Today is a great day to wish Coach Jack Harbaugh a very happy birthday! According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Jack Avon Harbaugh was born on this day in Crestline, Ohio. He was an excellent high school athlete in football and baseball, but football was his passion. Young Harbaugh decided to continue his education and his football career at Bowling Green State University(BGSU) where he played running back for the Falcons.
Jack Harbaugh lettered at BGSU from 1958 to 1960 and played on the Falcon team that won the small college division national championship in 1959. He also played one year of professional football in the old American Football League for the New York Titans.
Harbaugh started his coaching career at Perrysburg High School in suburban Toledo. After serving as an assistant at various schools, he held head coaching jobs at the three Ohio High Schools. Harbaugh led Xenia High School to a league championship and Coach of the Year honors a few years later.
Jack Harbaugh made a big leap of faith in 1967 when he took a full-time assistant coaching job at Moorhead State in Kentucky. During Harbaugh’s career he held assistant coaching jobs at eight different programs, including Michigan from 1973 to 1979. Yes, that qualifies him as a Wolverine in my book!
The likeable, hard-working Harbaugh earned his first head coaching job at Western Michigan in 1982. He led the Broncos to two winning seasons and three losing seasons in five years.
Jack Harbaugh’s second head coaching opportunity worked out much better although it was really rough going from 1992 to 1995. He committed to rebuilding the program at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Western Kentucky had two winning seasons in Harbaugh’s first seven years. Administrators were on the verge of closing the program because of budget shortfalls. Fortunately, Harbaugh and some strong Hilltopper alums kept the program alive and moving forward.
Harbauagh’s sons, John and Jim really pitched in on the recruiting side and things really started to pay off. Harbaugh’s Hilltoppers had seven straight winning seasons from 1996 to 2002. His last team won the conference championship and the NCAA Division I-AA championship.
Yes, Jack Harbaugh’s football journey finished strong at WKU, a fitting end to a lifetime of dedication to the great game of college football. Personally, I think Jack Harbaugh belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame. He is one of a very few men to have played and coached on college level championship teams. Coach Harbaugh had a career that spanned 41 years.
As a full-time assistant at six Division I level programs, Jack Harbaugh helped those teams post a record of 137 wins, 70 losses and 6 ties. His dedication and enthusiasm is part of the reason that those programs posted 15 winning seasons and only 5 losing campaigns. Teams with Jack Harbaugh on the sidelines won 6 conference championships and finished with a winning rate of over sixty-five percent (.657).
As a head coach, Harbaugh posted eleven winning seasons and eight losing seasons. He finished with a final record of 116 wins, 95 losses and 3 ties. He is the second winningest coach in the history of WKU football. In both head coaching jobs, Harbaugh was in a re-build mode. So, his final winning percentage of .549 doesn’t tell the whole story. Western Kentucky was a really tough job, but Harbaugh put in the enthusiasm and the work. In his last seven seasons, the Hilltoppers had a winning rate of over seventy-one percent (.718).
Yes, in thirty-nine years of coaching at the Division I level, Jack Harbaugh had a part in 243 wins. More importantly, he helped keep the program going at Western Kentucky and took it to the top in 2002. That’s a pretty good resume in my book, but what do I know?
Now, with a lifetime of “football knowledge” tucked away in his mind, father Jack is Jim Harbaugh’s most trusted football, and life, advisor at Michigan. Jack A. Harbaugh has been to many places in his life, but he loves Ann Arbor and Michigan for a lot of reasons. I am willing to bet that his blood bleeds Maize and Blue right now and that probably won’t change. I hope that Jack Harbaugh has a wonderful day of celebration on his special day. Happy Birthday Jack Harbaugh – thanks for all you have done for college football in your lifetime. Go Blue!
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