NFL | NCAA Football

John Harbaugh Latest NFL Coach Linked to USC Vacancy

No matter how many times coaches have to defend themselves during the season, rumors are still going to persist about openings at top-flight college programs.

Add John Harbaugh to the list of coaches who have been linked to other prominent coaching positions as the Baltimore Ravens front man has been said to be high on the list at USC now that Steve Sarkisian was fired earlier this week.

Harbaugh led the Ravens to a 2012 Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers. Now, with the Ravens season in doubt – having won only once this season – could he be looking for another place to call home in 2016?

It seems like I have written this story before.

Jamison Hensley of wrote that Harbaugh has made it clear that he is happy in Baltimore and wants to continue to be part of the Raven’s organization.

We have heard that as well from other coaches who said they were happy and then bolted for other opportunities. See Bobby Petrino. See Nick Saban.

And with Chip Kelly being linked to the same job and it looks like the Miami Dolphins might take a swing at landing Sean Payton, the NFL offseason for coaches might be more exciting than the players who file for free agency. Five or six teams could be in the hunt for new leadership – and that does not include surprises we might not see coming. Jacksonville, Miami, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Baltimore and Washington can all be added to that list.

Whew, I need a moment here.

Harbaugh, 53, owns the sixth-best winning percentage among active NFL coaches (83-49, 629). He has guided the Ravens to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens are off to their worst start in franchise history at 1-4, but Harbaugh is one of four coaches in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and not have a losing season in his head coaching career. His brother Jim was the head coach in San Francisco and made the jump to Michigan and has the Wolverines in contention for a major post-season bowl game. He, too, was linked to another job – this one in Indianapolis where he could be reunited with Andrew Luck, whom he coached in college at Stanford.

Coaching is a thankless job in many respects. High priced authority figures who are outmatched by higher-priced players who have more stroke with management. The fear of losing an all-pro caliber player outweighs listening to the man who is supposed to mold the team into a winner.

If the season continues for the Ravens, who were expected to be one of the top contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season, there could be player and coaching movement. This is a proud franchise under the guide of team general manager Ozzie Newsome. Something has to give. Reports of college programs wanting to inquire about the team’s head coach cannot help the situation. And in the end, it might lead to further indications that Harbaugh could leave at the end of the season.

While Kelly and potentially other head coaches both on the college and NFL level could be linked to USC, it does not change that rumors are just that. And cause way too much confusion before the truth is finally told.

And by the way, here is something else to ponder. This isn’t the first time Harbaugh has been linked to a Southern California school. In 2008, the UCLA Bruins chose Rick Neuheisel over Harbaugh in their coaching search. A month later, Harbaugh was hired by the Ravens.

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