The ‘Harbaugh Bowl,’ from Jay’s perspective
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 20:02
Late Thursday evening, Jay Harbaugh was asked where he watched last year’s Super Bowl.
After thinking about it for a moment, the 23-year-old Oregon State University graduate admitted he couldn’t remember.
Can you blame him?
He’s a bit preoccupied these days — preparing for Super Bowl XLVII, which he’ll watch from the Baltimore Ravens’ coaches’ box at the Superdome in New Orleans, La.
Jay Harbaugh, who graduated from OSU with a degree in sociology last June, works for his uncle, John Harbaugh, the Ravens’ head coach. His dad, Jim Harbaugh, is the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach.
John and Jay Harbaugh’s Ravens will face Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl — otherwise known as the “Harbaugh Bowl.”
For the most part, Jay has ignored the buzz that has surrounded his family — the most talked-about family in America — for the past week-and-a-half.
“Some people may not believe me, but you’re really not interested in all that stuff because it doesn’t matter,” Jay said. “It’s fun and exciting, I suppose, but the task at hand is winning the Super Bowl.”
While the brother vs. brother angle has been beaten to the ground by the national media, the son vs. father angle has largely flown under the radar.
Jay said that’s by design, adding the Ravens denied “30 or 40” outlets that requested an interview with him this week.
“The easiest and best solution was to opt out of most those things,” Jay said. “I don’t want [John and Jim] to have to answer questions about me.”
On Sunday, Jay will track the defensive personnel on the field for the 49ers and the coverages they’re in, among other things.
Asked if he’ll be nervous on the sport’s biggest stage, Jay responded in a way a seasoned NFL coach would respond — not someone who’s eight months removed from being a run-of-the-mill college student.
“I’ve been at four Civil Wars,” Jay said. “I’m fully emotionally prepared. I don’t get nervous. There’s no pressure for anybody because you’re prepared. We know what we have to do. We know what it’s going to take.”
For the four years he was at OSU, Jay helped out as an undergraduate assistant for Mike Riley’s football team. He helped with the little things — stuff the “coaches didn’t have time for,” he said — such as working with the scout team at practice and signaling in the offensive plays from the sideline during games.
He interned with the 49ers in the summer of 2011, but decided to move across the country after college to work for his uncle rather than pursue an opportunity under his father.
“I was probably more eager to be around my uncle because I wasn’t around him as much growing up,” Jay said. “There’s no clear-cut reason for one over the other. They’re both great organizations. I guess I wanted to start going my own direction.”
Jay, whose ultimate goal is to become a head coach one day, said his role with the Ravens is “ambiguous, an intern-assistant type of thing.” He primarily works with the offense. He’s not listed as a coach on the Ravens’ official website.
“There’s rules about who can do what things, so my role is loosely defined so I can be allowed to help in various areas,” Jay said. “I’m hoping to be here next year, because I don’t have plans to go anywhere else.”
Jay said he hasn’t talked to his father much since the teams began their preparations.
“We’ve texted back and forth a little, but that’s pretty much it,” he said. “There’s nothing really to talk about. We’re both locked in to the task at hand. There will be plenty of time for all that afterwards.”
How soon afterwards?
“I don’t know, it probably depends if we win or lose,” Jay said.
Either way, somebody from the ultra-competitive Harbaugh family is going to be left unhappy.
“I hate losing more than I like winning,” Jay said. “I don’t even want to think about it. Can’t entertain thoughts like that. Just don’t want to, no thanks.”
Grady Garrett, managing editor
On Twitter @gradygarrett