Harbowl 2013: Baltimore Got the Better Harbaugh
Harbowl 2013: John Harbaugh > Jim Harbaugh
The talk leading up to the Super Bowl, or the Harbowl as it’s now known, has been all about the Harbaugh brothers, the first brothers to coach against each other in the NFL’s biggest game.
With all due respect to Jim, I’ve been saying Baltimore has the better Harbaugh for years, before Jim even started coaching in the NFL.
John Harbaugh made the unlikely jump from Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary coach to Baltimore Ravens’ head coach – arguably one of the better head coaching jobs in the league – and has taken the team to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons.
Jim has done a similarly impressive job in three years with San Francisco, but if you watched him when he was coaching college football, you already know what the rest of the nation is just now finding out: Jim Harbaugh is just a little bit nuts.
Both have had incredible success early in their NFL head coaching careers. They can both get pretty fired up, but John’s intensity seems to flare up only when necessary, while Jim is constantly on the verge of an explosion (see: NFC Championship sideline temper tantrum).
Jim had the better playing career, while John didn’t play in the NFL and barely saw the field in college – but that just gave John the edge in preparing for his future as one of the league’s best coaches.
John took the job with the Ravens when the team needed a leader, when the egos in the locker room were keeping the team from truly being one unit. He came in, laid down the law, and turned a roster full of Pro Bowlers and future Hall of Famers into a unified squad now headed back to the Super Bowl – not an easy feat.
Jim got his team there, too, and he deserves kudos for it, but win or lose on Sunday night, I’d still rather have John Harbaugh as my coach.
Full Disclosure: I'm a Ravens fan and a USC Trojans fan, so I'm biased, but I thought John > Jim before they ever coached against one another. Click through to find out why.
John Harbaugh Can Rock a Suit
This is not, by any means, a prerequisite for being a good coach, but when you're trying to choose between two excellent coaches who look fairly similar, the edge has to go to the one who's better dressed. John Harbaugh arrived in New Orleans this week looking sharp, dapper, and professional. I'm just saying, that suit would not look out of place at the White House, which is where he'll end up in a few months if he outcoaches baby bro this weekend.
John Harbaugh is Better Looking
The Harbrothers do look fairly similar, but John, while slightly older, is still better-looking. He just looks friendly, cheerful, compassionate, and definitely less likely to snap your head off without warning.
This is Jim Harbaugh's Happy Face
Hey, Jim, you won the NFC and you're going to the Super Bowl! Look happy!
This is my happy face.
John > Jim because John knows how to lighten up a smidge and just enjoy the moment.
John Harbaugh is Gracious in Victory and Defeat
John Harbaugh might get fired up during games, use some not-FCC approved language on network TV, trail the refs down the sidelines, screaming all the way, but win or lose, he's a professional. He doesn't gloat when the Ravens win, and he doesn't pout after a loss. After Baltimore beat New England to win the AFC title, Harbaugh spent several moments with his arm around Patriots' coach Bill Belichick, talking quitely. It was a nice moment between coaches (and for the record, I don't believe Harbaugh has ever dodged the media after a tough loss).
Jim Harbaugh's Handshakes Cause Mob Scenes
Jim Harbaugh isn't always the most gracious guy on the field. After a win over the Detroit Lions in 2011, he started a near-riot with his "overzealous" handshake with Lions' coach Jim Schwartz. In a rush to celebrate with his team, Harbaugh slapped Schwartz the wrong way, and Schwartz ran down the field berating him. It's fine to be excited when you win, but there's a time and a place. When you're greeting the losing coach, it's time for sportsmanship, not jubilant celebration.
It's Not Easy Wrangling Egos Like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and T-Sizzle, but John Did It
It's a tough assignment, figuring out how to get a locker room of over-sized personalities to buy into a new philosophy and put the team first and foremost. That's what John Harbaugh had to do in Baltimore, and he has. From winning over larger-than-life figures like Lewis, Reed, and Suggs, to developing young players like Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Torrey Smith, Harbaugh has created a strong, Super Bowl-bound team.
John is the Consummate Coach, While Jim Harbaugh is Still a Player at Heart
There's an old adage: "Those who can't do, teach."
Jim Harbaugh was an excellent quarterback at Michigan who had a 15-year career in the NFL. John, on the other hand, was a backup defensive back at Miami of Ohio.
When scouting Colin Kaepernick, Harbaugh reportedly got into a throwing competition with the young quarterback who will lead the 49ers in the Super Bowl. He throws the ball on the sidelines in warm-ups just like the players, and sometimes, during games, he looks like he's straining against every fiber in his being not to run right into the middle of the huddle.
Those who can't do, teach. Jim did. John has always been a coach first.
John Harbaugh is Goofy and Fun-loving
During the Harbaugh parents' media call, John called in to ask Jack and Jackie Harbaugh which son was their favorite (they recognized their first-born's voice pretty quickly).
Jim Harbaugh might have a similar sense of humor, but he doesn't necessarily have the same sense of adventure that his big brother does. A Catholic Review article from 2008 recounts a time in grade school when John climbed to the top of the bell-tower - twice. The first time was to prove he could do it, the second time was to retrieve Jim, who tried to do everything John did but realized a little too late that he was afraid of heights.
I'd rather have the daring coach who went to the playoffs in his first five seasons than the former player who got stuck at the top of the bell tower. But maybe that's just me.
Jim Harbaugh Might Be A Bit Crazy
Jim Harbaugh might be crazy. Or maybe he just acts like it. He comes from a good family, had a great playing career, is enjoying lots of success as a coach, but even in post-game press conferences when his team just won, the dude often just looks nuts.
Jim Harbaugh Used to Coach at Stanford
Jim Harbaugh might seem a little crazy, but he did coach at Stanford, and their tree mascot would be certifiably insane if it was human and such terms applied to it. See the eyes on that tree? Jim Harbaugh's eyes have looked like that before. Scary, huh?
There are No Borderline Inappropriate Photos of John Harbaugh and Andrew Luck
Finally, and most importantly, John Harbaugh is, and always will be, the better Harbrother, because he has never been photographed in borderline compromising positions with Andrew Luck - or any other player, as far as I'm aware. The Jim Harbaugh - Andrew Luck lovefest, on the other hand, has been well-documented.