The Mid-American Conference has plenty of ties to Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
Much attention has been made about the relationship between the two head coaches in this year's Super Bowl, and the journey for one of them began at Western Michigan University.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, like every coach, had to make his start in the profession as a graduate assistant. It just so happens that he was able to do so under the tutelage of his father, Jack Harbaugh, at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.
John, who was also played collegiately in the Mid-American Conference from 1980-83 as a defensive back at Miami (Ohio), cut his teeth in the coaching profession while with the Broncos from 1984-87, spending three seasons under his father Jack and his last under Al Molde in 1987.
In addition to the Harbaugh family, the Ravens also feature former MAC running back Bernard Pierce, a rookie third round (84th overall) selection by Baltimore last season. Pierce was MAC Freshman of the Year in 2009 with Temple and was an All-MAC First Team selection in each of his three seasons in the MAC from 2009-11 and rushed for 3,570 yards and 53 touchdowns.
The San Francisco 49ers also feature two former MAC standouts with Central Michigan offensive tackle Joe Staley and former member Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss.
Staley was a first-round selection, 28th overall, by San Francisco in 2007 and has started at left tackle for the 49ers for the last six consecutive seasons. Staley was selected to the 2012 NFC Pro Bowl and was unable to participate due to his preparations for this Sunday's Super Bowl. Moss was originally a first-round selection, 21st overall, by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 and went on to a storied NFL career with Minnesota, Oakland, New England, Tennessee and San Francisco. Moss has 982 career receptions, 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns during his 14 year NFL career.
The Harbaugh connection is not the only one Western Michigan football has to this year's Super Bowl. Kenico Hines, who served as the equipment manager for the Broncos from 2004-11 joined the Baltimore Ravens as the assistant equipment manager prior to the 2012 campaign. One of his former student employees at Western Michigan, Scott Rotier, is the equipment manager for the San Francisco 49ers.
The Ravens' assistant head coach and special teams coach Jerry Rosburg was an assistant with the Broncos from 1987-91 under Al Molde, while the 49ers' wide receivers coach John Morton played at Western Michigan from 1991-92, signing a contract as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders in 1993.