This year’s Super Bowl features a coaching matchup that’s a first in NFL history–the two teams’ head coaches are brothers, just over a year apart in age. Jim Harbaugh‘s San Francisco 49ers are NFC champs in just his second year in the league while John Harbaugh‘s Baltimore Ravens finally got past the New England Patriots in his fifth season to take the AFC crown. However, as epic as this HarBowl matchup may be, it’s nothing compared to what almost was in the Pac-12 when Stanford was headed by Jim and UCLA almost hired John.
Jim took over the reins at Stanford in 2007 and made the Cardinal nationally relevant again in football. At the end of that season, John was a finalist for the UCLA head coaching job, but ended up signing with the Ravens instead after the Bruins chose Jeff Jagodzinski for the job.
Can you imagine the added intensity to the Stanford-UCLA rivalry in the Pac-12 had John been hired at UCLA? It’s one thing for these two brothers to meet once every blue moon in the NFL and then once in the Super Bowl, but it’s another for them to play in an annual rivalry game. Instances like the one this past would have been especially drama-filled. UCLA and Stanford played in consecutive weeks, once in the regular season finale and then for a trip to the Rose Bowl in the Pac-12 title game.
Of course, the fact Jim and John are the first two brothers to coach against each other in the Super Bowl is incredible and will probably never happen again unless these same two teams meet again in the near future. However, college football fans are a different breed and they would have fed off the energy stemming from an all-Harbaugh matchup every year in the Pac-12. Oh well, it’s now just another “what if?” situation that’s fun to ponder.