Jack, John, and Jim are football’s new first family
How proud must Jack Harbaugh be? To have his two sons coaching against one another in the world’s premier football event must give him and his wife Jackie an immense sense of pride.
What they have accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary. For the first time ever, two brothers will lead their teams against one another in Super Bowl XLVII on February 3rd.
I’m betting it won’t be the last time, either.
The Harbaugh story is very familiar to all Ravens fans. Jack Harbaugh worked in the Midwest diaspora of college football for over 40 years. An assistant at high profile college programs such as Iowa, Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Stanford, he moved his family 17 times during his coaching career. And as head coach of the Western Kentucky he led the Hilltoppers to the 2002 NCAA-1AA (now FCS) championship.
Oldest son John Harbaugh went into a series of college coaching jobs before joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998 as special team coordinator, moved to defensive backfield coach, and then made the rare leap from NFL position coach (e.g., offensive line, quarterbacks, secondary) to head coach of the Baltimore Ravens without first serving as an offensive or defensive coordinator.
Many had doubts when Steve Bisciotti hired a defensive backfield coach to run the team, but who doubts his wisdom, and that of his advisors, now?
Jim Harbaugh was the athlete in the family. After a stellar collegiate career at the University of Michigan, Jim was a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. He played in the NFL for 13 years, mostly with the Bears and Indianapolis Colts. He played one year with the Baltimore Ravens in 1998 and finished up with the San Diego Chargers in 2000.
Some of you might have seen the recent ESPN clip of a very young, rookie Ray Lewis making his first NFL sack in 1996 against…….Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
Switching to coaching, Jim made quick winners of the University of San Diego and Stanford University. He was 11-1 and 12-1 in his final years at those universities. Hired as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, in his 2nd year there he has the Niners in their first Super Bowl in 18 years.
One can’t leave out the brother-in-law who’s married to Harbaugh sister Joani. Tom Crean is head coach of one of college’s glamour basketball university’s – Indiana. In 2008 Tom took over a depleted and disgraced basketball program in Bloomington and had the Hoosiers in the NCAA Sweet 16 four years later. His team is ranked in the top 10 this year with only 2 losses.
No doubt Tom and Joani will be in New Orleans a week from Sunday rooting on the brothers.
And no doubt we’ll see John and Jim in the stands come March when Indiana begins its quest for the Division I-A Championship.
The Mannings need to move over. Regardless of what happens on February 3rd, the Harbaughs are now America’s first family of football – and might remain so for quite some time.
Note: Stats and other information courtesy of NFL.com, Wikipedia, and CBSSports.com.