« Dan Henning takes another step in his career | Main | The biggest loser? Stephen Ross »

Is it the money that drives Jim Harbaugh?

My guess is something significant will happen today. It will either get done with Jim Harbaugh or it won't because, after all, there is only so much money even billionaire Stephen Ross can push across the negotiating table at someone who has never been an NFL head coach.

No, the Dolphins didn't have their Rooney Rule candidate interviewed yet by early Thursday evening. So they had not actually offered Harbaugh a contract to become Miami's coach. That's all agent stuff anyway.

More importantly, Harbaugh absolutely was not in the bag in a serious, real manner. He wasn't agreed. He obviously wasn't signed. And ESPN even reported there were overtures by the Denver Broncos to interview him.

It is seriously not a slam dunk, folks regardless of what any radio show (other than mine) may try to represent or front or whatever the swag term is these days. It ain't done!

So I would estimate this as 55-45 that Miami closes the deal and Harbaugh replaces Tony Sparano as the new head coach. Yes, forty-five percent is a very high number. Very high. I would be inclined to give better odds if I didn't have so little confidence in Ross and his helpers.

Ross, you must remember, isn't having such a good week hiring a new coach. He struck out with Bill Cowher and didn't land Jon Gruden, either, for whatever reason.

So Ross is 0-for-2 in my book and this at-bat is close to over.

Having said all that, what happens today will go a long way in telling us what kind of man Jim Harbaugh is. I remember the Dolphins used to play against Harbaugh back in the days he was the Indianapolis quarterback and the Colts were in Miami's division.

He was a fiesty, competitive, guy. I remember he called out a Miami reporter on a conference call once for something the guy had written months beforehand. I thought it was cool.

Here is what I think is not too cool:

I don't feel all that enthusiastic about a college coach making the jump to the NFL because those do not ever often succeed anymore -- and don't tell me Pete Carroll because he was an NFL head coach first and 7-9 is successful in the NFC West but only good enough to get you replaced in the AFC East.

I don't feel all that comfortable about a man who interviews for a job knowing someone still holds that job.

And I'm not at all impressed by someone who is driven by money.

Let that last point marinate for a moment ...

.... I am not saying that is what motivates Harbaugh. Maybe the guy just wants to take on the most ludicrous situation that so far has been offered him and turn that thing around and become a legend. Maybe the guy is all about the challenge.

But I'm sure the money is moving Harbaugh, too, because by all accounts, he has money on his mind.

Remember Pete Carroll once famously asked Harbaugh, "What's your deal, man?" Without missing a beat, Harbaugh responded to the higher paid Carroll, "Nevermind that, I want your deal!"

By any logical accounting that does not involve dollars, Harbaugh should be taking the San Francisco 49ers job. That job means he doesn't have to move himself or his family. That job means he goes to the NFC West where a division title is very much within reach next season. That job means he's going to have more draft picks the next couple of years than he'll have with Miami and the ones this year will be better than Miami's. That job means Harbaugh will come into a community where he is already something of a hero for turning Stanford into a relevent football team.

The Miami job?

This job puts him on a third-place team behind two playoff teams. This job puts him behind a 14-2 division champion and Super Bowl favorite. This job won't offer a second-round pick in 2011. This job promises lumps from the best in the business -- Bill Belichick -- twice each season. This job also comes with an owner who doesn't mind chopping off a coach at the knees after a 7-9 season. (Note to Harbaugh: You see what Ross is doing to Sparano this year? That could be you in three years.)

So what's so great about the Miami job, you ask?


It walks, baby. And if reports of Ross offering between $7-$8 million per year can be believed, it not only walks, it runs, and does cartwheels, too. There is also the matter of no state tax in Florida while Californians pay a 10 percent state tax to a state government going bankrupt.

Factor in the reports that San Francisco kind of low-balled Harbaugh with an offer around $4.5 millionish per year and you see where Miami owns the treasure trove advantage.

Perhaps that is all Harbaugh needs to hear. Perhaps that is what motivates him to take the Miami job. Security for one's family is a powerful attraction for a man. I get that. Money is good.

But I also get the love of money is a terrible, terrible thing.