Thoughts on Rick Reilly’s Pick Between 49ers’ Harbaugh and Seahawks’ Carroll

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Reilly recently published an article on ESPN.com comparing San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll across 10 categories and chooses which coach he prefers. One of these coaches will lead his team to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.  Here is a look at his categories, choices, and final choice, along with my thoughts, which I will attempt to make as objective as possible.

1) “Clothes”

Reilly chooses Carroll’s 21st century style over Harbaugh’s “retired Uncle Saul” khaki and sweatshirt attire. As much as I loved 49ers.com’s “Jim Harbaugh Collection” April fools prank, I must say, Reilly is completely justified here and, though my attire may often mirror Harbaugh’s more, objectively, Carroll wins.

2) “Ability”

Harbaugh wins here. 6-3 vs Carroll and his success at every level — especially his remarkable 4 year turnaround at Stanford shows. I agree.

3) “Hair”

Again, Carroll wins Reilly’s vote in what I would consider a category that is not important. Again, I would have to agree with him, even though, personally, I am rocking a hair style somewhere in between the two, but with a lot less grey.

4) “Quotability”

This one is not even fair. Harbaugh wins by a landslide! I appreciate Reilly reminding us of some of Harbaugh’s gems:

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.

It is 2-2 for those of you keeping score, Reilly and I have so far agreed.

5) “Ethics”

Harbaugh is a Bo Schembechler, Carroll cheated at USC and skipped town right before the punishments came. Now he runs a PED-ridden team. Harbaugh wins both of our votes again.

6) “Coolness”

This is the first time Reilly and I differ. Carroll has the USC So-Cal mantra in the hip Pacific Northwest. Reilly compares Harbaugh to the “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.” I find that to be sooo much cooler than pumping hip-hop during practices. I also find Harbaugh infectious and disagree with Reilly’s assertion that it would burn one out. Also, I feel that Carroll is a little to mainstream for cool now, kind of like being too hipster for hipsters.

Reilly: 3-3; Doug: Harbaugh is up 4-2

7) “Irritability”

As much as I find Harbaugh fun to watch during games and not annoying at all, I see how non-49er fans could find him incredibly annoying, so I will relent and let Carroll win this, as Reilly has chosen.

Reilly: 4-3 Carroll; Doug: 4-3 Harbaugh

8) “Likability”

Maybe it shows something about my fascination with World War II history, but I prefer Harbaugh’s love affair with Winston Churchill to Carroll’s reported hobbies:  ”boogie boarding, Native American philosophy and Russian history.” Reilly neglects to mention Harbaugh’s annual service trips to Peru, philosophy and history studies, and support of his brother-in-law, Indiana University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tom Crean.

Reilly: 5-3 Carroll; Doug: 5-3 Harbaugh

9) “Guts”

Harbaugh wins over Reilly by virtue of his benching Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick. He won me over the day he gave an unsigned Alex Smith the 49ers’ new playbook during the temporary injunction of the lockout during his first offseason with the club.

Reilly: 5-4 Carroll; Doug: 6-3 Harbaugh

10) “Passion, Plan, and Progress”

The teams may be mirror images of each other, which leads to Carroll calling this a tie, but I think what Harbaugh has accomplished has gone further than what Carroll has — and in a much shorter time, no less. The passion Harbaugh exudes is unmatched as well.

Final Score:

Reilly: Carroll wins 5-4-1, Doug: Harbaugh wins 7-3

I would be more than interested to read your comments. Please let me know how spot-on I was with this — or not. If you are offended by my choice, tough luck. If you are offended by Reilly’s, well, remember, Kaepernick is not a big fan of him either (remember that article Reilly wrote insisting Kap should meet his biological mother?) Either way, I hope you found this exercise fun and enjoyable!

Topics: 49ers, 49ers 2013, 49ers 2014, Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks

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  • Pridenpoise

    Your bias is evident.

    • Douglas Totten

      I can only do my best. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • chamboknows

    here’s my comment,
    Reilly stinks-he really is terrible and he used to be good but now for the sake of his reputation and legacy it’s a good thing he’s rotting at ESPN where nobody reads him.

  • hawkman54

    Hairball is the epitome of an ASSHAT and why the niners are called the WHINERS- I don’t recall ever seeing a coach cry more on the sidelines then this guy. As far as his record ( especially in the pros, Carroll wipes him in college) he came into a team 90 % built ready to win. Carroll had to do a complete overhaul ! WHAT A DOUCHE, one sided look !
    GO HAWKS !!!!!

  • Winston Herzog

    Anyone who gives Harbaugh the edge in “Likability” is immediately disqualified due to ridiculous bias.
    When Harbaugh’s Stanford team continued to pour it on Carroll’s USC team while leading by 34 points, we saw how likable he was. When he brushed off Jim Schwartz’s handshake attempt, we saw how likable he was.

    Harbaugh’s brother is likable. Jim is a fine coach who is basically an arsehole. And not a likable one.