Jim Harbaugh is done trying to return to the NFL. At least that's what the University of Michigan head coach is saying after he nearly left the Wolverines for the Minnesota Vikings.

Harbaugh was viewed as the frontrunner in the Vikings’ coaching search when he interviewed with the team Wednesday. The 58-year-old was ready to take the job if it was offered to him, even after leading his alma mater to the College Football Playoff just a few weeks earlier.

“There was a tugging at me that I was once that close to a Super Bowl and I didn’t get it. Some NFL jobs came open. I was contacted by the [Minnesota] Vikings,” Harbaugh told Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press. “For better or for worse, it was something I wanted to explore. I went in thinking, ‘I’m gonna have 100% conviction on this, and if they [Minnesota] have 100% conviction on this, then it’s something I’m gonna do.' ”

The notion that the interview was simply a formality turned out to be false. Harbaugh was never offered the job, and he decided to stay put.

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell is expected to become the next Vikings head coach.

“I called Warde [Manuel, the Michigan athletic director] and I asked him if he wanted me to be the head coach. And he said, ‘Yes, 100%.’ And I said, 'OK then. That’s what I want to do,' ” Harbaugh told Album.

“And I told him, ‘Warde, this will not be a reoccurring theme every year. This was a one-time thing.' ”

Prior to becoming Michigan’s head coach for the 2015 season, Harbaugh had more success than almost any NFL coach from 2011 to 2014. Harbaugh led the San Francisco 49ers to three NFC Championship Game appearances. The 49ers came up just short in the 2013 Super Bowl as they were stopped at the Baltimore Ravens’ 5-yard line with a chance to take the lead with less than two minutes left in the contest.

There have been rumors in recent years that Harbaugh was considering a return to the NFL. Harbaugh was forced to take a massive pay cut after a disappointing 2020 season. The possibility that he would actually leave Michigan was more real this year than ever.

Now, Harbaugh says, if he leaves Michigan, it’ll be the Wolverines’ decision.

“Sure, the Super Bowl is the greatest prize in our sport,” Harbaugh said. “But winning a national championship. That’s pretty darn great. Let’s do that.”

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Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 30, 2019, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Leon Halip/Getty Images