The Ravens started their coaching search with a list of 30 names, and John Harbaugh stood out as a future star. The 18-day process came to an end Friday evening, as Harbaugh became the third coach in franchise history.
Harbaugh, the former secondary coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, joined the club after a long day of meetings with owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens' search committee.
Harbaugh was last with Andy Reid (left) and the Eagles.
The coach arrived at Ravens headquarters at 9:30 a.m. and agreed to a deal eight hours later.
The news, first reported on BaltimoreRavens.com, was announced to the media by Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne at 6:05 p.m., around the same time Harbaugh slid into a limousine bound for Philadelphia.
Byrne said that Harbaugh wanted to share the news with his wife, Ingrid, and parents before meeting with reporters. He will be officially introduced Saturday at a noon press conference.
"I'm a football coach, and I am excited to be the head coach of the Ravens," said Harbaugh. "It's a big job and an opportunity to work with great people. I cannot wait to get started."
Known for his energy and charisma, the 45-year-old was a successful special teams coordinator with the Eagles for nine years before taking over the secondary. Despite no previous head coaching experience and lack of time as an offensive or defensive coordinator in the NFL, Harbaugh was a hot candidate for recent coaching opportunities.
Harbaugh was a finalist for the UCLA job that went to former Ravens offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel last month, and he was in the running for the open Miami Dolphins position in 2007.
A former defensive back at Miami (Ohio), Harbaugh began his coaching career in 1984 at Western Michigan with running backs and outside linebackers. He joined the Eagles in 1998 after collegiate stints at Pittsburgh, Morehead State, Cincinnati and Indiana.
Under Harbaugh, Philadelphia's special teams units were consistently ranked near the top of the NFL. From 2000-05, the Eagles boasted to best special teams over that six-year period.
Harbaugh switched to the Eagles' secondary to beef up his coaching resume.
RAVENS COACHING HISTORY
Hire date: 2/15/96
Age at hire: 65
Career record (regular season): 16-31-1
Career record (postseason): n/a
Hire date: 1/19/99
Age at hire: 45
Career record (regular season): 80-64
Career record (postseason): 5-3
Division Championships: 2 ('03, '06)
Conference Championships: 1 ('00)
Super Bowl Championships: 1 ('00)
Hire date: 1/18/08
Age at hire: 45
"John wants to be a head coach some day and maybe a defensive coordinator," said Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid at the time of Harbaugh's move. "This gives him a different responsibility. It gives him a professional opportunity to step out of that special teams mode and it strengthens our staff."
The first priority for Harbaugh is to begin assembling a staff of his own, which may have begun during his trip back to Philadelphia.
"I think he'll start calling some people on his way to Philadelphia right now, after he calls his wife and his parents," said Byrne.
One coach that could join Harbaugh is former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, who was the coordinator at Cincinnati in 1996, when Harbaugh was the assistant head coach for the Bearcats.
Ryan is currently being considered by the Atlanta Falcons for their vacant head coaching position.
Harbaugh certainly has football in his blood. His father, Jack, coached for 41 years and is currently the associate athletics director at Marquette. His brother, Jim, is now the head coach at Stanford.
Fans may remember Jim Harbaugh as the Ravens' quarterback for the 1998 campaign.
"I couldn't be happier for John and his entire family," Reid said. "He has worked very hard to become a head coach in the National Football League. I know how much this means to him. He is very deserving of this opportunity and we will miss him in Philadelphia.
"John is a good friend, a great coach, and he has played a vital role in the success we have shared here. I wish him all the best in Baltimore."