Sometimes it amazes me the amount of hype a person gets in sports in such a short time. It’s like a person could be nonexistent one day and the center of every sports rumor or show the next. It’s just baffling how quickly someone’s stock can rise. Such is the case of Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh, who, if speculation can be deemed correct, will soon be bringing his talents to the NFL at a team near you.
If your not a college football fan and the name Harbaugh seems familiar to you, then it’s either one of two things; you’re either referring to Jim’s brother John Harbaugh, who is the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens or your remembering Jim’s playing days from the NFL. Jim Harbaugh was a somewhat successful quarterback in the NFL for 14 years.
Drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft by the Chicago Bears, Harbaugh would be their starter for 7 years before becoming the starter in Indianapolis in 1994. He remained with the Colts from ’94 to ’97 and had his most success as a pro there. ’95 was a career year for Harbaugh, who led his Colts to the AFC Championship game and was one dropped ball away from upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers and taking Indy to their first SuperBowl since 1970. For his efforts that year he was named to the Pro Bowl, was named AFC Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and came in second in the NFL MVP voting.
In 1998, Harbaugh was traded to the Baltimore Ravens where he would split starting time with Eric Zeier. He would spend one year with the Ravens before heading to San Diego, where he quarterbacked for effectively the final two years of his career. After his stint with the Chargers, Harbaugh would sign with the Detroit Lions only to be cut before the start of the season. He then signed with the Carolina Panthers but only suited up for six games with no playing time before announcing his retirement.
Armed with a boatload of NFL experience, Harbaugh then turned his sights fully to coaching where he had been dabbling during his playing career as an unpaid assistant coach to his father Jack at Western Kentucky University. Harbaugh got his first head coaching break in 2004 with the University of San Diego Toreros. He coached them through three seasons and amassed a 29-6 record over that span before accepting an offer to coach Stanford in 2007.
Though his overall record at Stanford between ’07 and now isn’t very impressive at first glance at 29-21, he has managed to turn around a fledgling Stanford program into a talked about national powerhouse. With Stanford’s 40-12 pounding of Virginia Tech in this years Orange Bowl, Harbaugh has basically wrote his own ticket to any open coaching job at any level he wants.
The rumors have been swirling heavily over the past few days about where Harbaugh will end up. It is widely thought that he will jump ship to the NFL to compete against his brother on the biggest stage in football. Teams like the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco Chargers and Oakland Raiders are all destinations that have been swirling around the rumor mill for Harbaugh; though it should be noted that the Carolina Panthers have an opening at head coach as well as the number 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. A draft that could feature Stanford quarterback phenom Andrew Luck as the consensus top player coming out of college.
Wherever he ends up, Jim Harbaugh will look to continue his coaching dominance and earn a name for himself as a coach that will transcend anything he ever did as a player and we, as sports fanatics, will be there to witness his every step in this journey.