The idea is pretty comical when you think about it.
We’re all college football fans here. Yet even the best facilities, the greatest recruiting advantage and the most passionate fanbase just can’t compare to the NFL.
Why else is Nick Saban’s Alabama contract extension still unsigned? The fact is, being a yearly contender for a National Championship just isn’t enough. You want more. Whether that’s money or whatever.
I bet even Saban is looking at all the vacancies cropping up in he NFL and thinking… ‘what if?’
Jumping ship ala Bobby Petrino is one thing. But Harbaugh isn’t controlling a 4-12 Falcons team. Unlike Petrino, he has his feet firmly under the table in San Fran.
He’s with a contender. He’s still based in California. He’s taken the 49ers to two NFC Championships plus a Super Bowl.
And that elusive title is still to be achieved.
Leaving for Texas would be a bizarre move. And he’d probably spend his entire time with the Longhorns wondering if he made the right decision.
The near certain multiple National Championships he’d compete for (because he is a good coach, let’s be right) won’t compare to one single Super Bowl ring.
So after considering this rumour for a few moments, I’d pretty much written it off.
Jim Trotter’s piece for MMQB is pure speculation, but it paints the picture of a man who might never truly be satisfied.
Some coaches settle into a job or find the perfect environment. Others spend their entire careers considering what might be a better offer.
More money, more power, more control. If that’s what Harbaugh craves, maybe he would consider an offer from Texas?
I still think there’s next to no chance Harbaugh ends up with the Longhorns. I think we’re more likely to see Saban take that gig — considering he’s taking such a long time to mull over that new contract in Tuscaloosa.
But I’m not using Trotter’s piece to write about something that could happen.
I’m actually using it to explain how much I want to see Harbaugh stay in San Francisco.
That’s right. I hope Jim Harbaugh stays with the 49ers for a long time.
And not because I’m don’t think he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL (he clearly is). And not because I think San Francisco is going to fold under his leadership (they won’t).
I want him to stay for two reasons. The first isn’t all that vital or important. But here we go.
For the first time in my lifetime — the Seahawks, the 49ers and the NFC West are the most interesting thing about the NFL.
Nothing gets close to it. All the great old rivalries of the past (Bears/Packers, Steelers/Ravens) just aren’t that interesting. Not even Manning vs Brady threatened to drag the spotlight away from the main event.
49ers vs Seahawks.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
The games are fierce and competitive. The coaches have history (more on that shortly…). They spend most of the year collecting each others practise squad players.
A few years ago the NFC West (Worst) was a laughing stock. A shambles.
Now, thanks to the sudden phoenix-like rise in Seattle and San Francisco, it’s pretty much the most interesting thing in Sports.
The Carroll/Harbaugh dynamic is central to that. In part because they both did such a terrific job turning their respective teams into a contender. And also because they clearly despise each other.
They can act all respectful in the press conferences. Pete can put an arm around Jim after losing last week and make it look like he’s not crying inside.
Sure, Pete was pleased to see his team destroy a title contender.
I know, you know… we all know… that strut was about more than that.
Jim is Pete’s arch enemy. Pete is Jim’s arch enemy.
(They’ll argue against that. And maybe that is over-doing it. But who really believes they’ll be sending Xmas cards to each other?)
Together, along with the teams they’ve so carefully crafted (well, Harbaugh mainly inherited his) — they’ve made the NFC West brilliant.
And it just won’t have the same edge without these two fighting it out two or three times a year.
Now here’s the serious reason.
The Seahawks need the 49ers.
The 49ers need the Seahawks too.
Back when the division was a joke and Seattle (followed by Arizona) could pull guys off the street and still walk away with it, I definitely think that lack of competition within the NFC West hurt.
When you’re not being pushed every year, you start to take things for granted. And you become complacent.
Seattle got old and never really thought about the future. Everything was win now at all costs. That might just be Tim Ruskell’s way of doing things, but I also sense there was a feeling of ‘screw tomorrow… win today’.
You can’t afford to think like that if there’s another team in the division consistently winning 11-13 games. You have to think about today, tomorrow, next year. You absolutely have to.
I think it’s one of the main reasons Pittsburgh and Baltimore have fielded tough, successful football teams for so long. They’ve won titles and beat the crap out of each other for years.
How much of that was down to the need to be on it every single year, within your own division? I’d argue it played a major part.
And it’s not just the individual matchups. The players sense the rivalry too. Every win, every week matters. It matters more because more than anything you want to be #1 and not #2.
You can’t honestly tell me that same feeling runs through the Indianapolis Colts dressing room, playing in the AFC South?
There’s every chance Seattle and San Francisco will win Championships over the next few years. The battle over the next decade might not be about who wins a week 14 regular season encounter, it might be about who won the most titles.
And that, for me, means keeping both teams right at the top of their game. Everything structurally intact.
Let them slog it out together.
As good as Vic Fangio is (and you’d have to believe he’d have a great shot at replacing Harbaugh) — it just won’t be the same without Jimmy boy.
So here’s to Texas going after Saban and leaving Harbaugh right where he is.
Scrapping and fighting with the Seahawks to be #1. Keeping both teams in the spotlight.