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Jim Harbaugh on Texas job: 'Are you trying to be funny?'


In a profession filled to the brim with Type A personalities, there may not be a more competitive football coach than Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers. So don't be surprised that Harbaugh scoffed at the idea he might trade in the NFL for the potential vacancy at Texas, seemingly treating the question as a personal affront.

"Are you trying to be funny?" Harbaugh said at his Wednesday press conference when asked about possible interest from the Longhorns. "I don't ever talk about any job other than the one I have."

Harbaugh arrived at Stanford -- coming off a 1-11 season, mind you -- and immediately called out the top coach in the college ranks at the time in Pete Carroll of USC. The Trojans were in the middle of its astonishing run of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and BCS bowl appearances, but Harbaugh did not care one bit.

That confidence was rewarded with a shocking 24-23 win over USC on its home field, one of the biggest upsets in the history of college football. Two years later, the Cardinal delivered a 55-21 humbling on that same field, leading to the memorable "What's your deal?" encounter between Carroll and Harbaugh.

With the 49ers, Harbaugh got into it with Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz in a heated post-game handshake. Harbaugh showed little interest for the "Brothers Bowl" storylines against John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.

And Harbaugh is supposed to trade in the highest level of competition to glad-hand Texas boosters and politicians and tape shows for the Longhorn Network? Excuse me while I laugh. If and when Harbaugh wins one Super Bowl, he will celebrate for maybe five minutes and then start figuring out how to win a second.

That is how Harbaugh is wired, what allowed him to become "Captain Comeback" as a quarterback and then build Stanford and the 49ers into championship contenders almost immediately. Even with its piles of money, unreal facilities, and access to recruits, Texas would represent a concession, an admission of failure that he couldn't cut it.

There is no sentimentality here, no yearning for the rah-rah 'amateurism' of the college game. I once asked him if as both a coach and a coach's son he could empathize with Charlie Weis after delivering the result that ended Weis' tenure at Notre Dame, and Harbaugh looked at me like he simply couldn't be bothered to waste a second thinking about Weis now that he no longer had to game-plan or recruit against him.

Maybe the status of being the highest-paid coach in the history of North American sports -- say a 10-year, $100 million contract -- could pique Harbaugh's interest, along with the chance to dominate a mediocre Big 12 that would all but guarantee a berth in the new college football playoff every season.

Everything else about Harbaugh indicates Texas would be a non-starter.

But in the all-but-impossible scenario that Carroll were to take over at Oklahoma, now that might be enough to get Harbaugh all hot and bothered and into burnt orange.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.



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