Ravens hire Harbaugh as coach Jilted by Garrett, team turns to Eagles assistant to replace Billick By Jamison Hensley | Sun reporter 9:10 PM EST, January 18, 2008
John Harbaugh was hired by the Ravens today in a bold move that gives the longtime assistant coach his first head coaching opportunity.
The Ravens will announce the hiring of the 45-year-old Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach, who comes from a football family, during a news conference at noon tomorrow.
Harbaugh has never been in charge of an offense or a defense in the National Football League and made a name for himself as a special teams coach.
Harbaugh, considered the dark-horse candidate when the Ravens' search began, impressed team officials with his intense coaching style and magnetic personality.
The hiring of Harbaugh ends the Ravens' 18-day search for a coach. He will become the third coach in Ravens history, replacing Brian Billick, who was fired Dec. 31 after nine seasons with the team.
An NFL source said Harbaugh will sign a four-year deal worth $2 million to $2.5 million a season, which is typical for a first-year coach.
"We have the head coach, and we're very excited about it," team spokesman Kevin Byrne said.
Owner Steve Bisciotti offered Harbaugh the job at 5:35 p.m. in the team's boardroom in front of the search committee.
After Harbaugh accepted, Bisciotti called former majority owner Art Modell so that he could be one of the first to know.
Harbaugh is the NFL's ninth-youngest head coach and is eight years younger than Billick, which center Mike Flynn said shouldn't be a problem.
"It's not going to matter," Flynn said. "He's ready for the job. I'm sure he's going to do his homework and will establish his philosophy. ... I think he'll have instant credibility and respect. It's something he would have to lose."
Harbaugh, who was not made available to reporters, left in a limousine for Philadelphia and will return tomorrow for the news conference.
The Ravens will fly Harbaugh's parents to Baltimore for the official announcement.
His father, Jack, is a 41-year coaching veteran. He was head coach at Western Kentucky University when the team won the 2002 Division I-AA national championship.
Harbaugh's brother, Jim, was the Ravens' quarterback in 1998. He is now head coach at Stanford University.
The Ravens first targeted Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and aggressively tried to hire him during a seven-hour visit Tuesday. Garrett turned down the Ravens' offer Thursday and decided to remain with Dallas.
Harbaugh, who was considered the fallback option if Garrett wasn't hired, became the second candidate to be interviewed for a second time, arriving at Ravens headquarters today about 9 a.m.
Harbaugh doesn't have credentials typical of some other head coaching candidates but has been considered by several NFL teams. A high-ranking Ravens official said last year that Harbaugh would be an excellent head coach.
Harbaugh was a finalist for the UCLA job last month and for the Miami Dolphins' opening last year.
Fans might know him only as the brother of Jim Harbaugh, but John Harbaugh has built a reputation around the league as an energetic teacher who gets the most out of his players.
Harbaugh shifted to secondary coach this season to give himself a better chance to become a head coach. He had spent the previous nine seasons coaching the Eagles' special teams.
"John wants to be a head coach someday, and maybe a defensive coordinator," Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said of that shift. "This gives him a different responsibility. It gives him a professional opportunity to step out of that special-teams mode, and it strengthens our staff."
Teams generally don't hire special teams coaches as a head coach.
But several successful head coaches -- Marv Levy, Dick Vermeil, Mike Ditka, Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick -- began their careers coordinating special teams.
After his first interview with the Ravens on Jan. 8, Harbaugh expressed confidence that he could lead the Ravens.
"I don't think there's any one way to prepare to be a head coach," Harbaugh said at the time. "I don't think you are a head coach until you become a head coach and you find out what your style is. [Eagles head coach] Andy Reid was never a coordinator before he became a head coach, and he's one of the best in the league."
Harbaugh could take a week before finalizing a coaching staff.
Before joining Philadelphia's staff, Harbaugh held a variety of college jobs for 13 years, including coaching defensive backs, running backs, tight ends and special teams, and overseeing strength and conditioning programs.
Other assistants interviewed by the Ravens were former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan; Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano, who was hired by the Miami Dolphins; New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer; and Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, who withdrew from consideration.
