He may be his brother's keeper, but that does not mean that Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows his brother Jim's mind. Big brother to little brother, friend to friend, John does realize that something major, something big is about to happen for another Harbaugh.
Whether that is his little brother staying at Stanford, scooting to the University of Michigan or becoming an NFL head coach.
Jim Harbaugh's 12-1 Stanford team just waxed Virginia Tech, 40-12, in the Orange Bowl on Monday night in one of the most impressive job interviews a coach can possibly produce.
John Harbaugh's 12-4 Ravens play at the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card game on Sunday.
It's a big week for the Harbaughs.
"Well, I watched it on TV and it was about what you would expect from a brother, just proud and exciting to see,'' John Harbaugh said from his Ravens office early Tuesday morning. "We have not talked yet. I sent him a text. He's probably sleeping right now. I don't know what he's going to do. He doesn't know. But I'm sure he's going to have a lot of things to think about. He's got to weigh it out. I wouldn't be surprised if he stays at Stanford. Michigan? I'd assume he would have the chance to go there, but I don't know that.''
Several NFL teams -- including the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers -- are pondering a Jim Harbaugh connection.
"And if he comes to the NFL,'' John said, "we'll never be able to talk again. That would be the end of our relationship.''
He was kidding.
"Really, I just hope he doesn't come to the AFC North (where the Ravens reside),'' Harbaugh said. "That would be really hard. Maybe he goes to the NFC. That would be cool. I could root for him then. We only play them occasionally. There are only two jobs open right now, right?''
Yes, the Carolina Panthers and the Cleveland Browns. But owners with interim coaches, even owners with tenured coaches, a handful of them are looking at their current coach and looking at Jim Harbaugh and feeling a tinge of seduction.
"It's a crazy time,'' John Harbaugh said.
John is 48; Jim is 47, 15 months younger.
"I'm guessing we're probably like most brothers who are close in age,'' Harbaugh said. "We shared a room for 18 years growing up. We competed at everything. We were close. We fought. We fought for each others' backs. We were always physical with each other in our competition.
"As we got a little older, I had growth spurts, he had them, I had them, and then he finally had the big one. One day I looked up and he was 230 pounds. And I said, well, I think we can compete now in things like golf and bowling, OK?''
Both coaching brothers were taught by their former coaching father, Jack, to keep the main thing the main thing.
And for John Harbaugh, that's the Ravens.
It's the trip to Kansas City on Sunday.
For Harbaugh, this is a third straight playoff season in as many as Ravens coach. Only three other NFL coaches since 1990 have accomplished the playoffs in their first three NFL seasons: Barry Switzer, Denny Green and Bill Cowher.
No Ravens coach in the franchise's 15-year history has led the team to three consecutive playoff appearances.
Harbaugh reached the AFC Championship Game as a rookie head coach. He is 32-16 in Ravens regular-season games and 3-2 in the playoffs.
He credits the structure and teamwork of the Ravens from owner Steve Bisciotti downward. He credits his players and his quarterback, Joe Flacco, who arrived three seasons ago with Harbaugh. He applauds his coaches.
"When you work together and nobody worries about who gets the credit, you can go places,'' Harbaugh said. "I think our guys are more wise. Been there before. More determined. More aware of where we have to get better and improve in the playoffs. There are no perfect teams in the playoffs. We all have issues. You've just got to keep finding a way to win one more game.''
The Ravens are focusing on these areas of improvement before meeting the Chiefs: Point production, offensive consistency, third-down defense and gaining more sacks and turnovers.
"The Chiefs run the ball and stop the run,'' Harbaugh said. "Their quarterback (Matt Cassel) is a veteran guy. They have that odd front on defense like New England's style. They have high draft picks on their front seven and on the back end. I'm impressed with their recent draft picks. The guys they have drafted recently are all guys we respected, good players.
"It's loud in their stadium. They have all that fire engine red in there. But we're fresh, healthy, ready to play.''
And John Harbaugh is ready to coach. Another year, another playoffs for him. So, it's not all about Jim.
Big Brother has some big dates, too.
"I don't know, I really can't put it into words,'' Harbaugh said when asked about coaching the Ravens once again in the playoffs. ``You just want to do the best job you can and not let anyone down. We all have our own place. The position coaches, the players, the head coach -- we all have our role and we all want to do it the best way and pull your own weight.
Just do what you are supposed to do and collectively we can make a difference. Just be a part of it. That gives you a chance to do something special together.''
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