John Mara should get a head start on the process, and start making ends towards getting Jim Harbaugh to be the next New York Giants Head Coach, immediately.
I’ve mostly kept quiet on potential head coaching replacements for Pat Shurmur, and let other contributors here at HQ float the possibilities. However, ever since it’s become clear that Pat Shurmur is not the man to lead the New York Giants out of the current state of flux, I’ve had one name on my mind the entire time — Jim Harbaugh.
As little as a year ago, this should have been (correctly) labeled a pipe-dream. A lot can happen over the course of a year, and if you’ve been following Michigan football in that time span that’s a friendly way of describing what’s transpired. While I can’t begin to pretend to know the thought process currently going on in Jim Harbaugh’s head, it seems to me that his time of bringing Michigan back to elite status has come and gone, and from what I know about him, he should be eager to take on a new challenge.
A ‘challenge’ would be another friendly way of describing taking over the New York Giants at this moment, but Harbaugh has never been a guy that seems to back down from one. The former coach’s son and NFL QB seems to have an affinity for the few legendary franchises that still exist in the NFL, and even the biggest Giants hater would have to admit Big Blue falls into that category. While examining the potential litter of available replacements (and although I’m not super well-versed on the college buyout structure, let’s not kid ourselves and act like any college coach isn’t ever totally available), you’d be hard-pressed to find a single candidate that possesses the resume and acumen that Harbaugh brings to the table.
This franchise has tried the savvy ‘offensive mind’ route, and it’s failed miserably. The main thing Jim Harbaugh brings to the table is the proven ability to be able to master everything that comes with becoming a head coach. Part of being a successful leader in any industry is recognizing that even though you may (sometimes rightly) feel like you’re the smartest person in the room, you cant accomplish everything yourself, and as such you need to delegate responsibilities to trusted confidants while closely monitoring the process and progress.
Harbaugh has done that throughout his coaching career, particularly during his time in the NFL. I’m not buying that it’s some coincidence that a monster defense has followed the supposed ‘offensive’ mind everywhere he’s gone, as (outside of Michigan) the staple of Harbaugh’s teams has been balance. Pat Shurmur could learn a thing or two (and a million things in general) in terms of delegating responsibilities from Harbaugh, as he’s totally overextended himself in his time as the Giants head man.
I’ll spare you an in-depth look at his entire coaching career, but here are a few facts. Harbaugh took over a desolate University of San Diego program and went 11-1 in both of his final two seasons (out of three total) on the job. He then went to an irrelevant (at the time) Stanford program and brought them back from the depths of the Pac-12 to national contender (beating #1 USC in his first season despite being totally over-matched). Next, he jumped to the NFL and took a San Francisco 49ers team – that hadn’t made the playoffs, or even had a winning season in a decade – to three NFC title games (and a Super Bowl) in four years on the job. While I’m a firm believer in the ‘if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle’ mindset, if Kyle Williams found a way to hang onto even just one punt, it would be two Super Bowl appearances in four years (although we’re all surely glad that wasn’t the case).
Alex Smith was a mediocre, NFL bust before Harbaugh figured out how to coax highly-effective play out of him in just month’s time in their initial 13-3 campaign. He then had the foresight to switch to the unproven Colin Kaepernick when everything seemed to be going perfect, only to tap into a new level of potential in his team’s offense.
While his time at Michigan can’t simply be ignored, you’d be wrong if you argued that if he left tomorrow the program would be in anywhere near as worse a state as when he took it over. I can’t give a solid answer as to why he hasn’t been able to get over the Ohio State hump, but to me that’s small potatoes when weighing everything else out in his career. The NFL isn’t the Big Ten, and he took over a program that has a much-higher perception of itself than it’s shown it deserves over the last couple decades.
Who better to oversee the development of Daniel Jones than the guy that developed Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, and got things out of Alex Smith that no one else could, prior? People seem to somehow forget that Harbaugh has a 69.5 career NFL wining percentage, with a 5-3 record in the playoffs. Much more often than not, it seems as though Harbaugh possessed a major coaching advantage over his opposition – sometimes it really is just is as simple as that.
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Again, I will not lie to you all and say that I’m totally well-versed on how college buy-outs truly go down, but even if the number is as high as the 17-million dollars many have thrown around, that’s minuscule for a team that has a four-billion dollar valuation (and $142M yearly net income), and threw more than double that at just one season of Odell Beckham Jr. to not even be on this team (along with $40M total dead cap in 2019). I also don’t see how that number could possibly be that high when that’s more than he’s even owed for the duration of his contract that expires in 2021.
This once proud franchise needs a serious injection of positively, shrewdness and leadership, and I fail to see anyone else that can bring all of these things to the table.
Unless Ohio State suddenly becomes an NFC East team, I truly do not see a potential candidate that comes close to rivaling Jim Harbaugh.
John Mara needs to pull out all the stops to make it happen.