Friday, January 07, 2011

NFL Falls Over Itself to Hire Coach With 0-0 Record


That's what all 12 NFL playoff teams are right now. Just ask Bill Belichick, who would know, since his playoff record is the stuff of legend.

That's not why 0-0 is in the news this week.

Instead, we present the story of Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh has accomplished great things at Stanford. Last year, the Cardinal got back into the postseason for the first time under his leadership, running back Toby Gerhart was invited to New York as a Heisman finalist, and young quarterback Andrew Luck took advantage of Gerhart's prowess to gain a ton of valuable experience and grow into the role.

This year, Luck was amazing, hitting over 70 percent of his passes and leading Stanford to a BCS bowl game for the first time in over a decade. Harbaugh has done a superb job rebuilding the talent base, and presenting that program with an opportunity to win at an elite level.

Michigan -- Harbaugh's alma mater -- has fired their coach. Efforts to hire Harbaugh have been futile so far, but you never know. The NFL has also come knocking on his door, hoping to lure him to the pro ranks with gobs of money.

Harbaugh has as many NFL coaching wins as I do. In fact, he has just two years of NFL coaching on his resume, and both of those were in Oakland as a quarterback coach.

He moved from there to become head coach at the University of San Diego, and then to Stanford.

The Miami Dolphins are among the franchises trying to lure Harbaugh, embarrassing themselves and the league by reportedly being willing to pay Harbaugh over $7 million per season. That's more than twice what some accomplished coaches in this league make, and it's an absolutely insane number for a guy like Harbaugh who lacks experience.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross might simply be trying to do what's best for his team, but his attempt to hire Harbaugh will simply hurt him on multiple levels.
  • How can current coach Tony Sparano ever again trust his owner and general manager?
  • How high did Ross just drive the price for every other random assistant or college head coach who is up for an NFL head job despite no previous experience?
  • What the hell is it going to cost a team now to hire a guy like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher out of retirement/television?
Ross might find some of these answers out the hard way, because there's no guarantee Sparano will want to stay with a group that he knows was actively trying to get rid of him in favor of a guy with zero NFL wins.

College coaches don't automatically succeed in the NFL. Some of them get sick of it and go back to college. Others just flame out and never are the same again.

No matter what, Ross' ploy was a dangerous, risky one, and now that it didn't work, the rather inexperienced NFL owner is left with a large amount of egg on his face.

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