For perhaps the first time in his sporting life, Jack Harbaugh will go into a football game without a plan.

There will be no calculated schemes or strategies when he walks into the Superdome in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII to find his two sons facing one another in the biggest moment of their coaching careers.

It's a scene Jack Harbaugh -- the 73-year-old father to John and Jim -- won't allow himself to create until it's time. Instead, he'll allow the moment when everything comes together in all of its star-studded glory to dictate his emotions rather than scripting his feelings like he had an offensive game plan so many times during his coaching career.

But in that instant just before kickoff, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh may -- if only for a second -- allow themselves to bask in what that moment means to their family. Then they'll step back again and allow the two Harbaugh coaches on the field to do what they do.

And yet admittedly, the game will be different than any other the couple, married for 51 years, has witnessed, providing another scrapbook memory in a football life that is already full of them.

"It's really an emotional experience," Jack Harbaugh told ThePostGame. "The last few days, I've really come to the conclusion that we're parents -- Jackie and I -- and we've gone through this process with no book and really, it's been by the seat of your pants. You raise your children and do the best you can and hope for the best results."

So even on Super Bowl Sunday -- when the Ravens, coached by John Harbaugh, face the 49ers, coached by Jim Harbaugh -- life will move ahead unscripted.

At some point, Jackie -- the woman whom Jack refers to as a the rock of the Harbaugh family -- will undoubtedly devise a plan.

She's the one who executed a plan each of the 16 times the Harbaugh family moved during Jack’s coaching career. She's the one who bought and sold the houses, the one who made sure all of the details were taken care. She will again spring into action.

She'll figure out where the couple's 10 grandchildren and her 97-year-old father, will sit -- not to mention how all of the siblings and various family members will be assembled in time for kickoff.

But in the midst of all of the planning that's needed when the time comes, there will also be a moment of calm, when the reality of the all-Harbaugh Super Bowl finally sinks in.

Then, Jack says, he will finally exhale.

“We'll just be watching and enjoying and living in this moment,” Jack says.

“Because one thing we learned from last Thanksgiving is that this is not about us. It’s not about Jack and Jackie Harbaugh -- it's about them.”


If anything good came out of the first time John and Jim Harbaugh faced one another on the field in November 2011, it's that it provided their parents with a plan.

In the weeks leading up the regular-season meeting, the two brothers swapped many of the same stories they will again, repeating -- as they have already -- that this isn't about them.

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By accepting the head coaching position with the Philadelphia Eagles last week, Chip Kelly also welcomed the rigors of running the preeminent team in one of the country's toughest sports cities -- the same place that infamously booed and threw snow at Santa.

All the talk about Kelly is whether he'll keep Michael Vick, and perhaps more importantly if he can apply the spread offense he so successfully ran at Oregon in the NFL. But one of the previous generation's best football minds doesn't seem too worried.

Dick Vermeil, who made the same jump from the Pac-10/12 to the NFL when he left UCLA for Philadelphia in 1976, says he is confident that Kelly will be just fine. They spoke on the phone last week, and Vermeil, who took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in his fifth season, gave Kelly some advice.

"To me, coaching is coaching, leading is leading, and from what I have been told, he's a great leader, he's a great communicator, he's a great teacher," Vermeil says. "All those concepts are completely important in the National Football League, if not more. Yes, he'll have to make some adjustments. The big thing is surrounding yourself with people who can help you be as good as you can be as a coach, and surround yourself with knowledgeable people, experienced people, and then go with it."

Still, others worry about the challenge that the unique and difficult culture of Philadelphia may have for the new coach. After all, this isn't the Universities of New Hampshire or Oregon -- Kelly's previous two coaching stops. This is Philadelphia.

If Kelly's introductory press conference last Thursday is any indication, he does have an appreciation for the "City of Brotherly Love," its passion for sports and the fact that the Eagles haven't brought home a title since 1960, six seasons before the start of the Super Bowl era.

"I know that the second most important bowl, besides the Super Bowl, which is my goal, is the Wing Bowl," Kelly quipped about the famous chicken wing-eating contest, which is one of Philly's other institutions. "I am not going to participate, but I understand what this city is all about and I'm just glad that I got an opportunity to be here.

"My decision was based on nothing to do with any trepidation about this organization," he said between a mention of Vince Papale, a player for Vermeil and the inspiration for the 2006 film Invincible. "I wanted to be here. If you pay attention to outside expectations, it means that you value their opinion more than you value your own. No one has higher expectations for me than me."

