Better Coaching Career to this Point: Jim Harbaugh or Urban Meyer?


Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh have both undeniably had amazing coaching careers. The question is who has had the better career to this point?

Meyer has had success at every coaching stop he’s been to as a head coach. Meyer helped turn around a Bowling Green program that went 2-9 in the year prior to his arrival, to go 8-3 in his first season as a head coach. At his next stop, Meyer led the Utah Utes to a 12-0 record before bolting for Florida the next season.

From there the story becomes more familiar. Meyer went on to win two national titles at the University of Florida before leaving the school for health reasons. The program moved on from Meyer and he would go on to take over as the head coach at Ohio State. In his first season, Meyer led the Buckeyes to an undefeated record (12-0).

Jan 24, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer with the Coaches Trophy during the national championship celebration at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes are currently on top of the college football world, having won the first inaugural college football playoff following the 2015 season.  Meyer now sits at three national championships in his storied career. He becomes one of two coaches (along with Nick Saban of Alabama) to win a national title at two different schools.

We all know how great of a college coach Urban Meyer is, but some would say Meyer is just that, a college coach.  The resume speaks for itself, but is it better than the resume Jim Harbaugh brings to the table?

In Harbaugh’s first head coaching stint, he led the University of San Diego to back to back 11-1 seasons. After getting his feet wet at USD, Harbaugh left to become the coach at Stanford. He led a Stanford program more known for academics than football to their first 11-win season in program history in 2010. The Cardinal’s went on to win their first bowl game since 1996 that season, which also happened to be their first BCS Bowl win in program history.

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That season would mark Harbaugh’s last at Stanford. In 2011, Harbaugh took his talents to the NFL as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Harbaugh started fast, taking his team from rebuilding stages to a 13-3 record his first season, and an appearance in the NFC championship game. Harbaugh would go on to reach two more NFC title games in his four year run in San Francisco along with one Super Bowl appearance (a loss to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens). Harbaugh became the first coach in NFL history to reach the conference title game in his first three seasons as a head coach.

After a messy divorce with the 49ers, Harbaugh will take over a school in Michigan where he played and brought tremendous success during his playing days. It will now be up to him to bring that success back to Ann Arbor as a coach. In a place he knows and loves so dearly, finding the motivation to do so should be simple.

Apr 4, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When deciphering between Harbaugh and Meyer it comes down to a few simple questions. Would you take the championship coach at the college level who has won at multiple schools, but never the NFL? Or a coach who has won everywhere he has been including at the highest level?

Both coaches seem to have a lot of coaching left in them, and a lot of their future success or failures will come at the hands of each other. One thing’s for sure, there will be a clash of two coaching giants come November 28th in Ann Arbor.