Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh

Did I call it, or did I call it?

So here’s what I said in October about a potential Harbaugh Bowl:

Right out of the gate, I’ll be keeping an eye on two teams who came up short by 3 points each in the AFC and NFC conference finals. Those teams are the Ravens and 49ers, coached by brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, respectively. The brother vs. brother Thanksgiving matchup was one of the big stories of last November, and although the game wasn’t exactly a thriller, it’s exciting to imagine the hype that would occur if the Harbaugh brothers were to square off in New Orleans in Super Bowl 2013; the odds seem stacked against it, but then again, impossible is nothing!

So, now that I’ve taken way too much credit for my prediction (if you can call it that), let’s move on to the Tale of Two Harbaughs

John (Ravens) and Jim (49ers) are part of a coaching-dominated family. Their father Jack coached football for 43 years at 9 different colleges, including Michigan, Iowa, Stanford, and Pittsburgh. As the head coach at Western Kentucky, Jack led his team to the Division 1-AA national title in 2002. As his two sons grew up, they were right by their father’s side on the practice field or in the locker room, soaking up the game of the football. John (older by 15 months) played his college career at Miami (Ohio) as a defensive back. As soon as he finished his playing career, he began coaching right beside his father as an assistant at Western Michigan. He quickly moved up the coaching ladder and joined the Philadelphia Eagles as their Special Teams Coordinator in 1998. After developing a reputation as one of the NFL’s best Special Teams coaches, the Baltimore Ravens hired him as their head coach in 2008.

Not many fans knew of John at the time but they recognized the last name because of his brother Jim. Jim started at quarterback for three seasons at Michigan and was drafted 26th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1987 NFL Draft. He played for 15 seasons, with stints with the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, and San Diego Chargers. Known as “Captain Comeback” for leading his teams late in games, Jim immediately began his coaching career after retiring. He started as an assistant in 2002 with the Oakland Raiders but left for the college ranks to become a head coach at the University of San Diego in 2005. After 3 years of success, Stanford offered him their head coaching position in 2007. Jim turned the Stanford football program around and led them to their best season in 2010, finishing ranked #4 in the country. Soon after the season, the San Francisco 49ers hired him to become their head coach.

For the Harbaugh’s, coaching has always been a major part of their family, including the third sibling, sister Joani, who is married to Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean. John and Jim both fondly remember the hours they spent as kids by their father’s side of the practice field so they encourage it now as they coach. “A lot of coaches would look at that as a distraction, but I think in our places of work and what we’re doing, I think we should make it family friendly,” John Harbaugh said. “Let the kids come around. Let the kids be a part of it. They’re not as much of a distraction as you would think.”

by Phil DeGuglielmo, with intro by Justin Hamilton