John Harbaugh not far removed from college-job snubs

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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.

11 responses to “John Harbaugh not far removed from college-job snubs

  1. Yes, try to give Belichick the credit for the Ravens hiring Harbaugh. We all know the imprimatur of BB amounts to a guarantee of success (Crennel, Weis, McDaniels, Pioli).

    OTOH, the image of ol’ Grumpy contemplating another year of not winning the Super Bowl, partially due to the guy he “recommended”, is amusing.

    Getting back to the subject–I’m sure Harbaugh has too much class to do what I would do, which is to take a picture of myself with the Lombardi Trophy and mail it to everyone who didn’t give me a job, with the caption, “And what has the guy you hired won lately?”

  2. It’s not about credit, it’s just an interesting footnote about a head coach recommending a special teams coach from another team for a HC position.

    Unless you hate Belichick, then it’s not interesting…?

  3. “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. ”

    Mike Ditka was special teams and tight ends coach with the Cowboys when Halas hired him.

    Been there, done that 30 years ago.

  4. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why more special teams coaches don’t get a shot. The couple that come to mind, Harbaugh and Cowher, are amongst the best two of the past 25 years.

    With such a high bust rate in the offensive and defensive coordinator route as well as the hit and miss college coach leap, you’d think more of these guys would get more chances with two such good examples of it working.

  5. FYI… He wasn’t the Eagles special teams coordinator when the Ravens hired him. Andy Reid moved him to be the defensive backs coach for the sole reason that he would have opportunities elsewhere. After just one year on the defensive side of the ball with Jim Johnson, he finally got a couple opportunities. He likely never would have had a shot if Andy didn’t remove him from special teams, it’s just the mindset of the league.

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