Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
How should these four coaches be judged and sorted? The one definitely headed to Canton? It’s Bill Belichick. The one with the most recent ring? It’s Tom Coughlin, whose team beat New England in Super Bowl XLII. The hungriest? It’s John Harbaugh, who has gotten his team to the playoffs four seasons in a row. The one who has done the best job this season? It’s Jim Harbaugh, who turned around a franchise that was 6-10 last season and hadn’t made the playoffs since 2002.
Obviously, all four know how to push the right buttons to motivate their teams, and each understands how to build a team for success in January (and maybe February), so ranking them is a little like grabbing names out of a hat. Each fits his particular franchise. So this ranking is based on who has had the most impressive victories in this season’s playoffs: Coughlin, Jim Harbaugh, Belichick, John Harbaugh.
Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune
It's hard to pick against Bill Belichick in any forum, let alone this one, where his three Super Bowl rings puts him at the top of the list. Tom Coughlin comes next because he also has a championship, defeating Belichick and the Patriots just four years ago.
Jim Harbaugh should be a slam dunk for Coach of the Year awards this season for the quick work he’s done in turning around a rudder-less 49ers organization. But you have to flip a coin between him and his brother John in Baltimore. The Ravens have been a force annually in the AFC North under John Harbaugh. Imagine if the family has a reunion in Super Bowl XLVI -- it will be a terrific storyline.
Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun Sentinel
1. Bill Belichick. He has an elite quarterback, he’s held a weak defense together with gum and baling wire and he's been in this position enough that he merits trust.
2. Jim Harbaugh. He’s transformed Alex Smith into a a real quarterback. He put his best offensive players -– Vernon Davis and Frank Gore -– in position to deliver in Saturday’s playoff. And when New Orleans took the lead –- twice –- in the final few minutes, his team didn’t buckle.
3. Tom Coughlin. He’s old-school tough with the most balanced formula for winning out there. Mainly, he throws the ball with Eli Manning and defends the throw with the rush of a great defensive line.
4. John Harbaugh. He’s ridden the defense this far, as usual. But the offense hasn’t progressed.
Photo: Bill Belichick. Credit: Elise Amendola / Associated Press