Jason Garrett isn’t interested in thinking about what could have been.
The Dallas Cowboys head coach was once the top candidate for the Ravens coaching job in 2008, when the team was looking for a replacement for Brian Billick. After interviewing for the job and even negotiating with the Ravens, Garrett opted to remain in Dallas.
And the Ravens hired John Harbaugh.
"We certainly have no regrets and I’m sure the Ravens don’t have any regrets either,” Garrett said Wednesday. "One of the approaches I’ve always taken in my life is you make decisions and you go forward.”
The decision worked out for both sides.
"Sometimes the best deal you make is the one you didn't make," Ravens President Dick Cass said during a 2010 interview with BaltimoreRavens.com, referencing the team’s happiness with John Harbaugh at the helm.
But just how close were the Ravens to hiring Garrett? The font office thought they had a deal.
"After Jason indicated he wanted to be our head coach, we began negotiations with his agent Wednesday night and, after several hours of discussion, thought we had an agreement on compensation,” Cass wrote in a 2008 column. "However, Jason decided later that night that he wanted to stay in Dallas as offensive coordinator."
Instead, it was Harbaugh who caught on in Baltimore right away, and took the Ravens to the AFC championship in his first season at the helm. Garrett stayed in Dallas as the NFL’s highest-paid coordinator, and eventually took over head-coaching duties in 2010.
As the Ravens welcome the Cowboys to Baltimore this weekend, it will mark the first-ever meeting between the respective head coaches.
"John Harbaugh has done a fantastic job with that team,” Garrett said. "They’re one of the elite franchises in the league.”
At the time of the coaching search five years ago, Garrett and Harbaugh were contrasting candidates.
Garrett was the offensive coordinator for a Cowboys team that just finished a 13-3 season and was one of the hottest names in NFL coaching circles. He was already the "head coach in-waiting” for the Cowboys, but the Ravens had interest in plucking him away.
Conversely, Harbaugh was an under-the-radar candidate at the time. The longtime special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t have the same buzz around him as Garrett, but he blew the Ravens away during his interview and was excited about taking over a team that had a lot of lingering questions after a 5-11 season.
Harbaugh quickly guided the Ravens back to winning form, as they drafted quarterback
"It speaks for itself, you know,” veteran safety
Garrett is in his second full season as the Cowboys head coach. Dallas went 8-8 last year and narrowly missed the playoffs, and Garrett is 15-13 overall as the team’s head coach.
As Garrett looks back on the interview process and wonders how things could have been different, he has nothing but positive things to say about the Ravens.
"It’s a remarkable organization. Their history of success has been outstanding. The people are really special,” Garrett said. "It starts with the people and I was really fortunate to be able to go through that process."