Who’s Got it Better Than Us…in Northeast Ohio?!

Jack Harbaugh’s philosophy of “Who’s got it better than us?!” is about being grateful for what you have. Perhaps we in Northeast Ohio can utter his words when we step outside to sub-freezing temperatures as we return home from watching the Cleveland Browns lose in the first round of the football playoffs.
Image: Cortland, Ohio 10-day weather forecast.  Who's got it better than us?!
Sunny and single-to-teens Fahrenheit temperatures in winter are fine, honestly.

Given the weather this week in Northeast Ohio will probably only reach a high of sub-freezing temperatures, perhaps we should look to the sunny side of the street.

Me: Who’s got it better than us…in Northeast Ohio?!

You (collectively): Nobody!

Backstory

I enjoyed watching the college football playoffs this year. I’m also glad the college football playoffs will include twelve teams for the 2024 season, instead of only four teams. As such, the playoffs will more closely resemble the 14-team NFL playoffs.

Anyway, #6 Georgia (13-1) crushed the self-described National Championship contender, #5 Florida State (13-1), by the tune of 63-3. So, in hindsight, it wasn’t Florida State that got snubbed from the playoffs, but rather it was the powerful Georgia Bulldogs that got snubbed from the playoffs.

As for the undefeated and #1 Michigan Wolverines (15-0), they easily beat #2 Washington Huskies (14-1) with a score of 34-13 in the college football playoffs (CFP) National Championship game. Moreover, the team demonstrated why it was the best ranked defense in the nation allowing only 9.5 points per game; and, the best defenses often win championships, as the saying goes.

2023 College football's best defenses by points allowed (Top 9).
Notre Dame and the Great State of Ohio are representing!

What I didn’t know is that coach Jim Harbaugh hired his dad, Jack Harbaugh, as his assistant head football coach of the Wolverines in 2023. Moreover, the Harbaughs are all from Ohio!

Jim Harbaugh’s dad

Evidently, Jack Harbaugh, Jim’s dad, was born of Irish and German descent in the small town of Crestline, Ohio, which is about 90 miles from both Toledo and Cleveland. Jack was a star high school athlete in baseball, basketball, and football; played quarterback at Bowling Green University, which is 20 miles south of Toledo; and, played running back for the Buffalo Bills.

After his football playing days, he became a coach, beginning as a high school assistant football coach at Perrysburg High School, which is ten miles southwest of Toledo – which, in turn, is only 60 miles south of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Moreover, Jim’s older brother, John, who is the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, played defensive back for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, which is in the southwestern part of Ohio less than five miles from the Indiana border and about 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Interestingly, both Miami University and the University of Michigan are considered “Public Ivies” given their rigorous academic standards.

The Philosophy Saying

I first learned of the saying during the National Championship Game when the announcers told the story about Jim’s dad’s saying it when the boys (Jim and John) had to shovel snow in the driveway or when the family didn’t have certain material goods, like a car, that their friends and neighbors had.

Here’s Jim explaining the meaning of his dad’s words:

“When I was growing up, there was a local car dealer in Ann Arbor that had a program where the coaches at Michigan got to drive the extra dealer cars,” Harbaugh wrote. “We didn’t have much money, and we didn’t have a car of our own, so my parents shared the dealer car. Sometimes my dad, brother and I would walk outside and the car would be in the driveway. Other times, if my mom was out, it wasn’t.

“‘Hey Dad, where’s the car?’

“’No car today, guys. We’re walking … Grab a basketball: 100 with the right, 100 with the left. Let’s go!’

“So we’d dribble down the sidewalk, dad leading the way, yelling: ‘Who’s got it better than us?!’

“‘Me and my brother trailing behind, chanting: ‘No-body!'”

Jim Harbaugh, head coach, University of Michigan

And, here’s his dad, the assistant head football coach of the Michigan Wolverines, getting the fans even more excited after winning the college football National Championship game by asking, “Who’s got it better than us?”

The crowd cheerfully responds, “Nobody!” [Click image or here to view Twitter video.]

Video/image: Jack Harbaugh, Michigan's assistant head coach, asks the fans, "Who's got it better than us?!" after the Wolverines won the National Championship game against the Washington Huskies.
Coach Jack Harbaugh gets the crowd even more excited.

Moral of the Story

Basically, the moral or lesson of Jack Harbaugh’s philosophy saying is to be grateful for what you have.

I also interpret Jack’s philosophy through the lens of “no pain, no gain” and, of course, the writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche (1844-1900) wrote that people should embrace difficulties and hardships as they are necessary to become a stronger person and attain personal fulfillment.

If you want to hear a brief overview of Nietzsche’s philosophy on hardship, then check out the Guide to Happiness shared on YouTube by a modern day, dry-witted British philosopher, Alain de Botton, who “explores Friedrich Nietzsche’s dictum that any worthwhile achievements in life come from the experience of overcoming hardship.”

It’s worth a listen.

Closing Words

So, in light of Jack Harbaugh’s and Nietzshe’s philosophies, and considering the Cleveland Browns (11-6) just lost, 14 to 45, to the Houston Texans (10-7) in the wildcard playoffs, and the weather in Northeast Ohio just turned to winter in a big manner, let me close by asking you—the Cleveland Browns fans diaspora and fellow Northeast Ohioans—this:

Who’s got it better than us?!

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