Chapter 1: Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss

January 12, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

job. It was like a dream trip and despite being in love with their lives in Bloomington they were intoxicated with the notion that the NFL could be calling.

“Cam really wanted me to stay and Ingrid was really excited about the chance to be in the NFL,” Harbaugh said. “I was in a no-lose situation. I’d always dreamed of coaching in the NFL, but we were building something at Indiana. I started talking myself into thinking we were going to Philadelphia.”

Harbaugh didn’t realize it at the time but the Eagles were also heavily courting Clemson special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who had been with the Tigers for five seasons after two at South Carolina. He was a seasoned, big-time special teams coach who was also well qualified to make a jump to the NFL.

That Saturday morning at 10 a.m., Harbaugh got a call in Bloomington from Lombardi that he had finished in second place. The Eagles were offering the job to Bisaccia.

John and Ingrid were heartbroken.

Somehow over the previous few days of interviews in Indy and flights to Philly, the Harbaughs really believed they were headed to the NFL and had sets their sights on that goal and its significance. Ingrid was inconsolable.

Almost two hours later, the phone rang again.

It was Lombardi.

Amidst some tears and some hopeful thoughts about their good fortunes at Indiana and the Big 10, Lombardi called to say that the Eagles had reconsidered and wanted to offer Harbaugh the job.

Harbaugh was floored. He was headed to the NFL as the special teams coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Turns out that some powers inside the Eagles’ brass knew that Bisaccia had four small children and felt very leery about Ray Rhodes’ tenure in Philly and were concerned about displacing a gainfully employed special teams coach with a family at Clemson and felt better about bringing in Harbaugh because he didn’t have kids. In case the 1998 Eagles season didn’t work out for Rhodes and his staff, they felt Harbaugh would be more likely to get a job next year if he were back on the street.

Harbaugh essentially got the job because he didn’t have kids. Go figure.

“You couldn’t go wrong hiring either guy,” said one person who was involved in the Eagles hiring process. “But you have to realize how hard it is to move people around when they get fired in this business. It was essentially a one-year job with no promises, no stability. Guys in this business don’t want to take a job with a lame duck coach with one year left on his deal if they have kids and if they already have a good job. Fans don’t know about what these firings do to coaches and families. It’s a brutal business for that, and if you have any heart you consider it because it’s real. Not every job is the right job and no job is long-term. You just accept that when you get into the business.”

Turns out, Bisaccia was hired the following year at Mississippi by David Cutcliffe and wound up becoming an NFL special teams coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 under Jon Gruden and immediately got his Super Bowl ring that January in San Diego. Bisaccia went to the San Diego Chargers in 2010 and will be the special teams