John and Jim Harbaugh: How did they get here?
Posted by: Chris Vannini on January 21, 2013
It has been a long road back to each other for John and Jim Harbaugh.
I'm sure you haven't heard that the pair of brothers will face off in the Super Bowl in two weeks. The Har-bowl, most are calling it.
But how did they get here?
The two Harbaughs grew up in a football family under their father, longtime college head coach Jack Harbaugh. Before they face off for the biggest prize in football, let's look back on the sons' similar, yet different paths to New Orleans.
Jim Harbaugh - The younger brother was born in Toledo in 1963. When Jack was an assistant at Michigan, Jim attended high school in Ann Arbor. When Jack moved to Stanford to be a defensive coordinator, Jim finished up high school in Palo Alto. But he returned to Ann Arbor, earning Big Ten Player of the Year Honors as a three-year starter at quarterback for the Wolverines.
Jim was drafted No. 26 overall in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played seven years in Chicago with varying success and ended up signing with the Indianapolis Colts in 1994. In the 1995 season, the Colts reached the AFC Championship game with Jim as the starter and were a dropped Hail Mary from reaching the Super Bowl. He played one more year with the Colts, following by two with the San Diego Chargers. In 2001, he was cut by the Detroit Lions and finished his career on the bench with the Carolina Panthers.
As for his coaching career, it has been a quick rise. From 1994-2001, Harbaugh had worked as an unpaid assistant for his dad at Western Kentucky while continuing to play in the NFL. After his playing career ended, he became an offensive assistant with the Oakland Raiders from 2002-03, reaching the Super Bowl in the 2002 season. He returned to college as head coach at San Diego from 2004-06. In those three seasons, he posted records of 7-4, 11-1 and 11-1, and Stanford came calling.
After going 4-8 in 2007 and 5-7 in 2008, the Cardinal went 8-5 in 2009, their first bowl since 2001. In 2010, Stanford went 12-1 with an Orange Bowl and he moved up the road to the San Francisco 49ers. In two seasons, the Niners have reached the NFC Championship Game and now the Super Bowl.
John Harbaugh - One year older than Jim, John graduated high school in Ann Arbor and went on to play defensive back at Miami (Ohio). There was no professional career for John, who went right into coaching as running backs coach and outside linebackers coach for his dad at Western Michigan. Jack went on to Pittsburgh as an assistant in 1987-88, and John joined him that first year as tight ends coach.
John moved on to Morehead State as the defensive backs / special teams coach in 1988 and then went to Cincinnati, where he was the special teams coordinator from 1989-96.
After spending 1997 as the defensive backs / special teams coach for Indiana, John moved up to the NFL, where he has been since. He spent nine seasons as the special teams coordinator under Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles, earning Special Teams Coach of the Year in 2001 and reaching the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. Looking to become more qualified for a head coaching job, John was given the defensive backs job by Reid in 2007. The following year, he earned the head coaching job with the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens have made the playoffs all five years under John, reaching the AFC Championship Game three times. This will be his first Super Bowl as head coach.
You're going to read and hear a ton of stories in the next two weeks about the brothers in the Super Bowl, but that's because it truly is incredible.
Jack obviously is proud. The brothers started together, but diverged on different paths in their careers. They've coached against each other once before, with John defeating Jim 16-6 on Thanksgiving Day 2011.
Now they'll be back together on the biggest stage in American sports.
Below is John discussing Jim at a press conference prior to the 2011 scouting combine.
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com