Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh guided his team to the playoffs in each of his first five years and reached the pinnacle of the sport with a Super Bowl victory in 2013.
For his leadership and record of success, Harbaugh has earned the United States Sports Academy’s 2013 Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award. He received the award Monday, Nov. 11 from Al Cantello, a longtime Academy national faculty member who is the U.S. Naval Academy cross country coach and was an American Olympic javelin thrower.
“This is something that means a lot personally and for our family,” said Harbaugh, whose father, Jack, attended the award presentation. “It means so much for a coach and the son of a coach and for our family, too, to be involved with such an award. So, thank you very much, it will be treasured.”
The award is presented annually to a men’s coach who has experienced outstanding achievement and has exhibited a high standard of propriety, imagination, and innovation as a character-builder in the tradition of great teacher-coaches. Amos Alonzo Stagg is one of the winningest college football coaches in history with 314 wins and his imagination and innovation established many sports traditions, strategies and character-building lessons still used today.
Harbaugh’s motivational ability and physical yet disciplined style of play guided the Ravens to the Super Bowl, despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the National Football League with eight of the team’s 16 games against foes who made the playoffs the year before.
In the end, Baltimore earned an exciting victory over the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013. It was a rare event that matched the wits of head coaches who were brothers when Baltimore’s John Harbaugh faced San Francisco’s Jim a Harbaugh in what many labeled the “Harbowl.”
At the beginning of the Ravens’ championship season, Harbaugh explained to The Baltimore Sun the concepts and principles that he is known to always preach to his players.
“In the end, the team belongs to the team,” Harbaugh said. “Yeah, I’m part of that but so is every player and every coach and every person involved. It’s our team. It’s not the coach’s way. It’s the Ravens’ way. It’s how our team operates. It’s having a shared ownership of everything we do. It’s never been my way or the highway here. But the principles, they are rock solid. Like we say to our team, principles are written in stone, methods are not. We will not back down from our principles.”
Harbaugh made the rare leap from NFL position coach to head coach without first serving as an offensive or defensive coordinator in 2008. Harbaugh started his head coaching career on Sept. 7, 2008, on the right foot when the Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Until then, no team had ever won when a coach and a starting quarterback—Joe Flacco—were both making their NFL debut.
Besides adding Super Bowl champion to his achievements, under Harbaugh’s leadership the Ravens also have appeared in two AFC Championship games. His career head coaching record after the 2013 season was 63–30 for a .677 winning percentage.