The Harbaugh-Meyer Rivalry Has Begun
A rivalry between two terrific coaches in the Big Ten has already begun. As a matter of fact, there are some similarities between the two men. For example, both Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer were born in Toledo, Ohio, and just seven months separate them in age. Jim is 51 and Urban is 50 years of age. They played collegiate football and have been head coaches at Division 1 schools - Jim for six years and Urban for 13. And, they are married, have children and of the Roman Catholic faith.
There are some differences between the two men, some of which are significant. For instance, although the two men played collegiate football, Jim Harbaugh was the starting quarterback for a major football powerhouse under Bo Schembechler. This collegiate All-American, was a first round draft choice in the NFL; quarterbacked his team in big games over a 13 year span.
This same man coached in college as a head coach for the University of San Diego [2004-2006] and Stanford University [2007-2010]. Harbaugh also coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. In other words, this man has been involved in big time football since 1983 through present or 21 years. He started out in the Big Ten under the solid foundation of a traditional offensive minded Bo and has returned to the Big Ten.
Coach Harbaugh’s NFL playing career included the Chicago Bears; the Indianapolis Colts; the Baltimore Ravens; the San Diego Chargers; the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Jim also was with the Oakland Raiders as an assistant coach under Bill Callahan. While with the San Francisco 49ers, he traded Alex Smith [Alex Smith played for Urban Meyer at Utah] and inserted Colin Kaepernick as a starting quarterback.
It’s no wonder that Jim Harbaugh is assembling a coaching staff filled with individuals who have NFL experience. Harbaugh himself has been exposed to many outstanding NFL coaching minds and that likely has contributed to his success as a coach, both in college and in the NFL. In four years with the Niners, his team had three NFC championships, and played in one Super Bowl.
The other highly successful college coach is none other than Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Although Meyer was not the super athlete as Jim Harbaugh, he paid his dues. He was a high school position coach for one year; and from 1986- 2000, Meyer was a position coach in college, working mainly with the offense. He learned from numerous college coaches and he didn’t stay too long with one school. [His longest tenure was 5 years at Colorado State and 4 years at Notre Dame].
In 2001, Meyer became head coach at Bowling Green, and has never looked back. He has amassed 141 victories and only 26 defeats [Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State]. More impressively he attained two national championships with Florida, and one most recently at Ohio State. He is currently the winningest college coach, in football. And his Heisman winner Tim Tebow, master of the spread offense, was the catalyst for all those Florida victories.
Traditionally, more college coaches windup coaching in the NFL. Generally, an NFL coach does not return to the college level, as head coach. Recently, Nick Saban, an exception, of the Crimson Tide left the Miami Dolphins to return to the college level. Saban won a national championship at LSU and 3 at Alabama. In order to reach the college championship game in 2015, Meyer’s Buckeyes whipped Saban’s Crimson Tide with a third string spread offense quarterback.
This new rivalry Harbaugh versus Meyer might either equal or surpass the Schembechler- Hayes 10 Year War. Time will tell. However, Harbaugh has been successful wherever he’s been and more than likely that will continue. No doubt the press will come up with something snappy to highlight this new rivalry. In fact, Meyer refers to Michigan as the team up North. College football, being what it is, will profit greatly.
Good luck men. I know your engines have already started. In the meantime, Go Blue Go!