The Super Bowl – just another football game ruined by the hype and the ads. But not this one, Sunday. This game really intrigues me because it is the Sibling Bowl. The brothers Harbaugh coaching against each other.
If two men ever had football in their blood it would be these guys. Their dad, Jack Harbaugh, head coached at Western Michigan and Western Kentucky. Son John coached running backs and linebackers under his father at Western Michigan for two years.
Father Jack later coached running backs at Stanford under son Jim in 2009.
Tom Crean, now head basketball coach at #3 ranked Indiana, married Joanie Harbaugh, Jack Harbaugh’s daughter, who he met while he was an assistant basketball coach at Western Kentucky.
When Crean was later the head basketball coach at Marquette, Jack Harbaugh was assistant athletic director there.
The most intriguing thing for me about the Harbaugh brothers is the gutsiness and flexibility they have shown late in the season. John Harbaugh of Baltimore fired Cam Cameron, his offensive coordinator, late in the season when Baltimore had to win out to go to the playoffs. Cameron was disliked by the players, and the leaders on the offense felt he could not give them a winning game plan.
Harbaugh replaced him with Jim Caldwell who had been fired last year as the head coach at Indianapolis. It worked for Baltimore.
Jim Harbaugh at San Francisco had the best quarterback in the NFL – statistically – in Alex Smith. But when Smith was sidelined by a concussion he brought in second year man, Colin Kaepernick, who he had pushed the team to draft in the second round out of Nevada the previous year.
Smith was deemed healthy enough to play after sitting out two games, but Harbaugh liked what he had in the mobile option quarterback, Kaepernick, and played him the rest of the season, right into the Super Bowl.
Most coaches in the conservative NFL would not have made those controversial moves, because if they did not work, they would have been pilloried in the press and scapegoated by their bosses, but the Harbaughs took the risks, following the football instincts of a lifetime in the game.
This is a talent that business people often find beyond their reach. We tend to stick with the mediocre hand that we are dealt because inertia is hard to buck. Safety is more appealing than risk.
So hail to the Harbaughs – father and sons. This will be your day. Will the brothers who share similar DNA be able to somehow surprise one another?
Question: Is nepotism good?