You cannot consume sports media this week without hearing about two brothers facing off for the first time ever in the Super Bowl. Many analysts want to make a big deal about how their relationship will affect the Harbaugh Bowl (HarBowl), but only Cosby Sweaters will literally make a story out of this. Our ‘analysis’ dives deep in to the rivalry between these two brothers going all the way back to a 15 month old vs. a 1 day old to determine which coach has the advantage in New Orleans. Using ‘evidence’ (made up stories) from their past, we will examine five aspects of coaching and determine which coach has the upper hand.
Head to Head– John
First let us examine the Harbaughs’ head-to-head record. John and Jim have already faced off once as head coaches of NFL teams. On Thanksgiving 2011, the Ravens and the 49ers played to a 16-6 Raven win in Baltimore. This gives John the advantage in the head to head win column, but how the game played out is even more telling. Five out of the six scores in the Thanksgiving matchup were field goals, and Jim has never scored a point against John with any player other than David Akers. Look for the coaches to rely heavily on their kickers in the HarBowl, and with Akers troubles this season, already missing 14 attempts, the head to head advantage swings even further toward John.
How much fight you got!? Jim
The NFL is a warrior’s game. Players need to witness the warrior’s spirit in their coach to be inspired to do battle on his behalf. The question is, which coach has a stronger warrior spirit? Like we learned from the first half hour of the movie 300, only battle can forge a true warrior, so we must compare the Harbaugh battle record. The easy analysis would be to give John the advantage as he holds a 4,968-3 record over Jim, but like a six digit phone number written on your hand, numbers can lie. John as the older and bigger brother simply gained experience beating a lesser opponent, like BCS team’s nonconference schedule. Jim’s three wins exhibit the spirit of a warrior. I do not know if you have ever seen what it looks like when a younger brother finally snaps and beats his older brother in a fight, but it is similar to a mother lifting a car off of her baby. Rage and adrenaline are the only things that fuel the victory and years of torment and bullying change direction like a salmon swimming up stream. To inspire his team fight like warriors, Jim will need to channel the memory of when John stole his Nutter Butter and called him a doofus one too many times that first fateful salmon warrior victory. Jim squeezes out the advantage.
A key to coaching in the NFL is out-scheming you opponent, by putting in countless hours in the film room and planning with your coaching staff. So far each coach has equally out schemed the rest of the league so again we have to turn to the past to see who has the advantage. Since this is the Super Bowl and we can expect each coach to pull out all of the stops, we only need make one comparison to see who has the advantage. Best Prank. John’s best prank on Jim occurred when John enlisted a friend to pretend to be Lou Holtz on the phone, and offer Jim a scholarship when he was only a freshman. Jim later realized the offer was pretend when the fake Holtz pronounced ‘freshman’ correctly. The best prank Jim played on John would come years later. When John’s daughter came of age, every morning Jim would slip a wax sealed letter under his niece’s bedroom door for over a month. The letters said that she had been accepted Hogwarts. John had no idea what was going on until his daughter showed him the last letter and asked, “Daddy, I thought Dumbledore was the Headmaster at Hogwarts. Who is Lou Holtz?” The dedication to this prank gives Jim the advantage in preparation.
As we have seen before with coaches like Bill Belichick and Sean Payton, to win a Super Bowl you need to have the marbles to take a big gamble. This relentless air of confidence cannot be taught, it needs to be earned just as Jim did. The year was 1980 and at Pioneer High School it was prom season. John Harbaugh, a leader on the defensive side of the football showed some conservative tendencies socially. His younger brother Jim, a budding quarter back star did not know his life would take him to another high school in years to come so he thought he would have to make a name for himself at Pioneer. John knew who was going to ask to prom, Becky Henderson. Becky was the safe choice, she and John had been friends for a long time but there was no chance of romantic involvement. While she would prove to be a fun dance partner, looks wise let’s just say she was a possession receiver. She had a few characteristics that could get her in that game but she was not an every down player.
Jim went a different route. One day after fifth period, Jim straightened his piano key necktie and walked right up to the Holly Prescott with her big blonde hair and neon leg warmers and asked her to the prom. Not only was Holly older than Jim, but she was also the coolest girl in school. Everyone thought she was going to turn him down flat because everyone knew Chip Connors was going to ask her, but the bold move played off. Not only did she say yes, but Jim found out that she was in fact an every down player. Bravado favors Jim.
Whether it is drawing up a fake play, or coming up with the right halftime speech, a head coach needs to be creative. John exhibited his creativity the most during childhood when his mother would play classical music and he would deliver “Win one for the Gipper” speeches to his stuffed animals. Jim secretly took 8mm footage of those speeches and uses them to blackmail John. Jim exhibited his creativity on paper when he would draw for hours and hours in his diary. Thinking his diary was safe, Jim would draw up trick play after trick play in his diary. Little did he know that John looked through each play after he went to sleep and scheme how to stop each trick play. You would not believe how complicated it is to defend “The Barking Dog” play. The advantage in creativity goes to John.
Please keep in mind that the preceding has been entirely fiction based on tiny nuggets of fact. Please also keep in mind that while this article gives Jim the 3-2 advantage over John, this analysis was based less in reality than a Guillermo del Toro film. That being said, I officially pretend to predict that Jim will win the HarBowl!
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