“Wearing out welcome” isn’t new for Jim Harbaugh

Getty Images

Tuesday’s new episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel includes a look not only at Seattle’s quarterback but also at the former San Francisco head coach who no longer has to deal with Russell Wilson.  Andrea Kremer profiles new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who has returned to Ann Arbor decades after he once patrolled the sidelines as a boy — and actually once ran into the end zone to celebrate a touchdown.

Kremer looks at Jim Harbaugh’s legendary intensity and competitiveness, which he admits has undermined plenty of relationships.

“You didn’t always play well with others, necessarily,” Kremer says to Harbaugh.

“Yeah, people say that,” Harbaugh responds.

“Well, what do you say?” Kremer asks.

“It must be true, yeah,” Harbaugh replies.  “Sometimes I’d wear out my welcome.”

“What does that mean you wear out your welcome?”

“They just don’t want to be around you after a while,” Harbaugh admits.

It happened not only when Jim Harbaugh was a youth, but also as an adult.  And that may have contributed to his departure from the 49ers.

“He does a great job of giving you that spark, that initial boom,” 49ers guard Alex Boone tells Kremer.  “But after a while, you just want to kick his ass. . . .  He just keeps pushing you, and you’re like, ‘Dude, we got over the mountain.  Stop.  Let go.’  He kind of wore out his welcome.”

“What does that mean?” Kremer asks.

“I think he just pushed guys too far.  He wanted too much, demanded too much, expected too much.  You know, ‘We gotta go out and do this.  We gotta go out and do this.  We gotta go out and do this.’  And you’d be like, ‘This guy might be clinically insane.  He’s crazy.’ . . .  I think that if you’re stuck in your ways enough, eventually people are just going to say, ‘Listen, we just can’t work with this.'”

Boone also said something that shed’s light on the perspective of the locker room.  “The players had nothing to do with him getting fired,” Boone says, which suggests that the players aren’t buying the whole “mutual parting” thing.

Brother John Harbaugh, the Ravens head coach who beat Jim’s 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, recalls a strong obsession with winning when they were youths.

“He always wanted to win everything, and if he wasn’t winning — and the few times in our history growing up when I was bigger or better — it really ticked him off,” John Harbaugh said.  “We have some pictures where you can see the look on his face in the picture. . . .  He’s just mad that he’s shorter or he’s smaller or that he lost a basketball game or he lost a card game.  He would carry it around with him for a while.”

Jim Harbaugh even competed with genetics.  Obsessed with getting to six-feet, two inches, Harbaugh found a magic elixir for growth.

“I heard that if you drink milk that builds strong bones, and convinced myself that I’ll drink as much milk as I possibly can drink,” Jim Harbaugh said.

So as a third grader, Jim Harbaugh said he got a job at his elementary school distributing milk to the students.  The pay was a free milk every day, plus the ability to drink the milk of the kids who weren’t there or who didn’t want their milk.

“I drank a lot of milk, Andrea,” he says.  “A lot of milk.  Whole milk, though.  Not the candy ass two-percent or skim milk.”

It worked.  He made it not to six-two, but to six-feet, three inches.

The competition with anyone and with anything continues.  The press copy of the HBO profile has video and audio of Harbaugh shouting generally at Michigan players in spring practice to “huddle the f–k up” and telling one specific player, “I’m just telling you the right way to do it.  If you want to look at me with that look, go f–king someplace else.”

“Go f–king someplace else” is what the 49ers essentially told Harbaugh in December.  Moving forward, the question becomes whether he’ll hear that phrase or something similar to it from the folks running the show in Ann Arbor.

80 responses to ““Wearing out welcome” isn’t new for Jim Harbaugh

  1. One thing about college, the players turn over fast. Bobby Knight could have never succeeded in the NBA, but his approach worked at the college level. Of course, ADs, assistants, etc are people he will have to maintain relationships with.

    The other thing I take out of this is: What gives with Boone? You “got over the mountain”??? I don’t see a SB ring on your finger…

    I guess I understand the gist of what he’s saying, but as a 49er fan that saw this team *this close* to a SB for 3 straight years that really irks me.

  2. This was a great article and insight into that lunatic. Regardless, I have a lot of respect for anyone who works as hard and is as focused as he is. the HBO show is must see TV. The 49ers are much worse off without the piston in the engine of their recent success. That window has CLOSED!!

  3. patrol: the act of walking or going around or through an area, building, etc., in order to make sure that it is safe : the act of patrolling an area

    So he was walking around Michigan’s sideline in order to make sure it was safe? Right.

  4. Its funny how players today, the ones that cant take discipline and need it the most, are the ones that complain the most when a coach tells them what to do.

    Sounds like a typical loser from Ohio State (Boone).

    Love Harbaugh. Cant wait to see him kick Urban Liar’s butt in a few years. He will turn Michigan around. And no Im not a Michigan fan.

