OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- John Harbaugh was hired Friday as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, who hope their second choice proves to be a first-rate success.
Harbaugh spent this season as Philadelphia's secondary coach
after making a name for himself working with special teams. He has
never been a head coach, but has coaching in his genes -- his
father, Jack, is former head coach at Western Kentucky and his
brother, Jim, is head coach at Stanford and a former quarterback
with the Ravens.
The 45-year-old Harbaugh, who received a four-year contract,
will be introduced as the third coach in Ravens history at a news
conference Saturday. His salary wasn't released, but most
first-year NFL head coaches get slightly more than $2 million a
Harbaugh arrived at the Ravens training complex around 9:30 a.m.
Friday for his second interview with owner Steve Bisciotti,
president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome. The sides
reached an agreement around 5:30 p.m.
Harbaugh then left in a limousine for his home in Philadelphia
without talking to the media. Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said
Harbaugh wanted to first share the news with his wife and parents
before expressing his feelings in front of cameras and reporters.
Harbaugh replaces Brian Billick, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a nine-year run. The Ravens were 5-11 this season after going 13-3 in 2006.
The Ravens earlier this week offered the job to Dallas Cowboys
offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who spurned Baltimore on
Thursday in favor of staying in Dallas. Garrett rejected the
Ravens' job offer after receiving a raise from owner Jerry Jones
and a promotion to assistant head coach.
Harbaugh, however, wasn't about to say no. During his first
interview, on Jan. 8, he couldn't contain his excitement over the
prospect of leading the franchise back into the playoffs.
"Up, down, sideways, from the very top, it's a very impressive
place to visit," Harbaugh said at the time. "I knew the Ravens
had a great organization. Now, I see why. Good people, from Ozzie
and Steve to everybody in the organization. It's been challenging,
but it has been fun."
Harbaugh coached in the college ranks at Miami University (Ohio), Western
Michigan, Pittsburgh, Morehead State and Cincinnati before joining
the Eagles in 1998. He was selected the NFL Special Teams Coach of
the Year by his peers in 2001.
He shifted to the secondary this season, working under defensive
coordinator Jim Johnson.
"I couldn't be happier for John and his entire family," Eagles
head coach Andy Reid said. "He has worked very hard to become a
head coach in the National Football League. I know how much this
means to him. He is very deserving of this opportunity and we will
miss him in Philadelphia. John is a good friend, a great coach, and
he has played a vital role in the success we have shared here. I
wish him all the best in Baltimore."
According to Byrne, as soon as the sides reached an agreement,
the first person outside the room to learn of the agreement was
former owner Art Modell, who sold majority ownership to Bisciotti
in April 2004.
The only other viable candidate for the job was New York Jets
offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who also interviewed
earlier this month. Brian's father, veteran NFL coach Marty
Schottenheimer, was also an option. But he never had any serious
talks with Baltimore about the vacancy.
Harbaugh was a finalist for the UCLA job last month and for the
Miami Dolphins' opening last year. He takes over a team that has
struggled on offense since Billick took over in 1999. Baltimore
ranked 22nd in total yardage this season and was 24th with 17.2
points per game. The Ravens also had their problems on defense
because of injuries to cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, and end Trevor Pryce.
Harbaugh will have the opportunity to hire his own staff because
Bisciotti fired all of Billick's assistants. If defensive
coordinator Rex Ryan does not get the head coaching job at Atlanta,
there is a chance he could return to Baltimore in the same