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Michigan players took possibility of Jim Harbaugh leaving in stride

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Mike Florio and Chris Simms unpack Jim Harbaugh’s move to remain at the college level and explain why the head coach ultimately landed on that decision.

The Michigan football program spent a couple of weeks, again, wondering whether coach Jim Harbaugh will be back in 2023. So during that period of football limbo, what did the players think?

Defensive lineman Mazi Smith recently shared some of his thoughts with Christopher Breiler of SI.com.

Don’t nobody talk about it,” Smith (pictured with Harbaugh) said of the mood while the coach’s status was in doubt. “We’re kind of trained to be like, once something becomes a reality, then we can react. But until then, what are you going to do?”

Smith has been through it before. He was recruited by former Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. And then Mattison left for Ohio State before Smith arrived.

“I learned early that this isn’t about personal relationships or friendships, this is about business, and this is about winning,” Smith said. “And just like I want to move on at some point and go to the NFL for my career, the coaches are in the same boat.”

Indeed they are. They always have been. It’s about time that players have the same flexibility as coaches do.

For Harbaugh, his true flexibility will be demonstrated by the terms of his next contract. In the current cycle, he could have left for an NFL job with a mere $3 million buyout.

Last year, Harbaugh interviewed with the Vikings. This year, he interviewed with the Broncos and spoke with the Panthers, before deciding to stay put.