  5. The best thing Harbaugh did for SF was bring Fangio with him. Harbaugh oversaw an offense that never did better than 20th in the league and was continually throwing tantrums on the sidelines because of it. Meanwhile, Fangio kept the defense ranked in the top 5 in the league including last year with injuries and suspensions wrecked the roster.

    Fangio and Donatell gave Harbaugh a winning record.

  6. i told 49ers fan friends he would wear out his welcome after 3 or 4 years, and i’m not kidding. same thing with rex ryan, or buddy ryan for that matter: the rah-rah coaching crap only works for so long on grown men.

  7. I thought that’s what coaches are suppose do to is push you too far. Boone played like crap last year so clearly he needs motivation to step his game up.

  8. In harbaugh defense, Boone holdout and the right side of the offensive line was the major weakness this season for the 49ers. There were a lot of off field distractions and injuries, however management turned on harbaugh without a real plan on replacing him. They hired a popular position coach and surrounded him with coordinators that don’t have impressive resumes. 49ers fans have already been through this with singletary. Letting van gio walk was the real mistake.

  9. A head coach who is a winner gets fired. Sounds like an ego thing to me.

    There are 29 teams out there who would want Harbaugh.

    Minus pats ravens Seahawks.

    Although with all the crying John Harbaugh does and all the stupid calls Pete Caroll makes make that 31 teams.

  10. “I think he just pushed guys too far.  He wanted too much, demanded too much, expected too much.  You know, ‘We gotta go out and do this.  We gotta go out and do this.

    boone is acting like a diva. jims tough coaching is what made the 49ers competitive. boone sounds like an idiot knowing what this team looked like before jim took over.

  11. Somewhere, after millennia of searching, the media might find the perfect coach. A mix of competitiveness (although not too much), compassion (although not too much), and technical (Xs and Os).

    And NO, your guy isn’t it.

  12. I love how a bunch of message board posters are calling professional football players losers and soft. You guys are exceptional.

  13. No, Alex Boone. You did not get over the mountain. You lost a Super Bowl and NFC Championship that went down to the wire, then missed the playoffs after personally turning in a poor, rusty post-holdout performance. May you should have listened a little closer.

  14. You can just imagine, just smell the Raiders ineptitude in the Harbaugh firing/hiring. That franchise is worth $1 billion+, probably CLEARS $100 million a year. All Mark Davis had to do was give Harbaugh the $5 mil/year and he would’ve gotten himself a really good coach and given the 49ers the biggest FU ever. But no, they’re the Raiders.

    Watch this guy Harbaugh succeed — again — at Michigan for five years and then tell me how well Jack Delrio is done in Oakland. Foolish!

  15. “Got over the hump”

    Alex Boone is a turd…

    What hump did the 49’ers get over ????

    They lost a Super Bowl… that is the crowing achievement of the Harbaugh 49’ers era…. congrats on that….

    I’m sure with all the Trophies in the San Francisco Offices, that they are very proud of that Super Bowl loss.

    What an idiot….

    York backed the wrong horse….

    This team is going to go back to its mid 2000 days…

  16. As a Buckeye fan, I’m embarrassed by what Boone says. No one wants to hear you say you’re working too hard, especially when you haven’t won a ring.

  17. I dunno … All he seems to care about is getting paid…hell, like everyone else.. Who cares about collateral damage .. The days of john Wodden are long gone… Ask a Saban a Meyer or a Spurrier

  18. He will wear out his welcome when they don’t win……..That may be a long time, given the quality of coach and drive he has…….Any player out there looking for exposure, winning, moving on to the next level, will sign up with him….

  19. There’s a tipping point where you push people to hard and they get to the point that they believe they will never be good enough for you.

  20. Reminds me of Jon Gruden. Chuckie got a team loaded with talent and underperforming with Tony Dingy and whipped them into Super Bowl. But by the time he was fired all the rumors websites/radio talk shows talked about were how the players hated him or didn’t trust him or tuned him out.

    I guess that style of coaching only lasts so long.

  21. I remember when Tom Coughlin first came to NY, players were initially irked by his no-nonsense, military-discipline style of practice. Years later, after a few rings, I don’t hear anyone complaining anymore.

  22. “We got over the mountain” did we Alex? Did we win a Super Bowl when I wasn’t paying attention? No? Then maybe instead of whining and complaining about how hard he made you work for those millions of dollars, you should have shut up and done what he said.

    If that’s the attitude this organization has, none of the people who work there deserved Harbaugh.

  23. This is exactly why he will be great at Michigan. As long as the AD and University President keep their distance he will have no problems. Players usually start to get annoyed and drown him out around the 4th year. In college he will gave an entirely new roster every 3 or 4 years which us perfect for an in your face coach like him

  24. Didn’t Alex Boone holdout and demand a trade if they couldn’t come to an agreement?

    Sounds like a real team player to me, and one who certainly wouldn’t have a problem working as hard as possible like he said Harbaugh demanded.

