Right off the bat, let me make very clear that I anticipate that the Dallas Cowboys will get into the playoffs and that Jerry Jones will give head coach Jason Garrett a multi-year contract extension. OK, the distinction between "anticipate" and "really, really hope" may be a bit fuzzy there, but you get my drift. If Dallas gets into the playoffs, I don't think there is going to be any more discussion about whether Garrett deserves to keep his job.
That has not happened yet, of course, and in the wake of the Thanksgiving Day debacle against the Philadelphia Eagles, many are starting to feel doubts that it will. Those that believe a failure to make the postseason will lead to Garrett's termination are already wondering about who might be a candidate to replace him.
Anytime a well-known player or coach becomes available, there is speculation linking that name to the Cowboys, no matter how realistic the situation is. Recently, reports have emerged that the San Francisco 49ers are planning on parting ways with their head coach, Jim Harbaugh. These are from the normally very reliable Jay Glazer, and involve the team trying to trade Harbaugh, who has a year left on his contract.
Immediately, the Twitterverse filled with people talking about what a great choice he would be to replace Garrett. This is just one example, but there are many out there.
Can't wait for Jim Harbaugh to coach the Cowboys next year— Boobie Miles (@ChrisKC_9) November 28, 2014
At first I thought this was just random people out there, until I hit this Tweet.
Broaddus is not always right, and frankly seems to expect that Garrett will not survive this season, but he is not just some loudmouth off the street, either. It appears he is at least not against the idea.
And it makes sense, right? Harbaugh is a winner, he is well liked by his players, and Jerry Jones can afford whatever he wants. It would also be seen as one of the bold moves that Jones has been known to make in the past.
There's just one thing. Jim Harbaugh would then work for Jerry Jones, and based on his history, that would appear as likely to work out as having Santa Claus appear at a Philadelphia Eagles game.
This all ties into a question that seems to be overlooked by many of the people lusting for Harbaugh and his khakis to come stalk the Cowboys' sideline: Why exactly is San Francisco trying to dump a winning coach in the first place?
Well, according to an article by Mark Purdy, who covers the 49ers for the San Jose Mercury-News, it is pretty much the same thing that led to him wearing out his welcome at his previous college jobs.
Harbaugh comes from a family of coaches, as we know. They've all been successful because they put the focus squarely on winning, period. Anything that stands in the way of winning is considered an impediment and must be eliminated. The tricky question is, who gets to decide what those impediments are?
Basically, when he doesn't have what he wants from the team, he requests it. And requests it. And builds arguments as to why he has to have it. When he is involved in this process, he apparently suffers from a very specific form of aphasia, where he is completely and totally unable to grasp the meaning of the word "no". In his first college head coaching job, he could not accept the budgetary limits of being at a FCS level program, the University of San Diego. At Purdue, he insisted on disrupting tradition and doing things in ways that created real friction, but he essentially used his winning record and endless nagging to wear the administration down. Now, with the 49ers, he seems to have also worn through the patience of owner Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke. Our SBN sister site, Niners Nation, has a post up that says the friction between Harbaugh and Baalke is the driving force behind the trade rumors and the belief that, trade or no trade, Harbaugh will not be back as head coach in 2015. The friction has existed for some time, but was seen as manageable until some unspecified incident changed Baalke's mind.
Another thing that emerges about Harbaugh is that when he is the head coach of a team, it is strictly the Jim Harbaugh show, starring Jim Harbaugh, directed by Jim Harbaugh, written by Jim Harbaugh, with costumes designed by Jim Harbaugh.
All this makes it very hard to imagine him having any kind of a successful relationship with the most visible, in control owner in the NFL. Basically, Jerry Jones hiring Jim Harbaugh would be the equivalent of him hiring another Jimmy Johnson, on steroids and fresh out of an assertiveness training program. Just to put forward a rough estimate, what took four years to develop between Harbaugh and Baalke would probably blow up about three days into the OTAs in Dallas.
The whole idea of Jones bringing Harbaugh in as head coach just seems like it has no chance of ending well. The first major issue is likely to be over training camp. The 49ers hold theirs at the team's headquarters, rather than packing up and heading halfway across the country. The relocation to Oxnard is very much a marketing thing, and there is a very high likelihood that Harbaugh would not be on board with that. You can't be sure, of course, but a review of his history does make it seem like something that could easily become an issue. It would quite likely be just the first of many. Marketing is not winning, and therefore has no place in Harbaugh's agenda. Meanwhile, Jones is the high holy emperor of NFL marketing. Seems an awkward fit.
Harbaugh is a very good coach, who so far has had a very limited shelf life wherever he goes. Jerry Jones has given every indication he wants a coach who will be with him for the long-term, which has a lot to do with why Jason Garrett is getting his chance, again, to prove he can take the team past the regular season. Further, Garrett has probably done as good a job of managing his owner and general manager as any coach that has worked for Jones. From reading about Harbaugh, I'm not sure that is even a concept for him. His idea is that owners and GMs are to be corrected and told what they need to provide him. It is just about the completely wrong approach in Dallas.
For many Cowboys fans, Harbaugh looks like he would be a wonderful hire. Based on his past, it would more likely be a raging dumpster fire in many respects.