Apparently Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and new San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh have kissed and made up.
The two were fierce rivals in college, with Carroll leading national power USC and Harbaugh reestablishing Stanford as a Pac-10 power, including the much-talked about incident at the end of Stanford's 55-21 win over the Trojans in 2009.
And with Harbaugh taking over the San Francisco job, it’s only natural to think that rivalry would carry over to the pro game.
But both worked hard to diffuse the idea of any friction between the two, mentioning the fact that they talked at an NFL owners meeting earlier this year in New Orleans, where Harbaugh asked Carroll about making the transition from college to the NFL.
“We don’t know each other very well,” said Carroll, when asked to describe his relationship with Harbaugh. “We’ve never been in the same settings at all. We just played each other a couple times. I got a chance to visit with him at the league meetings and all that. But we don’t have common backgrounds at all.”
Said Harbaugh, when asked to describe their relationship: “I have great respect for Coach and what he’s trying to accomplish there in Seattle, and everything he’s done in the profession and what he’s meant for the game and for football. So that’s how I would describe it. I like him. I like being around him.
“We don’t socialize. I wouldn’t call us friends or anything like that. But I’ve got to tell you really the only friend I have in the NFL is my brother (Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh) who’s on an opposing team. We’re trying to beat those guys.”
Although the relationship between the two is cordial, Carroll's still living up to his motto “Always Compete”, fishing for information on Harbaugh from two former Stanford players on Seattle’s roster in cornerback Richard Sherman and receiver Doug Baldwin.
“We talk to them,” Carroll said with a wry smile. “We’re competing at it. So we’re visiting with them for sure.”
Sherman said he sees a lot of similarities between his former and current coach.
“Personality-wise they’re both real fiery guys,” he said. “They both seem like they’re real competitive. And both want to win by any means necessary, and that’s what you I from them.”
Baldwin said that both coaches are detail oriented, and that playing for Harbaugh in college helped for a smoother transition to Seattle.
“His philosophy was definitely similar to what we have here,” Baldwin said. “I mean always competing, always going 100 miles per hour every time – even if you get something wrong. That was just his philosophy. I would say his approach in practice and in meetings, and the way he prepares us for games is similar to what I’ve experienced so far in the NFL.”
In terms of scheme, Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said the Seahawks are watching a mixture of San Francisco preseason game and Stanford games to get a better read on what the Niners and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will do on Sunday, but are leaning more toward exhibition play as a predictor for what they might face.
“You would think they would probably do most of what they did in the preseason, with maybe a few wrinkles here and there,” Jackson said. “I means it’s different personnel, different league and different players. So I’m guessing he’s going to do something different, he would probably try and practice it a little bit in a real game situation, but you never know. So we’re just going to continue to watch both and see what they give us.”