ESPN reranks CFB coaches by playing careers, Jim Harbaugh at the top

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Michigan football fans would certainly trade this for him winning on the field as a coach, but considering that Jim Harbaugh suited up in a winged helmet, you don’t want to throw away the past for the present.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg went through all 130 FBS-level coaches and did a thorough re-rank considering how they did as a player instead of their coaching career. Of course, not every coach has played football — former Michigan pass game coordinator Jedd Fisch, now the head coach at Arizona, did not play the sport at any level, but still rose to the ranks of leading a college football program. Miami (FL) coach Manny Diaz played in high school, but not in college.

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But, of course, the Wolverines are led by one of the team’s favorite sons in Harbaugh, who was the starting quarterback in Ann Arbor, first at Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer before moving to Palo Alto, then again in The Big House. So when Rittenberg put together his list of coaches ranked by playing careers, naturally, Harbaugh came in at No. 1.

1. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines: Harbaugh retains the top spot after a decorated career as both a college and NFL quarterback. The son of college coach Jack Harbaugh finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1986, when he won Big Ten MVP and earned All-America honors. His career pass efficiency mark (149.6) led the NCAA for 12 years. A first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1987, Harbaugh played portions of 15 NFL seasons, reaching the Pro Bowl and earning AFC offensive player of the year honors with Indianapolis in 1995.

Still, college football is a sport both mired in tradition as well as ‘what have you done for me lately.’ Naturally fans would likely trade it all for current wins, even though Harbaugh’s legacy is strong as the team’s starting quarterback in the mid-1980s while his coaching legacy has yet to be fully decided.

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