Is it Better to Burn Out than it is to Rust?

Hey hey, my my. Sage words from Neil Young. All this recent talk of Bill Walsh and his trials and tribulations in his position of being a head coach leads me to wonder about Jim Harbaugh. Walsh, as noted in some recent articles (thanks, Chico), was demonized by the intricacies of preparing for game day. His greatness was overshadowed by his all-encompassing need to be the best, the most prepared, and the most dominant coach of his day. He was fueled by Paul Brown’s rejection of him as his heir apparent, and the thought that Brown sabotaged Walsh’s name to other NFL execs. Even with the Super Bowl wins there was always room for improvement. To the detriment of his team, his family, and his health. Walsh always seemed unflappable, stoic, and above the usual rigamarole of guys like John Madden or Dick Vermeil. Guys who burned real bright and burned out quickly.

Enter Jim Harbaugh. He of course was the fair-to-middling quarterback for a bunch of teams who played with a burning desire not seen in too many players. He won through strength of will, hard work, and determination. His coaching style seems to be molded in the same vein. He took a moribund 4-7 USD program and turned them around in 3 years to win the Pioneer League and go 11-1. He took a lousy 4-8 Stanford football team and spun them into an NCAA powerhouse in 4 years, winning 2 bowl games, going 12-1 in 2010, and earning them a #4 ranking.

Is Harbaugh on a fast track to burnout? If anything, he’s even more spread out than most other coaches. He has 6 kids (3 grown), including a one-year old son. He does loads of charity work for his Harbaugh Hill foundation, the Jim Harbaugh foundation, he anuually takes a couple weeks off to travel to Peru to build houses in remote jungles, and is co-owner of an Indy-car racing team, among the day-to-day deal of raising a family. He’s not quite 50, but criminy, he’s either one of the best in the world at time management or he’s awake 22 hours a day. His coaching style resembles a volcano poised on the edge of erpution. His explosion over the red-flagged pass last weekend was pretty epic. He jumped, slammed the turf with both hands, and his headphones exploded in fear as they flew off his head. This has been repeated in one way or another about 40 times this season. He’s already been treated for an irregular heartbeat (and missed like 3 hours of coaching time) and his stress levels during game day is likely off the charts. His description of game day is like a 3 hour root canal with no anesthesia.

Can he keep this up? Harbaugh looks like he’s in good shape and takes care of himself, but with the heart problems already known about, and the fact that he’s as intense as any 12 people, you have to wonder how long he can keep this up. One thing is, he appears to be able to turn the coaching guy off and focus on other aspects of his life.

About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers, SF Giants, and Golden State Warriors fan
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23 Responses to Is it Better to Burn Out than it is to Rust?

  1. Irish Kevin says:

    Yeah, Madden said that a HC should retire after 10 years. and that sounds about right, look at Walshes health at the end of his carreer. not good. But like my reference in the previous thread. Great Head Coaches have egos too. they don’t know when to give up the game. Good Luck to Jim.

  2. Winder says:

    I think Jimbo’s been intense his whole life, it’s probably his metabolism and competitiveness. I say let him burn out, it’s the best way.

  3. Alleykat says:

    Agree Winder…Bet Jim and John had their share of fights growing up.He is a few years younger then John,but bigger and more fiesty.Bet Mom and Dad had their hands full with these 2.

    • Winder says:

      Lol. I bet they did too. I think there is only 1 yr. difference though. 50 & 49 yrs old. I think I read it that way.


    Jim Harbaugh needs to calm down. Let us not forget he had an heart issue where he had to have a procedure done.
    Jim does a good imitation of Ditka when he’s coaching and Ditka had multiple heart attacks in the course of his coaching career.
    Jim’s intensity makes 8 years a good ride for him and best for his health.

  5. Winder says:

    Tommy – Because of his heart it’s probably a good idea to mellow out some. I’m not sure he could do it anyother way though. Jimbo seems real intense during the game but during his post game shows he seems pretty calm to me. Maybe he gets it out of his system at gametime.

  6. Chico says:

    DA: Crabtree won’t be facing any charges.

    • 12th man says:

      good to have that out the way before too much distraction could happen.

      • NJ49er says:

        Got that right 12th.
        It’s almost a blessing of sorts too, that the focus is on the Harbaugh’s now.
        Kaep is getting his share too of course.

      • 12th man says:

        Hey NJ, glad to see you here. You got a score prediction for the game? Our buddy Phil runs a competition each week just for bragging rights. How do you think the game plays out?

      • NJ49er says:

        Greetings 12th-
        Don’t see you over on Skeebs’ blog anymore?
        I’m not quite sure how I see this game shaking out to be honest.
        Easy answer would be, defensive battle, low scoring.
        Somehow I’d like to think we surprise them though.
        Let’s say 24-13 Niners.

      • NJ49er says:

        We have to use our speed to win this one.
        Our Defense is younger and faster than theirs.
        Our Offense is capable of beating their LBs.
        Another situation like we saw in Atlanta.
        Work the crossing stuff and keep RayRay moving laterally.
        He won’t cover the likes of Vernon or Delanie.
        Get Frank, LMJ and Bruce into the pass routes too.
        LMJ in the open field is something I want to see.

        This all comes down to handling their pass rush and not giving up sacks.
        Perhaps spreading them out could prove to be profitable?
        See what Jim and Roman cook up for the fast indoor track.
        Randy gets a RING!

    • Alleykat says:

      It was a case of the “Crabs”. Case closed!!!

  7. Nipper says:

    Yeah but what is Dennis drinking? As for Sports one is either a hero or a bum a winner or a loser etc. The NFL approach of win the Super Bowl or bust is a foolish approach to success yet that’s what a lot of people want to buy. A lot of sports is pure disappointment and loss. Look at all the losing seasons of past coaches for just the Niners alone. Then Harbaugh comes along at just the right time to save the franchise. The Yorks look better and smarter. Fans are happy. Still come Super Bowl day, one better win and win big or else it’s wait until next year. We fans are a demanding sort.

    • Del Mar Dennis says:

      Right now I’m drinking an old bottle of whiskey given to me by my tailor at Christmas. Old? Tailor? Old Taylor. That’s a joke, son!

    • 12th man says:

      teah Nipper That’s what sets football apart from the other sports, the win or go home one and done aspect. I absolutely love it but never more than when we go to the SB, I’m a nervous wreck already.

  8. NJ49er says:

    Anyone looking for a good laugh?
    Check out this link –
    RI Hockey Club known as the ‘Nads’

    The Mascot is even funnier than the ‘Go Nads’ rally chant.

  9. Del Mar Dennis says:

    Have you guys seen Alex Boone in a lengthy interview? He’s a kick in the ass. Boone’s quickly becoming my new favorite Niner. Funny guy.

  10. unca_chuck says:

    New thread is up . . . . .

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