San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is in New Orleans now, busily preparing his team to face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl, the National Football League’s 47th annual championship game, on Sunday, Feb. 3.
The game, and Harbaugh’s appearance in it, will provide the University of San Diego a unique opportunity to publicly celebrate his achievement and to wish its former head football coach — from 2004 to 2006 — well.
The university has placed an advertisement in the game’s souvenir program. The ad (pictured, at right) features an elated Harbaugh hoisting USD’s 2005 Pioneer Football League championship trophy.
The game program has a circulation of 900,000 and the projected audience is 3.6 million, based on an average of four readers per copy, according to Coreen Petti, USD associate vice president of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships.
Beyond those who will buy the publication at the game site, Petti said the souvenir program is available at national newsstands, specialty retail stores, local airports and through officially sponsored NFL and Super Bowl websites. The magazine will be available on NFL.com, which is expected to receive more than 50 million unique visits and approximately 500 million page views during this time.
The Toreros football program has also been one to watch. While the program won a share of the PFL title in 2011 and 2012 under recently departed coach Ron Caragher, Harbaugh’s success in his first-ever head coach job raised USD’s profile nationally.
Current Executive Director of Athletics Ky Snyder hired Harbaugh in December 2003. Harbaugh posted a 29-6 record in three seasons while patrolling the Walter J. Zable Field sidelines at Torero Stadium. His teams won back-to-back PFL titles in 2005 and 2006 with identical 11-1 records. Harbaugh moved on to Stanford after the latter title, but the 2007 USD team, coached by Caragher, won a third straight PFL title led by a stellar season by senior quarterback Josh Johnson.
Harbaugh recruited Johnson to USD and coached him for three seasons. Johnson is the lone USD football player ever selected in the NFL Draft (2008, Tampa Bay, fifth round). Harbaugh also coached Torero defensive lineman Eric Bakhtiari, who this season appeared in five games with the San Francisco 49ers.
Harbaugh, who never appeared in a Super Bowl during his 15-year playing career from 1987 to 2001, will make his second Super Bowl appearance as a coach. He was an offensive assistant on the Oakland Raiders’ coaching staff in 2002 when they played and lost to Tampa Bay. Ten seasons later, Harbaugh has another chance for a championship, although he’ll have to do it by defeating Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother. John, 50, is one year older than Jim.
— Ryan T. Blystone