When Tom O’Brien abandoned the Heights for greener pastures at North Carolina State in 2007, BC was forced to find a man to lead the program. Then-BC athletic director Gene DeFillipo put on a full-court press to find another talented head coach. The search yielded plenty of good candidates and the Eagles nearly landed a program-changing hire in John Harbaugh.
After winning his first Super Bowl, Harbaugh reflected on his journey to the top of the NFL in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News on Monday, which included being turned down for a number of college jobs, including BC’s.
“I mean, I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation walking down the hallway after winning the Super Bowl,” Harbaugh said of his career arc. “To me, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation, in all honesty.”
Harbaugh specified that Syracuse and UCLA didn’t hire him for their openings and indicated that BC wouldn’t even talk to him during their interview process.
“I came in second for the UCLA job to Rick Neuheisel [in '08], and got close in a couple of other [college] jobs. But other jobs, I couldn’t even get an interview,” Harbaugh said.
DeFillipo refuted that notion and disclosed that he had interviewed the elder Harbaugh back in 2007, according to the Boston Herald, even referring to Harbaugh as a “great candidate.”
“I thought he was a great person, and a great coach,” DeFilippo said. “[Former Philadelphia Eagles coach] Andy Reid told me he was as good a coach as he had on his staff. So to the best of my recollection, we interviewed John Harbaugh. He was very well-organized. I can’t say enough good things about him. I could not have been more impressed.’”
Impressed or not, DeFillipo clearly dropped the ball on this pick. Rather than taking Reid’s advice and hiring the championship-caliber coach, he settled on a two-year loaner in Jeff Jagodzinski.
Not to say that Harbuagh would’ve stayed much longer than Jags, but if what Jim Harbaugh did for Stanford is any measure, then BC football would at least be in a much better position than they are now.