Harbaugh has unfinished business in NFL

Harbaugh: 'I don't ever talk about any jobs other than the one I have'

Harbaugh has unfinished business in NFL
December 12, 2013, 9:00 am
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The more likely scenario is the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh work out a contract extension that will pay him in excess of $7 million a year. (AP)

Programming note: Watch Thursday’s 49ers press conference with Vic Fangio and Greg Roman streaming live right here at 11:55 a.m.  

SANTA CLARA -- Of course, Texas would be interested in hiring Jim Harbaugh as head coach.

That part of the reports and speculation emanating from Longhorn country is completely understandable.

But it becomes a lot more difficult to believe Harbaugh would be interested in Texas – or any other college job -- at this stage in his coaching life. After all, this a man who spurned his alma mater, Michigan, to take the 49ers job in January 2011.

“I don’t ever talk about any jobs other than the one I have,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday.

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And he means what he says. He has used that same answer repeatedly for at least several years. In the truest sense, Harbaugh is neither confirming nor denying any interest. However, that also means that his name will continue to be connected to jobs until the vacancies are filled.

Harbaugh is certainly no prisoner to conventional thinking. But it would be virtually unheard of for an NFL coach of his stature to jump to the college ranks. Typically, successful college coaches can be lured to the NFL. It rarely works the other way.

Thirteen years ago, Al Groh resigned after going 9-7 in his only season with the New York Jets to accept a seven-year deal to become head coach at Virginia.

Said Groh at the time, "I realize there will be some criticism of this, but only I know my heart. Too, this provides the type of long-term security and stability not commonly found in the NFL nowadays. The University of Virginia is my school. I wore that jersey and it means a great deal to me. My mom lives there and my dad is buried there."

Groh stands alone in recent memory as a coach who left the NFL on his own terms – and after at least moderate success -- to immediately take a college job.

However, there are plenty of examples of coaches who have parlayed college successes into NFL jobs.

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That list includes, of course, Harbaugh, as well as Pete Carroll, Chip Kelly, Greg Schiano, Tom Coughlin, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, Mike Riley, Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson, Jimmy Johnson and many others.

As suggested on Wednesday, the more likely scenario is that the 49ers and Harbaugh work out a contract extension that will pay him in excess of $7 million a year to bump his salary over the levels of fellow NFC West coaches Pete Carroll and Jeff Fisher. Harbaugh is wrapping up the third year of his original five-year, $25 million deal.

Harbaugh is as competitive as they come. And almost impossible to think Harbaugh would give up on his chance of winning a Lombardi Trophy after coming so close last season before losing to his brother's Baltimore Ravens.