Source: Ravens want to keep Ryan Team reportedly in negotiations to keep Ryan as DC; ex-Miami coach Cameron, Eagles QB coach Shurmur possible OC candidates By Jamison Hensley | Sun reporter 7:52 PM EST, January 18, 2008
The Ravens are in negotiations with Rex Ryan to keep him as the defensive coordinator on new coach John Harbaugh's staff, an NFL source said.
To retain Ryan, the Ravens likely have to give him a significant raise. Ryan is in the final year of a two-year contract that is worth between $1 million and $1.2 million a season.
The offensive coordinator could be either Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur or former Miami Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, a league source said.
Harbaugh has a chance to keep Ryan because they had a solid relationship during their one season together at the University of Cincinnati. In 1996, Harbaugh was the assistant head coach at Cincinnati and Ryan was the defensive coordinator.
But it's a delicate situation because the Ravens interviewed Ryan for the head coaching job, but he wasn't considered a finalist.
A league source said Ryan has already been offered defensive coordinator jobs from three teams, with the Dolphins presumably one of them. Ryan had a strong interview with new Dolphins executive Bill Parcells this month.
Besides an increased salary, the Ravens also offer a comfort zone for Ryan. He is extremely loyal to his players, who campaigned heavily for him to become the Ravens' head coach.
It is believed that Harbaugh will talk to Cameron and Shurmur for the offensive coordinator job.
Shurmur could be the front-runner because he has coached on the Eagles' staff with Harbaugh for the past nine seasons. Shurmur has spent the past six seasons as Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach.
Cameron is a possibility because Harbaugh was on his staff at Indiana, where he was the defensive backs and special teams coach.
Harbaugh hire is calculated risk Rick Maese 9:02 PM EST, January 18, 2008
Not when the veteran quarterback or hot-shot running back was acquired.
Not when any offensive coordinator was fired or any defensive coordinator was hired.
Not even when one owner handed over controlling interest to another.
In recent years, no single day represents as much change to the Ravens' organization as today, when John Harbaugh, a career assistant, was hired as the Ravens' third head coach, replacing Brian Billick, who was fired after a nine-year run nearly three weeks ago.
The sweeping changes take place on a pair of fronts. Obviously, on the field, a young 45-year-old fresh face is now in charge of a locker room of veterans and will try to get the most out of a group that's coming off a disappointing 5-11 season. But perhaps just as importantly, owner Steve Bisciotti has now firmly rubbed his fingerprints on one of the Ravens' last untouched surfaces.
Bisciotti took over ownership nearly four years ago, but inherited many key components. He built his fortune via a staffing company -- placing the right people in the right jobs. But no hire or placement he's ever made has been as important as today's.
Because Harbaugh has never been an offensive or defensive coordinator -- let alone a head coach -- his appointment surely will be viewed by many as a high-risk hire. For many football fans, he's lived his football life in the shadow of a more successful father and a more well-known brother. But for the Ravens, it's a calculated gamble, a week in the making on the team's end and a lifetime in the making on Harbaugh's.
Forget the talk of inexperience; Harbaugh had been preparing himself for this job nearly his entire life. His father, Jack, was a longtime football coach, and his brother, Jim, was an NFL quarterback who's also now a coach. As for Harbaugh, he played defensive back at Miami of Ohio, where he majored in political science.
"He was going to be a lawyer and go into politics," his father, Jack, told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1998. "When he told her he'd made up his mind and that he was going into coaching, his mother dropped her head onto the kitchen table and burst into tears as if she'd lost her son."
It wasn't long before everyone else started accepting the fact that John Harbaugh would someday be a head coach. It just took a decision-maker like Bisciotti and the hiring committee he assembled to look beyond the short resume. Firing Billick might have been tough, but hiring Harbaugh is much more bold.
Though Harbaugh spent last season as an Eagles assistant in charge of the secondary, much of his success has come from leading the special teams, which isn't as unlikely a starting point as it might seem. Coaches like Bill Belichick, Dick Vermeil, Bill Cowher, Marv Levy and Mike Ditka all rose from special teams to eventual head coaching jobs.
Still, Harbaugh wasn't like a lot of other special teams coaches.
Back when the Eagles reached the Super Bowl in 2005, it was noted that while many teams might have a half-dozen kickoff return schemes or fewer, Harbaugh's playbook was different. He had 56 drawn up.
