Sibling rivalry with Midwestern sense

Sat Feb 2, 2013 3:34pm EST
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By Ned Randolph

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Reuters) - Through opposite demeanors, Jim and John Harbaugh approach the game of football with the same philosophy, relying on a run-heavy offense and stout defense sown from the gridirons of the Midwest.

The Harbaughs spent seven years in Ann Arbor, Michigan under the shadow of the College Football Hall of Fame coach Bo Schembechler and the University of Michigan, where their father worked as defensive backs coach.

On Sunday they will become the first brothers to coach against each other in a Super Bowl when Jim leads his San Francisco 49ers against John's Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.

Their Michigan stay was the longest stop for the itinerant family. The boys, who are 15 months apart in age, shared a single bedroom they once divided by tape daring the other to cross. They played junior and varsity football together, where friends recalled two fiercely competitive individuals with very different styles.

"Jim was the guru of football, at least he thought he was at that time," said their middle school coach, Robert Lillie.

"But I would say he was well beyond his years, and he definitely knew more than all the other kids. They took it as cockiness but he really understood the game.

"John was a lot quieter, but on the field he was a general. He directed guys in a way that didn't offend."

Jim Harbaugh played for Schembechler at Michigan and once publicly guaranteed a victory over Big Ten rival Ohio State. The coach said, "Hey buddy, you better be ready to back that up!" Michigan won 27-17.   Continued...

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (R) and his brother, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, appear at their joint press conference and stand next to the Vince Lombardi trophy ahead of the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 1, 2013. The San Francisco 49ers will meet the Baltimore Ravens for the NFL championship February 3. REUTERS/Jim Young