In the Fabulous Feud of Pete Carroll v. Jim Harbaugh, you can't take v. You've got to be on one side of it or the other. And you have to do it now, because Carroll's 14-3 Seattle Seahawks host Harbaugh's 14-4 San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday. Loser shaves head and leaves town.
Who's the better man? Who's the better coach? Who should you back?
Let's play The Feud!
Jim Harbaugh dresses like your retired Uncle Saul. His closet seems to have only one hanger. He wears flood-ready khaki pants with pleats that went out with Boyz II Men, a drab black sweatshirt (tucked in, no less) and -- my Lord -- a clip-on pen that hangs from a string around his neck. "I reduce a lot of drag by not having to choose what you're going to wear every day," Harbaugh explains.
On the other hand, Carroll, who is 12 years older, appears 12 years younger, possibly because he dresses in the style vicinity of this century.
Carroll 1, Harbaugh 0
Both men are so fabulously talented at coaching football that it makes the mind spin. Carroll won two national titles, and played for a third, at USC before he went to Seattle, where he's built a budding dynasty with a team that was the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs this season.
Harbaugh, though, may be even better. He turned Stanford -- Stanford! -- into a national power in only four seasons, pulled off the biggest point-spread upset in college football history when he beat Carroll's USC team as a 41-point underdog in 2007 (Feud Milepost No. 1) and has now made the NFC title game in each of his first three years, an unheard-of feat. Oh, and he's 6-3 overall against Carroll.
Harbaugh 1, Carroll 1.
Not even close. Carroll's hair was copied off an "Endless Summer" poster, only silver, which might be even cooler. It's a cloud of cool. It's as though it comes with its own wind machine. I could take his hair and live happily on a deserted island.
Harbaugh's looks like he sends it to a barber college on Tuesday and gets it back Thursday.
Carroll 2, Harbaugh 1.
Also not close. Carroll may be the best off-the-record coach in the NFL. But on the record, he is drier than 5-year-old rice cakes. He says nothing after practices and even less after games.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh is witty, bizarre and on the record. Who can forget . . .
• On criticism: "It's just a lot of gobble gobble turkey."
• On his philosophy: "Attack this with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind."
• On second-guessing his play calling in the Super Bowl: "The would've, could've, should've is undefeated. That's never failed."
• And the delicious olive jar analogy regarding turnovers: "Our defense is ... kind of like the olive jar ... You open up a brand new can of olives and turn it over and no olives come out. They're packed in there so darn tight, but if you just get one to come out, just pluck one out of there and then they want to come out, they're just flying out of the jar." It never ends with Harbaugh. It never starts with Carroll.
Harbaugh 2, Carroll 2.
Harbaugh preaches the gospel of Bo Schembechler: Winning is nothing without class. And yet it was Harbaugh who went for two with a huge lead over USC in 2009, the origin of Carroll's fiery "What's your deal?" postgame handshake query (Fuel Milepost No. 2).