The UM Coaches Clinic Harbaugh Family Session: Jack, John and Jim all discussed what it takes to be a successful coach. Between the three of them, they have 316 wins as head coaches at all levels and they have won high school, college and NFL conference championships, national college championships and even a Super Bowl. (What follows are brief bios of all three feel free to skip this if you already know the history.)
Jack- He lettered in three sports in HS in Ohio, football, basketball and baseball. He was HS All State at QB and shortstop. He played college football (DB and QB) and baseball for Bowling Green from 1957 to 1960, where he was a three-time letter man. In his junior year, the Falcons finished the season 9–0 and were named the small college division national champions. Harbaugh played professionally for one season, 1961, in the old AFL for the New York Titans.
He coached HS football In Ohio from 1964 to 1968 in Perrysburg, Eaton and Xenia, Ohio. John and Jim were born while he was coaching at Perrysburg.
He was an assistant at Morehead State, Bowling Green, and Iowa before becoming an assistant under Bo as the DB coach. UM was conference champs five of the 7 seasons he coached with Bo. He was DC at Stanford then head coach at Western Michigan followed by one season as an assistant at Pitt before taking over as head coach at Western Kentucky in 1989 where he went on to win the 1AA national championship in 2002. He later did stints as an assistant (RB) with Jim at SD and Stanford.
John- He graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer and Miami of Ohio. Coached with his dad, Jack at Pitt and Western Michigan before becoming a special teams and DB coach at Morehead, Cincinnati, Indiana and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was named the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 and beat his brother Jim for the Super Bowl championship in 2012.
John worked as an assistant at Indiana under former UM QB coach Cam Cameron before eventually turning it around by hiring him as OC for the Ravens. Cameron coached Jim Harbaugh at UM as well as Elvis Grbac and Todd Collins. Cameron is now OC and QB coach LSU with one time UM assistant Les Miles. John's one time Ravens DC Greg Mattison coached with his father Jack at Western Michigan eventually returning to coach defense at UM under Brady Hoke with whom he coached at UM under Bo.
Jim- Was a successful QB at UM under Bo including All Big Ten and 3rd in the Heisman after his senior year. He was drafted by the Bears in first round. Made the Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback player of the year with Indianapolis in 1995. He finished his NFL career acid a back up with Baltimore San Diego and the Carolina Panthers. After a year as an NFL QB coach for the Oakland Raider, he moved on to become a successful head college coach at San Diego University and then at Stanford before jumping to a head coaching position in the NFL leading the resurgent 49's to the Super Bowl only to lose to his brother John's Baltimore Ravens. He coached with his father Jack at Western Kentucky as an unpaid assistant while still playing during his last 8 seasons in the NFL until 2001. He helped to recruit and coach the players that won the 1AA championship for Jack in 2002.
Jack had us start out by having all the coaches yell “Who has it better than us...NOBODY!”
Jim pointed out that Michigan was thinking about how to bring the different levels of coaching more together. There should be an effort to break down the barriers. John pointed out that there is tremendous creativity at the HS level so why not get the best most creative HS school coaches up to college or the NFL since the qualifications needed are the same at all three levels.
1) Love the game
2) Love coaching
3) Have a positive track record of success
Many proven high school coaches cannot come in to college coaching at grad assistant level. They are usually older with families and need a better income but you can bring them in as administrative staff. They can prove themselves in competition with other assistants for position coach roles. (e.g. Partridge).
Jack notes that high school coaches must work with whoever walks through the door. Many have to teaching obligations as well. To be creative and successful at these multiple roles speaks to capability at any level of coaching.
Jack notes that a good coach must have three attributes:
1) A good coach must have passion and a love of the game.
2) A good coach had better be smarter than all his competitors since most are not you have to work harder than than anyone else.
3) A good coach must marry wisely. (Your wife must understand how involved you must be to be successful.)
Jackie (Jacks wife and John and Jim's mom was in the crowd)- “I wanted the kids to know what dad was doing so I brought them to practice.”
John- Coaches kids should be welcome at practice including daughters. He recounts story of his pre-teen daughter whispering into his ear before the Super Bowl. “Dad, we can do this!”
John has day care helpers at Saturday practice and players are encouraged to bring their kids if they wish.
Jim- As a coach you have to plan.
1) You have to build the team. You have to make it special. You have to make the players proud to be part of it.
2) You have to know the rules, of the game, of the conference, of the league better than anyone.
3) You have to hire a staff that reflects the most important values of good coaching. They must be motivators, passionate, engaged, positive, creative, no excuses, never angry or frustrated. If we can't fix it, it must not be broken since we can fix anything.
How do you deal with pressure from the fans, parents and boosters?
Work hard to do the job not keep the job. Coaches compete just like players with and against each other. Any problem is an opportunity. Ask why not? (Know the rules!)
A high school coach can set the tone for the entire school. Be the man. It will be noticed if you build character among the players. If your players are taking care of business in school as well as on the field it will be noticed.
Every parent wants the 10 best players on the field and their kid. Remind the parents that football offers more scholarships than any other college sport since the teams are larger. Talk to the moms not just the dads. Talk to them about how it can make college affordable. Talk to them about head injuries and coach the kids to avoid them and practice in such a way as to avoid them. To be successful in high school you must recruit the kids who are athletes to play. (John and Jim actually do a role play at this point with John trying to convince Jim to come out for the team.)
As a coach, your positives to negatives should be 9 to 1 in everything. Every conversation may be the most important one of the day.