Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the Stanford Cardinals football team. He played for Michigan in college and was a Heisman Hopeful in the 1987 season along with winning the Big Ten Player of the Year and taking his team to the Rose Bowl. Harbaugh went on to be a first round draft selection to the Chicago Bears. After being a Bear for 7 seasons, he went to the Colts where he was a dropped pass away from taking Indianapolis to a Super Bowl. That season he finished runner-up for the MVP. Harbaugh is one of three members of the Stanford football team I interviewed. I interviewed Mr. Harbaugh at Stanford a week ago, thanks to the help of the Stanford Director of Football Operations, Matt Doyle.
Here is our interview:
BW: Besides your playoff run in 1996 [was a dropped pass from taking the Colts to the Super Bowl], what has been the most memorable part of your football career?
JH: Well, unfortunately I am at the age where I've forgotten most of my life, but I have to tell you, last year's season with Stanford there were some very exciting wins with our team. Going down to USC and that big ball game, and then winning against Oregon. To see our team really grow. Toby's [Gerhart] Heisman ceremony was a lot of satisfaction for everybody. You know I'm not the type of guy who lives in the past, I don't think about the good ole days, or things I have regret about. I don't have a whole lot of guilt and I'm always thinking to the future. Planning, saving, and preparing for what's next. And hopefully the best part will be this year, coming up.
BW: What do you remember most about Coach Bo Schembechler as a coach?
JH: So many good things. He was my coach. He was also my dad's boss. So he put a lot of food on the table for Harbaugh family. That is also where I got my foundation, as a football player and as a coach, from my dad and also Bo Schembechler. That's where my roots really were and the foundation for what I know about football was built by Bo Schembechler.
BW: Being back at the Heisman for Toby Gerhart, what memories did that back to you? [Harbaugh was a Heisman Hopeful in 1987. He was at the Heisman with Gerhart]
JH: Just the entire time was just awesome because for Toby to see how hard he worked and everything he had done for our program to be recognized in that way was a tremendous thing for him and his family and also just to see Toby Gerhart, one of our players, up there with a player from Texas [Colt McCoy], a player from Nebraska [Ndamukong Suh], a player from Alabama [Mark Ingram], and a player from Florida [Tim Tebow], and then a guy from Stanford to be on that stage was really neat for all of our players and coaches this year and people who care about Stanford. It was neat to have Stanford back on that stage. [only Heisman winner from Stanford was Jim Plunkett in 1970]
BW: With all the famous coaches in your family, can you tell me what family gatherings are like when your father, brother, and brother-in-law are there? [Father: Jack Harbaugh was a coordinator at Michigan and Stanford and won a NCAA 1-AA Championship in football. Brother: John Harbaugh: Coach of the Baltimore Ravens (his quarterback, Joe Flacco, has a freshman brother at Stanford). Brother-in-law: Tom Crean: Coach of Indiana University Basketball and formerly Marquette taking them to Final Four in 2003 with Dwayne Wade.
]JH: Family gatherings are a lot about talking about sports. Talking football with my brother and my dad and brother-in-law, Tom Crean, a basketball coach, loves to talk football. It's mainly about football and strategy, and a lot about recruiting and different things you use to motivate your team. There is always some team being talking about whether, it is the Baltimore Ravens or the Hoosiers or the Stanford Cardinals.
BW: What was it like coaching with your father and brother during an NFL playoff game?
JH: Well, me and my father weren't really coaching, we were just standing around. My brother was doing the coaching. He was the proud father and I was the proud brother. That is the only way I could describe it. We were so proud of what my brother was doing.
BW: What current quarterback in the NFL or college reminds you of yourself?
JH: That's a good question! I'm probably more like Jake Locker [University of Washington senior quarterback and projected top pick of the upcoming NFL Draft].
BW: So you should be the number one draft pick?
JH: [Cracks up] You always compare yourself pretty favorably.