Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh speaks to reporters to sum up the 2014 season during news conference at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh speaks to reporters to sum up the 2014 season during news conference at the Under Armour Performance Center. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

When NBC Sports executives began planning their Super Bowl XLIX pregame show before the season even began, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was their top choice as a guest analyst.

It turns out the Ravens' 35-31 AFC divisional round loss to the New England Patriots was NBC's, and the Super Bowl viewers' gain.

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"John Harbaugh was our target from before the season began because he's got Super Bowl experience, and he is an engaging personality," NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said on a conference call Wednesday. "It's an easy selection. After they got knocked out in the divisional round, that was our first thought, to reach out to John.

"Obviously, having just played the Patriots three weeks prior, it gives us an incredible insight on this team and in this time frame," Flood added. "There's a real relevance to this, and that's why we think it's an extra-good add to the team."

Flood said Harbaugh will be part of several aspects of the show, including segments with host Bob Costas and the Super Bowl pregame show panel of host Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, and Hines Ward. He could also be part of the halftime and postgame shows, Flood said.

"He's totally engaged in being a part of this team," he said.

Flood said Harbaugh has already reached out to his friend Tony Dungy to discuss the show, and he will arrive later this week to begin preparation.

"The present-day coach can add an awful lot," Dungy said on Wednesday's conference call. "You can ask them about preparing for these teams, who you have to take away and what types of things you would do. I think John's going to bring tremendous value that way, just talking about defending the Patriots, attacking the Patriots, defending the Seahawks, attacking the Seahawks.

"I think we're going to have some great, not only fun with him, but informative things where he can get on that clicker and diagram plays for the fans and the audience and say here's the problem, here's what makes it tough defending Rob Gronkowski, because of A, B, and C. he was just doing it three weeks ago."

That will extend to the more exotic aspects of coach Bill Belichick's game plan as well, with Harbaugh having gotten recent looks at Julian Edelman's touchdown pass and New England's trickery with its offensive linemen and eligible receivers.

"That'll be one of the things we'll talk about: Knowing what you know now, going back, would you defend it differently? How do you prepare for this? It'll be great," Dungy said.

Members of the NBC panel said on the conference call that they will also deal with the deflated football scandal in an appropriate way, though it wasn't clear whether Harbaugh would be part of that discussion.

Dan Patrick, the host of the pregame show, said regular analysts like Dungy and Rodney Harrison have a "treasure trove" of football anecdotes and information inside of them, and Harbaugh is likely the same.

"I will tell you that Super Bowl Sunday brings out something different in the analyst, because it takes them back to when they were there," Patrick said.

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