Yesterday, word came out that Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson was considering retirement after 26 years of domination in the English Premier League. Earlier today, Ferguson announced he would step down at the end of the season.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal had an interesting article discussing NFL head coaches who had a chance at surpassing even 20 years as a head coach. Bill Belichick leads the list as he is currently at 13 years in his position with the Patriots, and does not seem to be slowing down. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was included on the list, along with his brother:
His brother has a three-year head start, but we still see the younger Harbaugh as the superior head coach. Bill Walsh believed that coaches should change jobs every ten years or their team will tune them out, but we could see Harbaugh becoming synonymous with the 49ers organization like Walsh once was. With Jim Harbaugh, you can't discount the chance he'll do something wacky along the way that gets him in trouble.
The NFL record for longest coaching tenure of 29 years belongs to two men: Cowboys coach Tom Landry, and Packers coach Curly Lambeau. In baseball, Connie Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years.
How long could Jim Harbaugh stick around in San Francisco? He won't have fantastic success every year, but he and Trent Baalke have the franchise moving in the right direction to set up sustained long-term success. Additionally, when successful, the 49ers are one of the NFL's glamor franchises. It doesn't get much better than coaching a good 49ers team.
However, even if he can keep the team focused year in and year out after the ten years Bill Walsh mentioned, is he going to be able to stick it out that long? Is he going to want to stick it out that long?