Vermeil, who was NFL coach of the year with the Eagles and the Rams, acknowledged that there is heightened scrutiny with this distinct NFL position.

"Philadelphia is tough, because of their passion for the team," he says. "The level of intensity and the overreaction to the positive and the overreaction to the negative is great there. It really is. But I think he is a great communicator. I think he connects with people, I think he will connect with the community. That will help him in Philadelphia. It will buy you time."

Then he adds with a chuckle: "Still gotta win."

Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, who also played cornerback for the Eagles for nine seasons, most of them under Vermeil, sees the increased pressure as only a positive.

"It's unique in that it's a passionate town," Edwards says, "and they're hooraying now. And [Kelly] said at his press conference, 'Hey, after the first time you don't make the first down, they're going to boo you,' but that's part of it. That's Philly. And he'll be [fine]. It's a badge of courage. It means they care."

But as Kelly said while making his first official statements as the Philadelphia franchise's 21st coach as it embarks on its 81st season, he's happy, he knew what he was getting into, and he's prepared for the task.

"I'm excited to be an Eagle, and excited to get started, and we're ready to go. I'm all in."

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The man who may end up fielding the most media requests leading up to the Super Bowl isn't a member of either team. But as the father of both head coaches in the game, Jack Harbaugh has plenty of people eager to pick his brain and have him tell stories about the boys.

So far the elder Harbaugh hasn't done any interviews since Jim's 49ers and John's Ravens won their conference championship games Sunday.

That has left the media to revive relevant material from the archives, such as this feature on Jack in ThePostGame that ran just before the 49ers faced the Ravens on Thanksgiving night in 2011.

On the premiere of its latest episode Tuesday night, HBO's "Real Sports" revisited its 2011 feature on the Harbaughs. But it also produced a bonus online-only segment in which Jack talks about how much Jim coveted quarterback Colin Kaepernick leading up to the 2011 NFL draft. It was a selection Jack endorsed long before the 49ers actually used their second-round pick on Kaepernick, who was the sixth quarterback taken (Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton).

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Had he played college ball about 45 miles south of where I'm standing in Palm Beach County, you better believe you'd have heard of him before the 2012 NFL draft. A workhorse running back capable of breaking the NFL's rookie rushing record ... at The U? By the time he turned the shower on after his last game in a Canes uniform he'd have an Under Armour contract. Mel Kiper would be calling him the next great Miami running back to go along with Ottis Anderson, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee. Ray Lewis would be sending him inspirational texts as he heads to his first playoff game this Sunday.

Had he played 300 miles north, in Gainesville, punishing SEC defenses in The Swamp and Death Valley and Tuscaloosa, he'd be mentioned as the heir apparent to Emmitt Smith or Fred Taylor. He and Tim Tebow would be buddies and he might have a national championship on his resume. At the bare minimum, you'd at least have heard the name Alfred Morris before last week; before he came out of nowhere to break the all-time Redskins' single-season rushing record with a 200-yard performance in a must-win game; before he grabbed the headlines from his electrifying teammate, Robert Griffin III; and before he finished having the best year by an NFL rookie running back in three decades.

No, Alfred Morris didn't go to the University of Miami or the University of Florida or Florida State or even South Florida. They didn't want him. He was a tad slow, a touch small, three stars short of's top five-star rating. But one school's two-star talent is another school's pot of gold. Enter: Florida Atlantic University.

FAU is in Boca Raton, Florida. It's ten minutes from the ocean, an hour from Miami and you'd be forgiven for driving up or down I-95 and going by the Glades Boulevard exit without knowing there's a major university nestled just off the highway. A brand new 30,000-seat football stadium anchors the campus, sitting neatly between the College of Medicine and an apartment complex. Though the program is young, it already has one legendary ex-head coach, Howard Schnellenberger, who is immortalized in statue form at the stadium's entrance and who led the recruitment of Morris.

Schnellenberger played under Bear Bryant at Kentucky and coached with him at Alabama. He coached with Don Shula. He was head coach at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Miami. He won a national championship. All of which is to mention that when NFL pundits and journalists casually say of Morris' success that nobody saw it coming, well, they're doing a disservice to a few guys who did. Maybe not this quickly, and maybe not to this extent, but when you talk to Schnellenberger and Morris' FAU running back coach, Dave Serna, you come away knowing that they believe in Alfred Morris. And they believed he could be this good.


"Alfred had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a row with us," Schnellenberger says. "He's a true competitor and a true athlete. He has his own running style. It's a fundamental style, but it's effective."

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