The southwestern Ohio city of Oxford will never be mistaken for Tuscaloosa or South Bend, but Oxford's place in football history is undeniable -- and seemingly growing every year.
In fact, Miami of Ohio, the university situated in that city of about 22,000, has had such a prolific run of alumni who have gone on to success as coaches that a series of statues outside the school's Yager Stadium recognizes Miami as "the Cradle of Coaches."
The display that includes Paul Brown, Bo Schembechler, Weeb Ewbank, Earl "Red" Blaik, Carm Cozza, Paul Dietzel and John Pont, is about to get another: John Harbaugh.
Miami announced that Harbaugh, a 1984 graduate of the school, will be formally inducted into the university's Cradle of Coaches and will be immortalized with a life-size bronze statue. The statue will portray Harbaugh as coach of the Super Bowl champion Ravens, according to the university, and the dedication of the statue and Harbaugh's formal induction will take place in early 2014.
The statues at the Cradle of Coaches Plaza honor Miami graduates who have earned recognition as national collegiate or professional coaches of the year, who have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame or the Pro Football Hall of Fame, or whose teams won national collegiate or Super Bowl championships.
Harbaugh joins Ewbank among Miami alums who won the Super Bowl as coaches; Brown won three NFL titles in the 1950s as the head coach of the Browns before the Super Bowl existed, and Ewbank won a pair of NFL titles with the former Baltimore Colts as well.
“Miami is a very special place and as anyone who played or coached at Miami knows that the Cradle of Coaches is a great honor,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “To me, there is no greater recognition in coaching. To be included with these great men is something only dreamed about. I am most grateful to Miami, which is to say the coaches, teammates and professors that made a positive impact on an impressionable young guy.
The Ravens coach, who faced his brother Jim in the Super Bowl, continued about the importance of his coaches at Miami of Ohio.
"Coach (Tom) Reed gave me an opportunity and taught me important lessons about becoming a man," Harbaugh said. "Coach (Jay) Fry pushed and supported us. There are great teachers and many friends that I cherish to this day. Miami is the people who have made the difference in so many lives."
While Harbaugh was at Miami, incidentally, the team's defensive coordinator was current Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Harbaugh then began his coaching career at Western Michigan under his father, Jack.
"Whole-hearted thanks to the current administration and board for such a wonderful gesture," Harbaugh added. "I will be forever grateful to Miami.”