Friday evening, the Harbaugh family was presented with the Blanton Collier Award as part of the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend. Jim and John were not present, but their father Jack was on hand with his wife to accept the award.
The award was named after former Kentucky football coach Blanton Collier, who went on to become coach of the Cleveland Browns, leading them to a world championship in 1964. The award honors individuals who excelled on the football field, and were able to use their success to give back off the field. Last year's honoree was the Manning family, and previous winners included Gale Sayers, Jim Brown, Tony Dungy, the 1961-61 Kentucky football team and former Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.
The family is as competitive as they come, but that is a big reason they have found such great success in life. Jack Harbaugh gave an acceptance speech and he spoke about how Jim and John helped him in recruiting at Western Kentucky. When Jack took over, the program, the school came close to shutting it down. In keeping it active they removed scholarships, which obviously put the coaching staff at a recruiting disadvantage.
"John and Jim both stepped up. Jim took a full-time coaching job at Western, for no money, and all he did was recruit because he was with the Chicago Bears at the time. John was at Cincinnati, so he kept two lists, one for us and one for him, and passed them along to Jim."
According to that article, when Western Kentucky won the 2002 national title, Jim Harbaugh was credited with signing 17 of the players on the roster.
When the first award was given to former Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, the presenter offered up a quotation from Blanton Collier: "You can accomplish anything you want, as long as you do not care who gets the credit." I can't really speak for John or Jack Harbaugh, but even though Jim Harbaugh gets a ton of credit, his hiring decisions, and general just win ethos falls in line to some extent with this quotation.
Coach Harbaugh constantly tries to deflect credit, and many of his coaching decisions show his belief in bringing together the best minds, even if they are smarter than him. His hiring of Eric Mangini is the best example, but you can go back to bringing in former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt to the 49ers, and bringing on Vic Fangio starting at Stanford. It's about finding the guys that can help him find as much success as possible for the 49ers.
Congratulations to the Harbaugh family!