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Jim Harbaugh: Why He's Just Not Worth Breaking The Bank

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJanuary 6, 2011

Is Jim Harbaugh really worth $8 million a year?
Is Jim Harbaugh really worth $8 million a year?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Jim Harbaugh—America's Most Wanted.

Jim Harbaugh—Football Coaching Rock Star.

Call him what you want, but the fellow who called the shots the past four years at Stanford is the hottest man in America.

It's good to be Jim Harbaugh this week.

Up to the plate steps Stephen Ross, a Michigan Man himself, who has the other Michigan Man squarely in his sights.

In case you've been buried in cement somewhere, here's what is happening with Jim Harbaugh, who could soon be the $40 Million Man:

The former Michigan quarterback won himself an Orange Bowl game on Monday night in Sun Life Stadium and there, of course, was Dolphin owner Stephen Ross, drooling over the prospect of having his very own Michigan Man to coach his team.

Ross has flown to California with his own version of "Entourage" and will put the sales pitch on Harbaugh today. Ross has Dolphin GM Jeff Ireland, who could be "E" and his got personal friend, former KC general manager Carl Pederson playing the role of Ari Gold. Not doubt there's the equivalent of "Turtle" and "Johnny Drama" tucked somewhere in the cabin of Ross' jet.

The Miami "entourage" is second up in the Harbaugh presentations. San Francisco's Jed York and his newly crowned GM Trent Baalke gave Harbaugh their best shot for FIVE HOURS on Wednesday.

Now here's where things get interesting and follow closely, please. The Dolphins already HAVE a head coach, Tony Sparano, and if we know all of this, so does Tony—so how's he feeling today?

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Now Ross, did we mention he's a Michigan Man, is going hard after Harbaugh. Word around the NFL is that he's prepared to make Harbaugh, drum roll please, the HIGHEST PAID coach in the National Football League!

We're talking $7-$8 million a year over probably five years minimum. This is the biggest high stakes game since Ben Cartwright once put up the Ponderosa for collateral.

Surely, Ross can sweeten the pot as well. This is the same guy who went and got some celebrities to join him in the owner-fest in Miami. He's got Gloria Estefan, Jimmy Buffett and the tennis ball smashing Williams sister—Venus and Serena—in the owners box with him.

Perhaps you can imagine his pitch:

"Listen Jim, Jimmy Buffett can't wait to hang out with you down in the Keys in the off season. He'll even come over to your house for a private concert for you and your friends. Venus and Serena want to give your wife private tennis lessons. It'll be great. Gloria and her husband want you and your wife to join them for dinner and dancing on South Beach! You'll love it!"

All kidding aside, Ross is coming hard for Harbaugh and being the good Michigan Man he is, he called up there to make sure he wasn't stepping on any Big Blue toes by going after the Stanford Flash.

Alas, Michigan said go ahead, he's out of our pay-scale and yes, Ross, keep those multi-million dollar donations coming!

What this all leads up to is the $40 million question: Is Jim Harbaugh worth it?

The answer is probably not.

Time and history have shown that there are great bargains in the NFL.

Tampa Bay got one with Raheem Morris. Bet he's not making $2 million a season; Pittsburgh came out well with Mike Tomlin and the reason Bill Cowher left the Steel City is that Pittsburgh never wants to break the bank on a head coach.

John Fox was an assistant when Carolina hired him and he had a good run there.

Whoever heard of Bill Belichick when New England made him their guy?

And Ross is prepared to pay Harbaugh more than Belichick, who is simply the best out there.

Daniel Snyder found out about the hot college coach when he hired Steve Spurrier to coach the Redskins; we know how that turned out.

Which brings us back to Harbaugh and The Entourage.

He'll get an offer today, count on it. Is he really worth that much? To most NFL owners, no.

To Ross, well it is his money to spent however he pleases, but if he's successful in landing Harbaugh and paying him that kind of money, some owners won't be real happy about that.

First things first, Ross still has to comply with the Rooney Rule. He HAS to interview a minority candidate.

Good luck with that. 

If Harbaugh wants it, Ross is prepared to hand it over.

Hey, what's wrong with one Michigan Man making another Michigan Man rich beyond belief?

Yes, Jim Harbaugh's busy today. He'll have some decisions to make.

Don't try to reach him, word has it that his voice mail box is full.

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