His style always seemed different, too. Players like him for a reason. Special teams players are often unheralded, unseasoned and unnoticed. Harbaugh created a chart for his unit, awarded gold stars for tackles, blocks and big plays. Every four games, he'd hand out prizes, like an iPod. Subtle, but effective.
Over the years, the praise from his players and fellow coaches has been consistent. It didn't matter who was doing the talking -- Eagles head coach Andy Reid, Pro Bowl player Ike Reese or Harbaugh's brother, Jim, a former Raven and the current Stanford coach -- the coach's fate has felt predetermined, his path pointed in one clear direction.
"I've never seen anyone put such an emphasis on special teams," former Eagles cornerback and kick returner Roderick Hood told the Wilmington News-Journal in 2005. "That's why he would make a good head coach. He's so organized, and he pays so much attention to detail. He doesn't take any part of it lightly."
Harbaugh reportedly blew away Ravens officials with enthusiasm, character and organization, but the Ravens' calculated risk is centered on the idea that the Eagles' special teams is a microcosm, that Harbaugh can transfer his success and methods to the larger locker room.
"I don't think it's a stretch to say the special teams coach has more head-coaching responsibilities because of the nature of the job, but it hasn't been viewed that way," Harbaugh told the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post in 2000. "I'm hoping I'm the guy who breaks the barrier. I used to worry. I don't anymore. I use the word 'providence.' All that stuff about worrying, it's phony. If you work hard, do a good job, and you're loyal, providence takes you where you're supposed to go."
It's a new day at the Ravens' Owings Mills complex. A new coach inherits a new set of players -- talent, question marks, problem areas. And the owner is playing with his own chess pieces finally, and tomorrow he'll show off his new king.
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Everything I've ever heard about John Harbaugh has been three thumbs up, but I wonder if the promotion could have came as an assistant of some sort rather than promoting him immediately from Secondary Coach to Head Coach. My prediction is Harbaugh has a rough time coaching the Ravens, but gets a 2nd chance later in his coaching career if he doesn't produce.
Honestly, I don't know. I was one of those who was not thrilled when Andy Reid got hired, and he wasn't a coordinator. But that worked out pretty well, so there could be something to it too. I think in some ways it could be a good thing, because a coordinator background also is going to have a heavy bias for their side of the ball too (maybe, just conjecture)
The opening scene of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" is loosely based on games of dodgeball Brian Dawkins played in second grade.
LoveBoatCaptain wrote:Everything I've ever heard about John Harbaugh has been three thumbs up, but I wonder if the promotion could have came as an assistant of some sort rather than promoting him immediately from Secondary Coach to Head Coach. My prediction is Harbaugh has a rough time coaching the Ravens, but gets a 2nd chance later in his coaching career if he doesn't produce.
I think whoever the Ravens hired would have a tough time coaching that team. Right now the inmates are running the asylum, and I think there will need to be some significant personnel changes to alter that mentality.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire
Its not the huge name big splash hire, but he's a young energetic guy who can lead the franchise for awhile, and alot of teams are looking to go in that direction with youth and energy...He is probably the best Special Teams coach in the NFL, and how do you guys think Belichick got his start...
No he doesnt have much HC experience, but not one nfl coach did before they were given a chance, if no one is given a chance they wouldnt ever have any experience...My only problem is that the players are somewhat running that team, as soon as things go bad they wont turn to the young guy for answers...most of the players wanted Rex Ryan, so it will be interesting to see how things turn out
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First hire: Cameron Ex-Dolphins coach will try to revive offense By Jamison Hensley | Sun reporter January 24, 2008
Cam Cameron was named Ravens offensive coordinator yesterday, becoming new coach John Harbaugh's first and perhaps most important hire.
If Harbaugh wants to turn around the Ravens in the 2008 season, he'll need Cameron to revitalize an offense that has consistently ranked among the NFL's worst for a decade.
Before he was fired as head coach of the 1-15 Miami Dolphins three weeks ago, Cameron built a reputation for directing one of the NFL's most explosive attacks. In his last three seasons as the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator (2004-2006), the team finished in the NFL's top five in scoring, averaging 28.3 points a game.
"I know we're going to work hard and we've got a system that we like," Cameron said during a conference call yesterday. "I can't ever remember having to make a whole bunch of promises offensively. We're going to let our play speak for itself."
