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Is Jim Harbaugh in play for head coach at Texas?

It's well known that Jim Harbaugh isn't happy with 49ers ownership. And the planted mentions of him in the media aren't coincidence. Is he a Hail Mary possibility at Texas?

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This may all prove to be a moot point, but some interesting stuff has been bubbling up in the media and the rumor mills - both in Austin and San Francisco - about Jim Harbaugh. And I want to address it, since I may be one of the few people with some perspective on each camp.

Whether through a very recent Hail Mary barrage of planted reports in the media expressing interest in Texas through personalities as disparate as college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit - who mentions Harbaugh for Texas in every radio and television interview he does and, most recently, Peter King's MMQB column (actually penned by Trotter; SMQB is essentially the conduit for various agents, GMs, and coaches), and given the more or less common knowledge of the tension between Harbaugh and young 49ers team president Jed York (scion of the York-DeBartolo clan) and GM Trent Baalke in San Francisco - including Harbaugh puzzlingly turning down a two year extension to his contract - it's pretty plain that Jim Harbaugh is currently receptive to different employment options.

Including the job at Texas.

If it sounds insane for a highly respected NFL coach with an elite young team to even consider moving because he's unhappy with his surroundings, then you don't know Jim Harbaugh very well. There's walking to the beat of your own drummer and then there's pushing the drummer down, smashing his drums, and walking off of the road.

While the prevailing wisdom is that the feelers from his camp may be too little, too late, for the Texas job and our current sights are fixed on the bulletproof hire of Nick Saban (and the appeal of a potential rapid transition instead of waiting out a NFL season and playoffs run) it's an option at least worth discussing.

At least it will be here. Because Jim Harbaugh is my dream candidate for head coach at Texas.

A few quick reasons.

1. Here's a bit of background on Harbaugh's history. He's the rare NFL pedigree guy who decided to bootstrap it on his own instead of bide his time in the established channels in the NFL good 'ol boy network. His confidence was such that he felt he could elevate himself through sheer force of will and competence. And did. If you don't respect that, I've got nothing for you.

2. Stanford recruited well under Harbaugh - not just in terms of rankings, but with respect to development. He's also a national recruiter with a strong working knowledge of California. You know, that big state that's easy pickings and has provided the Longhorns with as many Heisman winners as the state of Texas. And he has already proven his bona fides in Texas with players like Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor.

3. Harbaugh teams are incredibly physical, generally angry, have a solid attention to detail, and play with a chip on their shoulder. Complacency is not a word in his vocabulary. With respect to program energy, he makes Nick Saban look like Wade Phillips. He is a walking cure to the Texas disease.

4. He's 49 years old. That's the sweet spot between experience, time-testededness (is this a word?), open-mindedness, and vigor.

Character/Fun/Longhorn Fittedness

5. He's clean. And a bit of straight arrow. Such that he has even tweaked his own alma mater for it's alternate degree programs that it uses to keep marginal students in school at Michigan. Grades and not cheating mean something to him.

6. His team motto at Stanford was "Win with character, win with cruelty." Possibly the greatest motto ever? When a sideline reporter asked him why Stanford was pummeling Cal so convincingly during the halftime locker room trot, he said "Well, we're playing the way I want."

She asked, "How's that, Coach Harbaugh?"


The legend is that the network truck pulled the quote on delay because it seemed too combative.

7. When Pete Carroll asked Harbaugh what his deal was after Stanford blew out USC and went for two late, Harbaugh did not tell him his deal. He calmly asked Pete what his deal was. Straight from the "I know you are but what am I?" school of quippery. This birthed the best Stanford season ticket marketing campaign I've ever seen - WHAT'S YOUR DEAL?

8. He's maniacally competitive, benches starters who show complacency, purposefully picks fights with everyone to create an edge (he would pick a fight with Sumlin, Stoops, and Briles within the first three weeks on the job while mocking the SEC as a general concept of humanity and actual entity), and during press conferences he's all but gnawing on the podium, tortured that he's not with his players or watching film. Watching him answer stupid questions at a 49ers post-game is one of my life's small joys.

9. He's an absolute asshole in the best, most amusing sense of the word. Uncompromising, indifferent to hierarchies, contemptuous of phonies. When a Stanford alum approached him and chided him for repeatedly calling his brand of football "blue collar" at a booster function as it didn't jibe with the Stanford brand, I'm told Harbaugh took it in while gnawing on increasingly large pieces of sandwich off of the donor's plate, looked at the lecture-some donor and said,"Hey, you're gonna be OK." He was dismissed with a helpful shoulder pat.

10. He was on Saved By The Bell. As Screech's cousin. That crushes any other coaching or player cameo ever (2nd place: any Harlem Globetrotters appearance on Love Boat "Hey, we just tryin' to find a game, Gopher, you think you can help us on the Lido deck?")

11. His players adore him, his opponents despise him, and his staff weathers him a like a passing tornado.

That work for you?


If the Saban train runs out of track, my advice is to go all in on Jim. He's listening.