Posted January 14, 2014

Years ago, Jim Harbaugh tried to recruit Pete Carroll’s son to University of San Diego

NFC West, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks
Jim Harbaugh, back in his San Diego Toreros days.

Jim Harbaugh, back in his San Diego Toreros days. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh have known each other for a long time — by Carroll’s estimation, the two probably first met when Carroll was the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator and Harbaugh was the Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback in the early 1990s.

The professional and personal competitions between the two men didn’t really start until Harbaugh took the Stanford head coach position before the 2007 season and started to make life more difficult for Carroll’s USC Trojans. That begat the “What’s your deal?” game, and a compelling series of battles between the teams coached by both men that has expanded into the NFL’s best current rivalry.

But Harbaugh really came into Carroll’s orbit a bit before Stanford. When he was the head coach for the San Diego Toreros from 2004 through ’06, Harbaugh sought to recruit a quarterback from Palos Verdes Peninsula High in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., by the name of Nate Carroll. Yes, that’s Pete Carroll’s youngest of two sons, currently an offensive assistant for his dad’s team.

“He did recruit my son to go to the University of San Diego,” Carroll recalled Monday “I wasn’t there for the home visit though, Glena [Carroll's wife] took that one.”

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Not that there was any chance of Harbaugh stealing the younger Carroll from the older Carroll.

“I didn’t get that far,” he said, when asked what he told his son about the possibility of going to USD. “He was going to USC.”

Which Nate Carroll did, graduating with a degree in philosophy.

The Carroll-Harbaugh schism will gain even more steam when the Seahawks and 49ers meet at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field this Sunday to determine which team will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. It’s compelling now because both coaches see football in very much the same way — they have each created tough, smart, nasty (in a good way) teams who lead with defense and the running game, but each team can create explosive shot plays in the passing game at the drop of the hat.

“I think there’s a fundamental approach to the game of football that we share,” Carroll said. “It’s about playing tough and playing physical and playing defense and relying on a really obvious running game emphasis. It’s historically the best way, and it continues to show itself again. I think that we share that kind of love for the game in that manner. They’ve got their own ways of doing their own stuff and their own language and all that, but I just think that formula part comes together to play winning championship football.”

In the end, the rivalry — even when it hits grudge proportions — is based on the respect afforded when two opponents have the ability to beat the daylights out of each other.

“I’m not surprised that Jim has done such a good job coaching,” Carroll concluded. “He’s shown in every opportunity that he’s had that he’s got great core principles. His dad was a great football coach as well, I used to coach against Jack Harbaugh back in the day in the Big Ten, and knowing him for a long time, he [Jim] was raised as a coach’s kid. He demonstrated the savvy as a competitor as a player, and it translated in his coaching quite obviously. It’s obvious with [Baltimore Ravens coach] John Harbaugh, too. Both of those guys are great football coaches.”

But Carroll was able to one-up Harbaugh with one specific recruit. To be fair, he had home-field advantage.

36 comments
Kingneputne
Kingneputne

One wonders how much of Harbaugh's earnings go to pay the alimony to his former wife, and child support for the 3 children he abandoned to marry a much younger woman in 2005.


Or, for that matter, the legal fees to cover his criminal DUI conviction that same year.


Class, all the way.

x72
x72

Should have offered him free adderall

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

I'm sure that was all before Harbaugh learned that Pete's "deal" is cheating. His USC wins were vacated because his program was rotten from top to bottom. His team in Seattle is built on cheating as well.

NebojsaTodorovic
NebojsaTodorovic

Seahawks will win this one, too.  Russell is a true pro QB, CK is playing off raw athleticism.  

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

Nate should've went to USD....at least he might've gotten some game time, lol.

davidhd
davidhd

So many trolls out there, but I don't think Carroll and Harbaugh really hate each other as much as people are saying. They both are great coaches at this point, and Carroll is equally talented, or more talented, as a personnel guy (he has final say on personnel moves and works in tandem with John Schneider on that side of things). 


I respect the 49ers great history and recent accomplishments, and I respect them as the second best team in the league right now, but Seattle is the better team right now. They will prove it this Sunday.

6marK6
6marK6

Pete Carroll did a good job at New England, I wish people knew this before opening their mouths. 

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife

Still bitter over how terrible a coach Carroll was with New England although his utter suckness led to the Patriots getting Bill Belichick.

BigBubba
BigBubba

great article  Thanks.


Interesting to see Carroll's definition of a good offense and team.  Sort of flies in the face of the craze over "spread as the only way to win".  Football is football--teams gotta tackle, block, run, catch.  You don't need to do the Chip Kelly thing only.

WWoo2
WWoo2

It actually Palos Verdes Peninsula High in Rolling Hills Estates, CA but who's checking...

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

Harbaugh does not care for Carroll.

Gs1
Gs1

I like Carroll. He was a good coordinator for the 49ers. Always seemed like a good guy. Unfortunately the 'won nothing' Seahawks fans and their mouth piece Richard Sherman ruin it for everybody. The classless fans and they're players makes it hard to say anything good about that town or that team.

Oh by the way, the reason Seattle fans hate San Francisco is that they have an inferiority complex. No matter how hard they try to make that town "look" like San Francisco , there's only one City by the Bay!!

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@DennyCrane 

True dat. 

Which is really a shame about USC, or any NCAA program. Virtually all of those kids are clean, and just want to play. Really sad.

matthewfreitas27
matthewfreitas27

Not according to Bill Simmons... I thought he was the consummate Patriots authority?!

6marK6
6marK6

@ILoveMyWife You should maybe go take a look at Carroll's record at New England. He coached there three years, had winning records in two of those three years, including a division title and one .500 season. You had no idea, did you?

bulletrico
bulletrico

@Gs1 why does it always have to be a pissing match??? We both have good teams so lets enjoy the games without all the name calling. Neither fan base is classless so just stop it!!!

kenc29
kenc29

@Gs1 Kinda funny that Sherman played for Harbaugh, now isn't it?

HOUSE
HOUSE

Only person sounding classless is you big guy! Did you see the Carolina game when SF was poppin off after every play? How many coaches have you seen get 15 yard penalties? I hope Boldin gets his blocked knocked off "legally" by Earl Thomas. BTw.... ALL 49er fans brag about is the PAST!

pirate
pirate

@bulletrico@Gs1 And both cities are really nice cities that, perhaps coincidentally, are very difficult to drive in. No place is worse to drive than SF, but Seattle tries.

johnvas49
johnvas49

@HOUSE Someone should tell Earl Thomas to stop dancing around after unloading on his own teammates...


It's happened at least twice in the games I've seen Seattle play.  A lineman or linebacker is trying to tackle the running back, Earl lines up the running back, misses and destroys his own teammate, then gets up and starts dancing around like an idiot.  Meanwhile, his teammate is wobbling back to the huddle.

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@HOUSE"ALL 49er fans brag about is the PAST!"

Yeah, like last year's super bowl appearance...

pmccnn
pmccnn

@DennyCrane @6marK6 @ILoveMyWife He was fired because Kraft knew Belichick was going to refuse the Jets Head Coach position. Also, Carroll followed the Tuna in New England, pretty tough assignment. Carroll did a pretty good job with the Patriots.

Rick57
Rick57

@CarlLegg You're really going to brag about last year's Super Bowl appearance? You know the 40-whiners lost right?