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Super Bowl 2013: Bill Walsh, Jim Harbaugh and the eccentricities of a head coach

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I draw some parallels between Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh.


Sam Wickersham, over at, has an incredibly interesting article on Bill Walsh called "The Book of Coach." I would highly suggest that you read it. Warning: it is fairly lengthy. Second warning: It's totally worth it because it is super awesome.

Er, maybe "awesome" doesn't quite capture it. In a way, the story is quite tragic. It chronicles Bill Walsh's later years, after he has retired from coaching. During that time, he spent hours and hours composing a sort of Football "Bible" of sorts. Sitting at 550 pages, it reads like the super-unabridged version of Sun Tzu's Art of War for Football. Walsh covers every aspect of Football, from what speeches to deliver when to what food players should eat before meals.

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The underlying story, though, is how the book was as exhausting to Walsh as it is comprehensive. Writing it was often arduous, but that has more to do with Walsh's perfectionist nature than anything else. As Wickersham presents it, Walsh was constantly driven by perfectionism. He would labor over bad plays after a win. In fact, he knew it was time to retire when, after the last Super Bowl, he was exhausted rather than elated - drained rather than exuberant. The weight of coaching had taken its toll. The man was crumbling under the weight of his own genius. And it was a genius this franchise got to absorb.

In some ways, the parallels to Jim Harbaugh are obvious. Harbaugh is likewise and intense perfectionist, sometimes staying in his office until the wee hours of the morning. Both coaches are incredibly eccentric. They don't fit into the pre-packaged, media happy image that most people want them to. And, I think, that is what makes them so valuable. This franchise is on the upswing. We are a long way - a very long way - away from the dynasty of the ‘80s, but if there is anybody I would want to do the deed, I think Jim Harbaugh is about as good as it gets.

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