Roy Kidd had his share of wins against Jack Harbaugh.
The retired Eastern Kentucky University football coach notched seven victories in 14 tries against Harbaugh, the former longtime coach of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. On the field and the recruiting trial, Kidd and Harbaugh were competitors. Off the field they were friends.
“I respected him as a coach,” Kidd said Friday. “His teams were ready to play, fundamentally sound, and he was a good football coach, no doubt about that. You had better been ready to play them, if not, you were in trouble. He’s a very personable guy, sound and just a good football coach.”
Kidd rooted for Harbaugh when Western won the FCS title in 2002. At that time, Western was a football-only member of the Ohio Valley Conference, and Kidd was in Harbaugh’s corner.
“I was pulling for him,” Kidd recalled. “If we couldn’t be in the picture, I certainly wanted somebody in our league to do good (in the playoffs).”
After winning the national title, Harbaugh was in attendance at a reception held in Kidd’s honor after the Hall of Fame coach retired following a coaching career than spanned 39 seasons. In his three-plus decades as coach at Eastern, Kidd compiled a 314-124-8 record with the Colonels and won two national titles and a pair of runner-up finishes in a four-year span.
“They introduced him and he got a standing ovation, and I remember telling them, ‘don’t you remember where he’s from,’” Kidd said with a laugh. “I didn’t have any idea that he would be there. I always had respect for him and Western, too. I had respect for Jimmy Feix when he was there, and with Jack, it was the same way with him. Jack came in there and picked up where Jimmy left off.”
Unlike his relationship with Jack Harbaugh, Kidd didn’t have close ties to Jim or John Harbaugh.
“I didn’t know his sons that well, really,” he said. “When I was still doing it, I don’t know if they were coaching. I didn’t really know much about John and Jim Harbaugh but watching their teams play and on television, the two brothers are different, you can tell that. John is a little older and a little more mature, I think than Jim, and he has certainly done a great job with the 49ers. In fact when the season started, I thought the 49ers would be the team to beat. I doesn’t surprise me that they’re in the Super Bowl.”
Kidd said from his observations that John “seems to be a little quieter” and Jim “seems to be a little more emotional, like Jack was.”
“Jack was an emotional coach,” Kidd said. “Jim reminds me more of Jack than John does.”
Just as he did in 2002, Kidd will be rooting for a Harbaugh-coached team, mainly Baltimore. Kidd favors the Ravens over San Francisco, simply because John Harbaugh’s team defeated Denver 38-35 in double overtime in the second round of the playoffs, creating the Ravens’ path to the Super Bowl. Kidd’s son Keith is the director of pro scouting for Denver, and if the Broncos couldn’t knock off the Ravens, Kidd wants Baltimore to win it all.
“It broke my heart when (Denver) got beat right at the end of the game,” Kidd said. “I couldn’t believe it happened. They had that sucker won and let it slip away. I’m for the Ravens, because they beat the Broncos. I can’t pull for Jim if he helped (his dad) recruit (at Western) when they were pretty good.”