Cameron, 46, spent a couple of hours at Ravens headquarters yesterday before driving cross-country to pick up his family in San Diego, but he should have a familiarity with the team.
The Ravens have a similar look to the Chargers when Cameron was there, with a versatile running back, a Pro Bowl tight end, a receiving corps that lacks a playmaker, a developing offensive line and a question mark at quarterback.
In Cameron's final season with the Chargers, they ranked fourth in total offense (365 yards a game) and first in scoring (30.8 points).
"I think the good systems maximize the players that they have and continue to develop the guys that they have to work with," Cameron said. "To compare [players] probably wouldn't be fair, but I know I'm excited about the starting point that we have."
The only other candidate considered for the offensive coordinator's job was Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur.
The Ravens' next move could be retaining Rex Ryan as defensive coordinator, an NFL source said.
The Atlanta Falcons last night hired Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as head coach, eliminating Ryan as a candidate for the position. Smith is a former Ravens assistant.
It is believed Ryan has been contacted by other teams about being a defensive coordinator, with the Washington Redskins being the most aggressive. But a league source said the Redskins have not requested permission from the Ravens to speak to Ryan.
Under NFL rules, the Ravens can block Ryan from making any move - other than for a head coaching job - because he has a year left on his contract.
"Rex has always told the Ravens that he doesn't want to be a defensive coordinator anywhere else," a team source said. "He wants to become a head coach."
Cameron, meanwhile, will inherit an offense that has ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in eight of the past nine seasons.
"Getting Cam makes this a very good day for the Ravens," Harbaugh said in a statement. "We share many of the same philosophies about the game: We're going to be tough, we're going to be exciting, we're going to be disciplined, and we're going to play really hard."
Cameron declined to comment on Ravens players, saying the evaluation process will take time. But he didn't seem to rule out Steve McNair at quarterback when asked how much he thought McNair had left.
Said Cameron: "I think the minute you start trying to predict that kind of stuff ... I know there were a lot of those predictions going around the last couple of years in Green Bay, and we all saw what happened."
Terms of Cameron's deal with the Ravens were not disclosed.
"In life, we all get stung on occasion," said Cameron, whose only NFL head coaching job lasted one season. "If you're in the NFL as a coach or a player long enough, you're going to get stung. The sting is going away."
One reason Cameron chose the Ravens was his connection with Harbaugh, which dates to his college coaching days. Harbaugh served as a defensive backs and special teams coach when Cameron was the head coach at Indiana in 1997.
Cameron, who will be the Ravens' play-caller, said Harbaugh is "extremely bright and one of the hardest-working coaches that I've been around. He's a great game-day coach and a great teacher. ...
"The players are going to enjoy playing for him, and the assistant coaches are going to enjoy working for him. He brings a team concept I'm excited about being a part of."
Ryan says he hopes to stay with Ravens He denies reports that he's spoken to other teams about their coordinator positions Jamison Hensley | Sun reporter 12:45 PM EST, January 24, 2008
Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan today denied that he has spoken to other teams about their coordinator positions, saying he hopes his situation works out with the Ravens.
New Ravens coach John Harbaugh has yet to name a defensive coordinator but he can retain Ryan because he has another year left on his contract. If the Ravens decide to keep Ryan there have been talks about giving him a raise.
"I hope everything works out financially, but I'm going right to my office at the Ravens tomorrow," Ryan said.
In Mobile, Ala., this week to scout players in the Senior Bowl, Ryan said he has spoken to Harbaugh over the phone every day since he was hired.
"I know people in the organization, I'm not uncomfortable with what happened, I know John Harbaugh and I like him. If I didn't get hired, I'm glad he did," Ryan said.
Ryan was a candidate for head coaching jobs in Atlanta and Miami, as well as Baltimore. He has had a good run in Baltimore. In 2005, his first season as defensive coordinator, the Ravens finished fifth in defense despite missing linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed for a total of 16 games.
In 2006, the Ravens' defense finished No. 1 for the first time in team history and led the NFL in fewest points allowed.
This past season, the Ravens still had the sixth-best defense while missing their top two cornerbacks (Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle) and their sacks leader from the previous year (defensive tackle Trevor Pryce) for much of the season.
A Ravens spokesman said Harbaugh won't comment on any coaching hire until it's official.
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