Ever since he burst on the Bay Area's collective radar as Stanford's head coach, Jim Harbaugh has been a bit of a puzzle to many people.
Competitive? Well, yeah. Innovative, energetic, bright? Check, check, and check.
But what people have been trying to figure out about Harbaugh is this: is he a funny guy or, you know, just a bit funny? Even when he gets laughs, we're often unsure of whether he really meant to be funny.
We've all sort of wanted to know about him what Harbaugh famously asked then-USC coach Pete Carroll during a postgame dustup in 2009: "What's your deal?"
Well, I think we're now seeing the answer, and it's being revealed in the unlikely crucible of Super Bowl week. Don't tell anyone, but Jim Harbaugh is a laugh riot.
Harbaugh's first three days in New Orleans haven't produced a Bill Walsh-as-hotel-doorman moment, but he's been relaxed with the media. And by "relaxed", I don't mean he's been a reincarnation of Bum Phillips, whose homespun humor is still funny years after the fact ("Earl Campbell may not be in a class of his own, but it don't take long to call the roll" was a classic).
But still, watching Harbaugh's bit about his son (he started riffing on little Jack's head size after a question about football safety) showed there really is a funny guy in there. When he wrapped it up with this, he had the reporters eating out of his hand: "As soon as he grows into that head, he's going to be something. It's early, but expectations are high for young Jack."
Well, expectations are high for Jack's dad, too. And now that Harbaugh has let the comedy cat out of the bag, there's no going back. I don't think we're going to see a laugh riot with Coach Harbaugh, but the Bay Area is fine with all sorts of offbeat characters. We just want to know that you're a character.
Oh, and taking your team to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years tends to improve your reviews, too.