Harbaugh to be introduced during Saturday news conference
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 season.
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."
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 capacity.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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