At the University of San Diego, the small Catholic school where Jim Harbaugh presumably threw his first sideline tantrum as a head coach, the stories they tell are about intensity and motivation. Then, as now, Harbaugh had both in large quantities.
On Feb. 3, he’ll be coaching the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The fact he’s just seven years removed from coaching at USD, a non-scholarship program at the FCS level, would rate as a meteoric rise — except to those who know him.
“It really doesn’t surprise me,” said Jimmie Dougherty, an offensive assistant during Harbaugh’s three-year stay at USD from 2004-06. “He’s a great football mind. He gets the game first and foremost, but beyond that he’s a brilliant motivator. It’s been a fast rise, and it hasn’t been that long, but I think it’s cool that he’s never changed who he is or his approach to the game.”
The intense demeanor? The competitive nature? The will to win? Harbaugh had all of that, just like his father Jack and his older brother John, who will coach the Baltimore Ravens opposite Jim in the Super Bowl.