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).
Carroll's ethics, though, couldn't stand up to a robin's burp. There was so much cheating during his regime at USC that a national title (2005) and Reggie Bush's Heisman were vacated. And Slippery Pete managed to steal out of town for Seattle just before the NCAA gendarmes came.
At Seattle, meanwhile, his players have led the league in performance-enhancing drug suspensions, not to mention high-enhancing ones.
All of those failed drug tests caused Harbaugh to fire a shot that parted Carroll's hair: "We want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules. If you don't, if you cheat to win, then you've already lost, according to Bo Schembechler." (Feud Milepost No. 3)
Classless to point it out, but true.
Harbaugh 3, Carroll 2.
Tan, suave and fit, Carroll thinks young, talks young and acts young, without a drip of creepy.
Harbaugh, on the other hand, is about as cool as the early bird special. And yet his way is so infectious and goofy and fun, you can't help but love him. The blue work shirts he gets his staff to wear. The family Saturday practices. The new quote he makes players provide him every day.
One day, the goal posts were in the wrong place at practice and he ran out and moved them himself. We all had that nutty teacher in high school with the taped-together eyeglasses who was just so irresistibly in love with what he was teaching that you went to class every day just to see what would happen next.
Still, that sort of coach is like whippits -- it's fun for a while, but it'll burn you out. Playing for Carroll is like working for Twitter -- it's a very cool office, but it's also a very cool future.
Carroll 3, Harbaugh 3.
The only real grating habit of Carroll's is the way he chomps his gum like your 16-year-old server at Sonic.
Harbaugh annoys from kickoff to double zeroes. He is the Bill Laimbeer of the NFL, crying and stomping and throwing Harbaugh Hissies on the sideline (when you can keep him there). When a call goes against him, he looks like a man who just got Tasered in his boxers.
Harbaugh just can't back the volume off 10. All of that "an enthusiasm unknown to mankind" can really annoy people. Witness: His 2012 postgame hyper-backslap of then- Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz that had Schwartz coming up with his fists.
When asked if he can tone his act down in the name of sportsmanship, Harbaugh is his usual honest self: "We fight to win. If you're asking me my personal etiquette needs to be changed? More catatonic on the sideline? I don't anticipate that happening."
Carroll 4, Harbaugh 3.
I was talking to Harbaugh once and in the middle of a sentence, he just walked away. Just left. Carroll at least pretends to be interested.
Carroll has hobbies, like boogie boarding, Native American philosophy and Russian history. He is so cool, he's welcomed throughout South Central. At midnight.
Harbaugh has football, football and more football. "I don't take vacations," he says. "I don't get sick. I don't observe major holidays. I'm a jackhammer."