Currently in the NFL, the best rivalry is arguably between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are in the AFC North and are always in the conversation as a Super Bowl contender. One other thing that these two teams have in common is that they have great head coaches.
Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh have brought success to the Steelers and Ravens respectively over the past six years.
Since becoming head coach in 2007, Tomlin has led the Steelers to three division titles, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl victory. In Harbaugh’s five seasons in Baltimore, the Ravens have two division crowns and he has the distinct honor of calling his team reigning champions.
Looking at who has the edge in head-to-head competition, Tomlin has won seven of the 12 battles. However, the winning percentages of both coaches are very similar. Harbaugh’s record as head coach is 63-30 (.667), while Tomlin’s 68-36 record leaves him with a winning percentage of .654.
A legitimate argument can be made for either Tomlin or Harbaugh to say who the better coach is. The same can be said in determining who will have the better overall head coaching career. According to a poll done by SportsNation, when asking who will have the better coaching career, out of 16,450 voters, 54 percent said that Tomlin would. Harbaugh received 41 percent of the votes, while the remaining five percent was undecided.
If you ask me, I would have to agree with the majority on this one. As mentioned earlier, Tomlin has already coached his team to two Super Bowl appearances in his first six years in Pittsburgh. Even after a disappointing, injury-filled 8-8 season in 2012, and despite an aging defense, Tomlin will still find a way to motivate his team to be one of the best in the league.
Furthermore, looking at the coaching history of the Steelers dating back to the 1970s, they have always found a coach worth keeping for the long-term that will keep them playing at a championship level. If the Steelers organization didn’t think Tomlin could do this, he wouldn’t be in the Steel City in the first place.
As for Harbaugh, I do believe that he too will be a successful head coach once it’s all said and done. However, after comparing the Steelers and the Ravens in the long run, I have to say that Harbaugh will be in for a bit of a struggle in the next two to three years.
Even though Baltimore has a potent offense with one of the biggest rising stars at quarterback, their defense has taken major steps backwards this offseason and probably won’t be as successful as they were in 2012.
The Ravens lost future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to retirement and free agency respectively. Furthermore, Baltimore parted with several other defensive players due to free agency as well.
Overall, Tomlin and Harbaugh are considered two of the best coaches in the game today, and the same will be said of them in the future. However, when it comes down to it, the history of the Steelers and the current status of Pittsburgh’s franchise is the reason why Tomlin will end up with a more prosperous coaching career.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+