The NFC West just got a lot more interesting. The San Francisco 49ers announcement of Jim Harbaugh as head coach on Friday sets the stage for Round 2 of the Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh rivalry.
These two former Pac-10 rivals have had well documented clashes in the past. In 2007, the Cardinal pulled off one the greatest upsets in college football history (Stanford was a 41 point underdog) by defeating Carroll’s seemingly indestructible Trojans 24-23 in Los Angeles. The following offseason, Harbaugh told CBS Sportline.com that the 2007 season was going to be Carroll’s final season at USC. That didn’t sit too well with Carroll, who at the time was rumored to be in the running for the Miami Dolphins job. Carroll responded by telling the L.A. Times “If he’s going to make statements like that, he ought to get his information right. And if he has any questions about it he should call me.”. Yep, it was officially on!
The following season in 2008, the Trojans got their revenge by defeating the Cardinal 45-23. The UCS rushed for 243 yards in the second half of that game and it was obvious that Carroll was trying to send a message to the Stanford head coach. Believe me, Harbaugh got the message loud and clear.
In the 2009, what would ultimately be their last Pac-10 matchup, Jim Harbaugh got the last laugh. In what was later dubbed the “what’s your deal” game, Harbaugh stuck it to Carroll in a major way. The Cardinal dismantled the Trojans by a score of 55-21. The 55 points were the most ever allowed by a USC team.
To add injury to insult, Harbaugh gave Carroll one last parting shot. With the game seemingly out of hand at 48-21, Harbaugh would attempt a two-point conversion. Carroll didn’t appear to be all too thrilled during the post game hand shake, uttering the infamous words “what’s your deal”. Harbaugh fired back at Carroll saying the exact same thing.
During Friday’s press conference, one reporter asked Harbaugh how excited he was to have a chance to beat Pete Carroll two times a year. Harbaugh smirked and gave a politically correct answer.
Did I mention the NFC West just got a lot more interesting?