Jack and Jackie Harbaughs watched IU defeat Penn State Wednesday night as they make their way to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – They told Jack and Jackie Harbaugh that their lives were going to be instantly insane if both of their sons coached their way into Super Bowl XLVII.
They were wrong.
"It's been beyond that," Jack Harbaugh said.
"The phone never stops," said his wife, Jackie.
Take the biggest sporting event in America. Put big brother (John, Ravens) on one sideline. Put younger brother (Jim, 49ers) on the other. What can a mother and father do, other than enjoy the dance and ask that you not ask them which team they're cheering for?
Drive from their home in suburban Milwaukee to Bloomington to visit their daughter (Joani), son-in-law (Tom Crean, the Indiana University basketball coach) and three of their grandchildren.
So there they were, the father and mother of the First Family of Football, tucked in the crowd at Assembly Hall Wednesday night as Crean's seventh-ranked IU team dispatched Penn State, 72-49.
Jack, the former Western Kentucky head football coach, tugged on his red IU baseball cap and cheered from his spot two rows behind the Indiana bench. He didn't have to worry about Super Bowl questions. His seatmates were former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and Steve Zeller, father of IU all-American, Cody.
Sure he was. But Jack Harbaugh remains as humble and unflappable as he was when he coached the Hilltoppers.
"This is final proof that even a blind squirrel does find an acorn occasionally," Harbaugh said, with a laugh.
Jackie relaxed from the other side of the court, enjoying the game with Joani. She reminisced again about the story that she and her husband watched the Michigan-Ohio State football game during the break between their wedding and reception – and then put an exclamation point on the weekend by going to the New York Giants-Cleveland Browns game at old Municipal Stadium the next day.
"Don't forget that we had breakfast at White Castle on Sunday morning," she said. She was not kidding.
The Harbaughs drove from Milwaukee Wednesday. Jack Harbaugh was convinced it was officially getting silly in his neighborhood when he looked outside his front door Monday and spotted a television cameraman shooting video of their home.
The phone has been ringing the way you would expect their phone to ring – incessantly. Jack and Jackie could sit in a TV studio from now until the game kicked off at the Louisiana Superdome Feb. 3 and not have time to fulfill all the interview requests. They haven't even had time to see the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, the one that features John and Jim nose-to-nose on the cover.
The NFL, Ravens, 49ers and IU have coordinated a national teleconference that Dad, Mom and Sister will join on Thursday. There will be plenty of questions about how they raised the two dynamic sons, and how they plan to watch the game. You can be sure they'll mix in plenty of stories about the work that Jim and John did to help Jack keep the football program healthy at Western Kentucky.
The Harbaughs will join their sons in New Orleans next Tuesday. Crean and his family will make the trip on Super Bowl Sunday, less than 24 hours after Indiana plays Michigan, which could be the Number One team in the nation by the Feb. 2 game.
"We don't play again after that until Thursday (at Illinois)," Crean said. "There's no way I'm missing that."
There's no way anybody in the family should miss it – even though it will be difficult to watch.
"That's extremely hard," Crean said. "And it's not, well, that one's going to win and one's going to lose.
"One is going to have the most ultimate moment professionally and one is going to be very down from the result. The thing that makes it such a unique family is the one that's at the top of the mountain that day is going to feel a lot worse than the one that isn't. That's why it's such a unique family."
The First Family of Football for the next two weeks.