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Michigan Coaching Search: Jim Harbaugh Saga Marches On To Friday With Dolphins Out Of Picture

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This time last week, based on some comments Adam Schefter made on a podcast, it looked as though Jim Harbaugh was leaning toward leaving Stanford for Ann Arbor should Rich Rodriguez be fired and there be a Michigan coaching search. After the Orange Bowl on Monday, however, Michigan essentially stepped out of the picture and the thinking was that Harbaugh would end up in the NFL. Even Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said that Harbaugh was likely headed for the NFL at his Wednesday press conference following the announcement that Rodriguez had been let go.

Wednesday evening, Harbaugh appeared to be ready to sign a deal to become the new San Francisco 49ers head coach. He met with the team for quite some time and a deal sounded imminent. Things changed again, however, when the Miami Dolphins swooped in and owner Stephen Ross flew to California to make a pitch to Harbaugh. The Dolphins met with him on Thursday and reportedly were ready to offer him more than $7 million a season. Just like with the 49ers on Wednesday, a deal with the Dolphins on Thursday appeared to be imminent.

By Thursday night this story took another twist when it was reported that the Dolphins decided to retain head coach Tony Sparano, meaning Harbaugh would not be headed to Miami. Around this time it was also reported that the Denver Broncos were trying to get an interview with Harbaugh, but suddenly the thinking shifted to him being content with staying at Stanford. Quarterback Andrew Luck announced Thursday afternoon that he is going to return to Stanford for another year rather than enter the 2011 NFL Draft and presumably be the No. 1 pick, so it's not like Harbaugh has no reason to stay put with the Cardinal.

Just as people were coming to the realization that Harbaugh may stay where he's at, Jay Glazer reported that the 49ers not only were still talking with Harbaugh, but that a deal could be worked out before Friday morning. Shortly after, however, Glazer reported that he was hearing Stanford upped their offer and that Harbaugh was now leaning toward staying once again. He followed that up with a tweet that stated two separate 49ers sources had completely different stories about where the team stands with Harbaugh. One said that Harbaugh hadn't talked with the team in a day and another stated negotiations were taking place.

To say the least, this has been a wild and crazy story that just never seems to end. It reminds me of when high school recruit DeAnthony Arnett committed and decommitted to five different schools on Twitter the night before he announced his decision. The difference is that Arnett was just joking to play around with people. Unless Harbaugh just has fun screwing with people, it appears he can't make up his mind about where to coach in 2011.

Although Michigan doesn't appear to even be in the picture at the moment, the reason I updated the Michigan coaching search StoryStream with Harbaugh news is because the Wolverines haven't been eliminated for good just yet. It's highly unlikely that Harbaugh ends up in Ann Arbor, but based on how ridiculous this whole story has been, perhaps that would be the most fitting ending. As Ace from The Wolverine Blog pointed out on Twitter, Michigan fans right now are holding on to the fact that Harbaugh hasn't made a final decision yet and that there is still a chance he ends up in Ann Arbor. It's not likely, but at the very least this thing isn't dead for the Wolverines until an official announcement from him is made.

To recap, in the last week Harbaugh went from many believing he would end up in Ann Arbor, to likely being the 49ers coach, to supposedly being close to a deal with the Dolphins, to being out of contention for the Miami gig, to reportedly working on a deal with the 49ers and to leaning toward staying at Stanford. By the time you wake up and read this it's possible that the story will have taken three or four more twists and turns. It's that tough to predict how and when this story will finally conclude.

As a Michigan fan part of me is glad that Harbaugh hasn't ended up somewhere other than Ann Arbor just yet, but another part of me is ready for this drama to end so I can stop clinging to the slim chance of him ending up in Ann Arbor. While I've written him off as a legitimate candidate for a few days now, the ridiculousness of this story makes it tough to completely eliminate the thought from my mind. I understand Harbaugh probably won't be coaching in Michigan Stadium next September, but until an official announcement is made that he is going somewhere else or staying at Stanford, it's tough not to pray for a miracle.