On Wednesday night, the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team played North Carolina Central – the Big Ten, despite having an even number of teams now, still has bye weeks in basketball, leading to absurdities like this one – and welcomed a new manager to the sideline: San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

According to reports from Yahoo!*, the Indianapolis Star and the Indiana Daily Student, Harbaugh, in Indiana for the NFL scouting combine, was seen setting up chairs and eavesdropping on his brother-in-law Tom Crean’s frantic in-huddle coaching. Later, he intervened in the post-game press conference to explain that he had never sat on the bench before and was trying to find a way to “contribute.” As to the question of whether he was spying for his alma mater, Michigan, he replied, “Hell no!”

Predictably, Indiana head coach Tom Crean – whose life consists largely of careening from skimming motivational books* to recruiting to scribbling on white boards – used Harbaugh’s “work” for the Hoosiers as a teachable moment.

“It goes to show why he’s a very successful leader as a player and certainly now as a coach,” Crean said, “because there’s no job above him, there’s no job beneath him. It’s all about winning.”

Because many a basketball player has proclaimed, while hoisting whatever championship trophy toward the sky, that his ability to sit in a timely manner during timeouts made all the difference.

Ravens fans are left to wonder why the head coach of their team, John Harbaugh, was so noticeably absent. Is he not selfless? Does he not understand what it takes to Be A Champion? Did he demur upon finding out that he’d be relegated to water bottle filling?

The Harbaugh Bros. have long been competitive, but John’s in the lead thanks to the Ravens’ 16-6 win over the Niners on Thanksgiving. So why risk losing that edge by revealing yourself to be the inferior towel folder or lesser pre-game rebounder? There’s no upside to John showing up. None.

 

*For an interesting societal study, wade on in to the comments section on the Yahoo story. There’s quite the discussion of the word “menial” and its connotations, despite the word menial never showing up in the actual story itself (at least the version posted now.) That a goofy blurb about an NFL coach spending a night watching basketball and unfolding chairs could launch such a rancorous, to-the-bone discussion says something about us as a nation. But I’m not sure what. You guys can decide in the coments.

*Crean often tweets tidbits from Joyce Meyer, described on her website as “one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers.” But a message he sent about his players’ church-going habits has touched off a bit of controversy.