Jim Harbaugh has a new job, and once again, he is chasing Pete Carroll. The two established a bitter rivalry in the Pac-10, coaching Stanford and USC respectively, and now they will tangle as the coaches of the 49ers and Seahawks.
Though, there will be those who feel that going from the Pac-10 to the NFC West is a step down.
We can all agree, however, that this rivalry is just what the NFC West needs. The NFC West has become a punchline and can use a little bit of panache. The NFC West needs more coaches going for the throat in blowout wins, and less sub-.500 division winners, football in domes and John Skelton.
The NFC West needs an attitude era, with a Harbaugh vs. Carroll rivalry to match some of the best in sports — Raiders vs. Chiefs, Lakers vs. Celtics, the Rock vs. Stone Cold.
Unfortunately, Harbaugh was unwilling to bite during his first day on the job.
Harbaugh was asked about Carroll during his introductory press conference, and the new coach danced around the question like Terrell Owens shaking a pair of pom-poms. You know, the last time the 49ers mattered. Instead, Harbaugh just said that he was “excited about tonight.”
Did he just quote the Black Eyed Peas?
Was this the same Harbaugh who went for a two-point conversion in an attempt to hang 50 points on USC late in a blowout win in 2009? The conversion was no good, but Stanford got another touchdown to beat the Trojans 55-21. Carroll was so beleaguered by the move, he asked Harbaugh, “What’s the deal?” as the two shook hands at midfield, according to Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle.
To which Harbaugh responded, “What’s your deal?”
This move closed the door on the duo’s rivalry. At least on the college level. Harbaugh’s approach might not have hastened Carroll’s defection to the pros, but it left an indelible mark on Carroll’s college legacy. Carroll even said that he won’t forget the incident.
So we have to ask … Harbaugh, what’s your deal?
Where was the Harbaugh who wasted little time igniting Carroll when he first took the Stanford job in December 2006? The following spring, Harbaugh said Carroll was only going to last one more season at USC (well, he was close) and then knocked the No. 2 Trojans out of the BCS title race with one of the biggest upsets in college football history in October.
Where was that guy, Harbaugh? Instead, all we got was that you were excited tonight, and you will get to work on beating the NFC West tomorrow. Tomorrow? This is the internet age, we want action now. We want predictions of hanging 50 points on the Seahawks in September.
But that’s okay. Like they say in football, you don’t want to show all of your plays during the first drive of the game. Hopefully this rivalry will be given some time to grow.
Let it be known, however, there are some high expectations for this.
Just so you know the deal.