As the head coach for Baltimore's NFL franchise, one would think that John Harbaugh gets autograph requests every time he steps out in Charm City.
That wasn't the case days after he took office.
"Actually, I got recognized by one person, and it was the second day after getting hired here," he said with a chuckle. "But he was from Philadelphia - New Town Square, where we lived. He said, 'Aren't you John Harbaugh? Congratulations, but we miss you here in Philadelphia.'
"I thought, 'I guess nobody recognizes me yet in Baltimore.'"
Things are beginning to change.
Harbaugh went on to explain that he is being noticed more and more when he goes out with his wife, Ingrid, and daughter, Alison. That building notoriety is evidence to the fact that the former Philadelphia Eagles coach is putting his singular touches on the franchise, from the locker room to his own office.
Harbaugh sat down for a question-and-answer session to mark the finalizing of the coaching team he will take into the 2008 campaign and a move into his first offseason as a head coach.
BR.com sat in on the proceedings. Here is what Harbaugh had to say:
How involved do you want to be in the meetings? How hands-on will you be?Harbaugh: "What does that mean, hands-on? I'll run the team meetings. I will have regular team meetings. Rex [Ryan] will be in charge of the defensive meetings. Cam [Cameron] will be in charge of the offensive meetings, and every position coach in charge of their own meetings. I think every coach has a role, just like every player takes one of the 53 roles on the team. Every guy is responsible for running their area. I think you need to give coaches the opportunity to do that.
"But, I'm going to be in a lot of those meetings. I'll be in every drill. I'll be walking around. I'm going to probably be chasing offensive linemen down the field and kickoff teams and defensive backs. As a head coach, my personality is probably going to be coaching everybody on the style [we want]. Which is fun. If you can do that as a coach, that's like the ultimate fun. I'm going to have fun out there. That's a rule. You don't get this opportunity and not enjoy it, right?"
Will the players enjoy it?"Yeah, sure. As long as I don't trip anybody up out there."
Have you talked to [Philadelphia Eagles head coach] Andy Reid about possible pitfalls of your first year as a head coach?
"I've talked to him two or three times a week. He's been a great resource. We talked about coaches, schedules, drills, minicamp and training camp. He's kind of alerted me to some land mines. We never really talked about what's different or the same. I think what's different is that as a head coach, you get hit from every angle, whereas a coordinator gets hit from basically one angle."
How have you made your imprint already on the team?Everything here was really well organized. Brian [Billick] was highly organized, so that gave a great template to come in here and work from. That gives you a chance to survey it and move it around to how you want it to fit your needs.
"The weight room is going to be totally different. The locker rooms are going to be different, the offices, as well.
How will the weight room change?"I think we're going to run a college strength and conditioning program with an NFL, cutting-edge science. The weight room is going to be high energy. It's going to be power. Chalk is going to be flying, weights are going to be clanging, and guys are going to be working. The guys will see that when they come in."
What about the locker room?
"Most NFL locker rooms are organized by position. What we did was we basically rolled the dice and just kind of shook everybody up in a bottle, threw it out there, and mixed all the lockers around. We just figured we wanted to have a tangible expression going forward of the picture of our football team. So, Kelly Gregg, I think, is next to Ed Reed.
"It's because you're with your position all day, every day. Offensive linemen are like a herd. [laughs] They go everywhere together. They don't need to be next to each other in the locker room, too. So, we even got the DBs in there with the offensive linemen and the linebackers and quarterbacks mixed around. Let's get to know some other guys. Let's find about each other so we can say, 'I know this guy. This guy is my brother. I care about this guy. I got this guy's back. I'm going to take care of this guy.'"
What has surprised you?"What has surprised me the most is how many people wanted to be Baltimore Ravens. How many coaches that had offers from five or six NFL teams, or one of the most highly regarded college assistant in the game would say, "I'm going to come to Baltimore and be a Raven.' I wasn't so sure we could be this successful in putting together a staff. Now, Jerry [Rosburg], he said, 'We'll find out in September how successful we were.' We don't know how fast all of this is going to come together, but it's going to come together. We're going to have a great football team. It's just a matter of when the process all [falls together], but when that happens, the challenge is going to be to keep it at a high level."
Have you noticed an excitement building around the team?
"There is just a buzz. There is generally an excitement when things change, but I'm going to do my best to validate it."