunity - "I should pay him" - and said he's become a better coach simply by observing how things are done at Alabama.
In games yesterday
* Cole Stoudt threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and 18th-ranked Clemson routed Oklahoma, 40-6, in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The Tigers finished 10-3. Oklahoma (8-5) had five turnovers, including three interceptions.
* True freshman Kyle Allen threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth, and Texas A&M erased an early 10-point deficit to defeat West Virginia, 45-37, in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. The Aggies finished 8-6 and the Mountaineers fell to 7-6.