Today, he’ll ride in a parade celebrating his Super Bowl title.
But it wasn’t that long ago when Ravens head coach John Harbaugh couldn’t get a call back for college jobs.
Harbaugh reflected on that long road Monday, saying he was still in disbelief at his career path.
“I mean, I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation walking down the hallway after winning the Super Bowl,” Harbaugh told Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News. “To me, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation, in all honesty.”
Harbaugh was respected during his time as the Eagles special teams coach, but it didn’t translate into career advancement.
He recalled calling in favors to try to get an interview for the vacant Syracuse job in 2005, but they preferred Greg Robinson, who won 10 games in four years. The same was true at Boston College, which picked Jeff Jagodzinski, who lasted just two seasons. UCLA interviewed him, but he didn’t get that job either.
“I came in second for the UCLA job to Rick Neuheisel [in '08], and got close in a couple of other [college] jobs. But other jobs, I couldn’t even get an interview,” Harbaugh said. “It’s funny. When I was a finalist for the UCLA job, my wife and I talked about it, and it really wasn’t a good fit for us. But if it had been offered, obviously, it would’ve been a great thing. Then a week later, Ozzie [Newsome, the Ravens GM] calls about the Ravens.
“It just goes to show that in life, you can’t look at it like you’ve got to push things professionally, or whatever. God’s got a plan for you beyond your own ability to even dream and imagine what can happen.”
Of course, it takes a leap of faith to hire a special teams coach too, although Harbaugh’s success could open doors for that segment of the industry as well. The fact they have to work with the entire roster (other than quarterbacks), and generally have to make more decisions on the fly with personnel than offensive and defensive coordinators forces them to adapt, which is a key component in head coaching success.