Michigan officially has its man: Jim Harbaugh is coming back.

After weeks of speculation that he was the top target, that the Wolverines would have to fight off NFL teams and that the University of Michigan offered $8 million a season, Harbaugh has signed an agreement and will be introduced at a news conference at noon Tuesday as Michigan’s next football coach, two people within the university with knowledge of the negotiations told the Free Press Monday evening. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because university officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the coaching search.

The former All-America quarterback who guaranteed — and delivered — a victory over Ohio State and led the Wolverines to the 1987 Rose Bowl is returning to the sideline at Michigan Stadium nearly 20 years later, this time as the program’s 20th head coach.

From the moment Brady Hoke was fired Dec. 2 — and even before that in many eyes — Harbaugh, 51, was the first and overwhelming choice to resurrect a program that has missed a bowl three times and topped eight victories only once since Lloyd Carr retired after the 2007 season.

Harbaugh had the resume, the connections and the personal passion to restore his alma mater among the elite programs in college football.

Wolverine Nation spent the day waiting for official word that Harbaugh was the new coach. Sunday night, after the 49ers’ last game, the team and its coach announced they mutually agreed to part ways. That removed the last hurdle, the final year of Harbaugh’s five-year, $25-million contract.

Michigan, meanwhile, continued its radio silence. Interim athletic director Jim Hackett and university spokesmen basically have declined all comment during the search for Hoke’s replacement. The word from the Wolverines has been simple: When we have something to announce, we will announce it.

In the early evening darkness, Harbaugh arrived in a chartered jet at Detroit Metro Airport. He wore a Michigan hat and smiled and waved to media members as a caravan of six cars left a private hanger at 6 p.m. and traveled to an airport hotel, which was reached 15 minutes later. There, the coach, his family and Hackett immediately unpacked their vehicles and entered the hotel.

Asked whether he wanted to make a comment, Harbaugh declined. “I think we’ll have some comments tomorrow,” he added, smiling.

About 7 p.m., the university decided it had something to announce. A news release said Hackett would meet with the media at the Junge Family Champions Center “to make a major announcement” about the football program. The release provided no other details and did not mention Harbaugh.

After the noon news conference, Michigan intends to introduce Harbaugh to fans during its 3 p.m. basketball game at Crisler Center. In anticipation of that event, tickets for the Big Ten opener with Illinois sold out Sunday.

Hackett has kept everything on the quiet, so much so that his coaches know not to discuss what they might know.

“We’ve had some contact and he’s kept me in the loop of what’s going on,” basketball coach John Beilein told reporters earlier Monday in his regular news conference. “I’d probably get fired if I told you what’s going on, so he’s kept me in the loop just enough. He and I will talk. I think he’s certainly done a good job thus far and I think everybody is excited how, in a very difficult time, has handled all this adversity.”

Throughout the day, Harbaugh’s hiring appeared to such a foregone conclusion that plenty of others weighed in with comments. Such as Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ quarterback and a former Wolverine.

“Obviously the program at Michigan — as a former player — has not been in the best of places for one reason or another,” Brady said on WEEI. “If (Harbaugh) does go there, he brings a lot of credibility and winning. He’s been a great coach in college and the pros. To have a great coach like that lead a program is awesome.

“If Michigan could get that type of coach it would be incredible, especially with him knowing the history of the school and the tradition, playing there. Just to have him back as part of the school would be phenomenal.”

Brady, a three-time Super Bowl winner, is one of many former Michigan players who have endorsed Harbaugh over the past several weeks since Hackett fired Hoke.

Asked after his final 49ers game whether he would be the next Michigan coach, Harbaugh responded by evading the question but did not deny the possibility. “There will be announcements made,” he said, “concerning those things.”

With the 49ers, he compiled a 44-19-1 record over four seasons, including a Super Bowl berth in his second season. He went 58-27 as a college coach at Stanford and San Diego.

After it appeared his future was no longer with the 49ers — a franchise he guided to three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl — the only question was whether he would remain in the NFL or come to Michigan.

In the end, after he and the 49ers mutually cut ties Sunday night, it was a move for him to leave the NFL behind despite reported last-ditch efforts from the Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and New York Jets to change his mind. Pro jobs will always be there with so much rollover year after year and given that he’s only 51, that opportunity should be there for a while.

But at Michigan, which is just 46-42 since Carr retired with only two victories against Ohio State and Michigan State, he may have only one chance to coach his alma mater.