  25. he wore out his welcome, he pushed guys to hard. Oh my poor little athletes. My question for Alex Boone is what mountain did you ever make it over?….I guess you can take it easy now , and play in the hills if you like that better.

  26. “Reminds me of Jon Gruden. Chuckie got a team loaded with talent and underperforming with Tony Dingy and whipped them into Super Bowl. ”

    That is the NFL’s personification of right team, right time. Tony would have taken them to a Super Bowl as well BUT Gruden getting to play against his old team was a stroke of pure luck. He knew their weaknesses, he knew their verbiage, HELL, he installed the entire offensive package & hand picked the players. That would have been like Bill Walsh coaching against his 49er teams in the Super Bowl as Walsh was now coaching the Denver Broncos or Buffalo Bills. Just as Walsh would have known exactly how to attack the team & system HE put together. That Tampa-Oakland Super Bowl was a perfect storm for Gruden, he couldn’t have written it better, if it had been a sports movie people would have called it a cheesy predictable ending.

  27. thisonesforpat says:
    Apr 19, 2015 3:27 PM

    You can just imagine, just smell the Raiders ineptitude in the Harbaugh firing/hiring. That franchise is worth $1 billion+, probably CLEARS $100 million a year. All Mark Davis had to do was give Harbaugh the $5 mil/year and he would’ve gotten himself a really good coach and given the 49ers the biggest FU ever. But no, they’re the Raiders.

    Watch this guy Harbaugh succeed — again — at Michigan for five years and then tell me how well Jack Delrio is done in Oakland. Foolish!


    I guess you didn’t read the story about Mark Davis chasing Harbaugh before his flight to Michigan, offering more money and still being turned down.

    This isn’t Al Davis’ team anymore. If you can’t see that by now, you are NOT a football fan.

  28. So Vangio made Harbaugh look good so therefore Jim is not a good head coach? Unreal. Great head coaches surround themselves with a great staff. Jim has proven himself at every stop he’s made. SF tossed a great coach and his staff, they will suffer in the wins and losses.

  29. He’s going to do great at Michigan. However, Urban Meyer will continue to do even better- Urban is a witch.
    And you want to talk about intensity, Meyet might even be more intense than Harbaugh.

  30. John Harbaugh told a story as a part of a larger speech at a Michigan practice on behalf of Jim. He talked about how Jim almost drowned him once, saying he just “snapped,” how he finally went over the edge. Also, talking about the post-Super Bowl handshake, John said Jim stuck out his arm as stiff as he could and said through a gnarled grimace, “there will be no hug!” Haha, Jim’s a funny guy.

  31. It’s funny reading comments bashing Alex Boone about the hump him and the 49ers didn’t get over. Well, guess who the coach was who didn’t get them over the hump?

  32. Funny how everyone calling Harbaugh a big baby when he was a coach in the NFL are now saying how great he was, ain’t it?

  33. Love this guy he’s a total winner. Oh by the way I hope Alex Boone should owe a debt of gratitude to Harbaugh. It was Harbaugh that helped Boone to work to his potential and save him from his addiction to alcohol.

  34. What? did Harbaugh hurt these million dollar a year NFL players?

    Now I see what Chuck Bednarick meant when he called these players a bunch of Nancy’s.

  35. Player’s had problems with Lombardi, Parcells, Shula etc. So if you push players that is a problem..no wonder these teams never win anything.

  36. This Boone guy, if he plays for Chip Kelly, is guaranteed to be cut, released or traded. He sounded lazy to me. Hello, Harbaugh’s job was to push his players to play to their max capacity!!!

  37. I have to laugh at all of the big talkers responding to this article. Sitting on your couch with a beer in your hand, acting like Boone is a wimp. All of you tough guys would quit after the first week if you had to play under caption nutjob. And no, I’m not an OSU fan.

  38. “Brother John Harbaugh, the Ravens head coach who beat Jim’s 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII,”

    That’s kind of a strong assumption, don’t you think? Personally believe Jerome Boger beat the Niners, but I guess you can have your opinion too.

  39. IMO Jim Harbaugh’s ego has always been bigger than his achievements as either a player or coach. Yes a coach can work his players too hard which is why the late Jerry Tarkanian didn’t last in the NBA. He drove his players so hard in regular season practices, they had nothing left during games. I’m not saying that was the case with Harbaugh but it can happen.

    Yes, Tom Coughlin won Super Bowls but that didn’t happen until he started respecting the players as GROWN MEN. For those that saw the America’s Game segment after his first SB victory, Coughlin himself admitted that he should have listened sooner to input from Michael Strahan and other veteran players.

    IMO Tony Dungy’s TB team didn’t underachieve, his mistake was keeping Shawn King as his starting QB. IMO King was the ONLY player that underachieved, everyone else did their jobs. I don’t know if they were true but at that time, I did hear that Dan Marino (the year he retired) was willing to play in TB because he wanted a shot at a SB ring. But Dungy decided to stick with King. If that story was true of Marino’s desire to play for TB, I (as the owner) would have fired him after that season for NOT taking a future HOF QB.

  40. Football is so soft nowadays. It’s a crying shame.

    Alex Boone-

    FYI, you do know that you’ve never won a super bowl, so you really haven’t accomplished anything.

  41. Love Harbaugh. Cant wait to see him kick Urban Liar’s butt in a few years. He will turn Michigan around. And no Im not a Michigan fan.


    Let’s see him do it right away, genius. Why you giving him “a few years”?

  42. He’s a nut job only overshadowed by his brother, Jay. The Michigan fans are the most delusional group of children walking on earth. Every circus act that comes through Ann Arbor is the greatest, will kick everyone’s arse and bring Michigan back to the beginning of the 20th century when they regularly beat high school teams if they would travel to Ann Arbor. The side show continues and gives the fans and alumni of opposing teams comedic relief if they so chose to watch. A great study in vicareous living for thousands of trailer park denzians.

  43. Good coaches are supposed to keep pushing you. The good people in the NFL keep working and pushing or they don’t last. Some of the players must really be divas.

  44. Easily a top 5 NFL coach the 49rs made a huge mistake letting him go. Now at Michigan he’s showing every one he’s a BOSS ” Michigan football will watch American sniper! Proud of Chris Kyle & proud to be an American & if that offends anyone than so be it!” That was his response after the school tried give into a group of students that wher offended by the film. How can you not respect him after that.

  45. Newsflash: Alex Boone…. The 49ers LOST the Super Bowl to Ravens. You can call the Ravens your Daddy.

  46. I think he’s going to be fine for college. As others have noted, the turnover makes it so that even if players have an issue with him, it makes sense to suck it up (I’d point to Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman’s comments about him after leaving Stanford as evidence that, even if players disliked him, more often than not, they sucked it up to make it through). More importantly, if you are winning, players will more often than not, suck it up.

    Thing is, while I think he could make a long term run in college (he probably could’ve stayed at Stanford for at least another 3-4 years simply off of his early success) … I think he’ll get the itch to go back to the pros because of his competitiveness and “unfinished business”. More likely than not, some pro team is going to give him the chance. Based on how San Francisco ended, I think he’ll have to look long and hard at the situations. He wears on athletes, and it’s much easier to get rid of a coach in the pros than it is to get rid of players. I think he’ll need a NFL situation with good personnel, particularly defensively, in place, willing to take his bs to try and get over the top. Easier said than done, as most teams needing coaches have major issues.

  47. “IMO Tony Dungy’s TB team didn’t underachieve, his mistake was keeping Shawn King as his starting QB. ”


    Brad Johnson was the starter in Dungy’s final year.

    I’ll always love Tony Dungy for being the one that turned the Bucs franchise around, but by 2001 he went 9-8 and had totally lost the locker room of very talented team. 9-8 is definitely “underperforming” when you have five potential Hall of Famers (two already in) on defense.

  48. the Niners got pretty damm close to the SB mountain 3 times… all Boone was saying that Harbaugh’s “in your face style” got old…. and all I’m saying is, this upcoming 2015 season for the Niners should be very interesting, it could be a disaster for the franchise and spell it’s demise or…. this year could be a nice surprise for the faithful

    Go Niners

  49. He wore out his welcome at SD State.
    He wore out his welcome at Stanford.
    He wore out his welcome at San Fran.
    He will wear out his welcome at Michigan.

    It will probably be another decade of “almost, but not quite” failure on Harbaugh’s part before the delusional 49er fan-base will finally admit that he was never going to win them the big game. Until then, they’ll continue to bray about “3 NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl!!!”

    This guy has issues. The semi-success creates a situation where people make excuses for them rather than deal with them. It’s like a bad relationship…”this time will be different…”. He is the living definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results.

  50. Ooh, he sounds like a grinder. That would wear anyone out. It’s one thing to be making sure you’re focused and trying your best, but to be a dick all the time isn’t going to make any difference in performance or success.

  51. Yeah, Harbaugh’s a lunatic.

    So is Vince Lombardi, Woody Hayes, and Bobby Knight.

    They all have championships, and messed-up personal lives.

    For the institutions that support them, it’s a two-edged sword.

    Just ask Florida about Urban Meyer.

  52. ReligionIsForIdiots says:
    Apr 19, 2015 5:21 PM

    Alex Boone is a drunk.
    One certainly does have to wonder if he is off the wagon. His level of play certainly fell off dramatically last year.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.