Who’s Got Heart? A Comparison of Coaches

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The Desert Bowl approaches!!! The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are vying to win themselves a cup on the biggest night in football,  and the annual question of which colour face paint to buy is looming in the distance.

I’ll tell you right now, you’re safe either way with Navy but over the next two weeks, I’ll explain as concisely as possible,  all of the reasons why one team deserves your support and cheek space. Now before I begin, I must point out my incredible bias in this particular Superbowl. I really love the Seahawks! They’re very lovable and I’m going to tell you why, but I also solemnly vow to dig up all the positivity I can muster for the Patriots. Let’s start with the Coaches.

Coaching Style – One Hundo Pete

There are three stereotypes of football coaches. The first is a large screaming man, reliving his football glory days, chewing tobacco, rubbing his championship ring and calling absolutely everyone ‘son’. The other is the kind they make movies about, the unorthodox guy that comes in and replaces guy #1. Think Matthew McConaughey in We are Marshall and the beloved Kyle Chandler as Coach Tayor in Friday Night Lights – This is the Pete Carroll type.

Then let your mind wander to type #3. The aging bachelor who will do anything to win because winning and the pile of money that comes along with it is all that they have and all that they want. Think Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday but with a winning streak. Here is Bill Belichick.

Now if football movies aren’t your thing (you crazy kid) then let me explain further. You couldn’t ask for two more different coaches. Pete Carroll doesn’t coach in a typical sort of way. One of his players, the ever amusing Michael Bennett, recently described him as being “Like google man – he’s just laid back”.

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He throws big BBQ’s during training camp, takes his teams bowling and plans elaborate practical jokes often involving celebrities. He brings in rugby players to help with tackling and a goalkeeper from the US National Soccer team to help with kicking. His weekday practices are themed – Tell the Truth Mondays, Competition Tuesdays and Turnover Thursdays. In 2005 he was interviewed by Mens Vogue who described his personality as “a nine year old boy who’s having a very good christmas.”

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Seattle player Richard Sherman certainly doesn’t mind, saying “I don’t think anybody thought his system could work, It shows you can win with positivity, with having a great mindset. They say you have to be a hard coach to win in this league, but that’s not who he is. We love it.”

In an interview with Jim Trotter, Pete says his coaching style “…basically comes down to taking care of the people in your program and making them the best they can be—not giving up on them and never failing to be there for them.” But I think his coaching style can be summed up better by Jefri Chadiha of ESPN who recently wrote,  “He seems capable of having more fun in one afternoon than most coaches have in an entire season” and “he’s a man who ultimately wants to see the best come out of everybody, mainly because of how much joy he would take in seeing somebody else attain that level of success.”

Now Bill Belichick would never be called Joyful. This is his face post win.

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Although I should note that a few of his players have tried to tell the world that he can actually be quite funny – We’re waiting on proof. He’s certainly very stoney to the rest of us and he’s not throwing any BBQ’s either. He doesn’t like talking to the press and he’s not one for elaborate gestures – though one time he did bury a game ball with his team after a terrible loss. He scoffs at hints of emotion in football, believing that winning comes down to hard work and diligence. He runs a very tight ship. More than one of his players have admitted being nervous around him.

But his approach does work. He is considered one of the greatest coaches of all time. He starts off each week with a quiz where a wrong answer is not taken lightly.  He recruits players that come from notoriously disciplined programs because those are the ones that thrive in his incredibly tough and disciplined program. But that’s not to say he doesn’t occasionally lead with positivity. Kevin Faulk has spent his whole NFL career with Bill Belichick and insists that he gives praise. When asked for an example though, he answers “No one would really understand it.”

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It’s worth noting that there are only three coaches in the NFL who act as Head Coach AND General Manager to their team. Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick are both on this list. This gives them huge amounts of control over all aspects of their team,  and is something that both of them wrote into their contracts as conditions upon being hired.  It seems to be working for them.

So it’s really a matter of preference, they certainly both get the job done but In an annonymous ESPN survey 320 players were asked who was the coach in the league they would want to play for. Who do you think won? Pete Carroll received 72 votes claiming him 1st place in the poll. Bill tied for 5th with 22 votes. So I’ll let the players decide this round for us!

Before The Bowl – Pete

This is Pete Carroll’s third NFL team. He was considered a failure with both of his previous teams for using the same coaching style he uses now. When no NFL team would look at him for a head coaching position, he took a year off and then decided to follow his volleyball playing daughter to USC. He was their 4th pick for head coach of the football team. Lucky for him the other three turned it down, because it was here that he found his stride. He drastically turned the program around, becoming one of the most celebrated coaches in college football. After ten years he was finally offered the kind of coaching position he had been waiting for – the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. He took it, and after two unsuccessful seasons he took his team to the Superbowl last year and won them their first ever rings. He’d like to get them a second.

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Bill Belichick hit his stride with the New England Patriots after their owner fired Pete Carroll. That’s right, Bill Belichick replaced Pete Carroll and went on to be the winningest coach that the franchise has ever seen. That’s got to sting just a bit. This is his 15th year with the Pats, and in that time he has taken the team to 5 Superbowls, winning three of them. Since he became Head Coach, the Patriots have become Football royalty, holding the record for most wins in a decade and dozen other accolades. Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has said repeatedly that the Patriots are the Lannister’s of the NFL and Drew Karyshyn, a Star Wars video game writer has named Bill Belichick as most likely to become the Sith. So there.

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Bill has a better resume and this is his 6th Superbowl appearance but he hasn’t won this title in 5 years. This is only Pete’s second Superbowl appearance, but he coached the reigning champions, and overcame such adversity to get there that I think he can take this round too.

Side Line Style – It’s a Wash

Pete is always smiling, Bill is always frowning. Pete is a silver fox. Bill is balding. Pete has squeaky white shoes that have become a running joke on twitter,  but Bill looks great in a hood. I’ll let you decide this one. Twitter links attached.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/the_sklar_brothers_riff_on_pete_carrolls_white_shoes/18117449?linksrc=story_team_seattle_seahawks_auto_module_head_18117449

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots

Nerve– Bill

Pete Carroll was nicknamed Big Balls Pete at USC,  but honestly Bill Belichick is going to win this category. Before being named Head Coach of the Pats, he was named Head Coach of their biggest rival – the New York Jets. He held that position for exactly 1 day before resigning to a stunned press group and very stunned Jets staff. Then he promptly took the Pats up on their offer. He also seems to have no qualms about cheating. In the 2007 ‘Spygate’ incident he was fined $500 000 (the largest fine ever imposed on a coach) for illegally taping the defensive hand signals of the New York Jets. Just this Sunday the Pats were accused of deflating footballs in the AFC championship.

This isn’t to say that dear Pete hasn’t gotten into his fair share of trouble too, but he doesn’t do it in that same ‘Bull in a china store’ way that Bill does and I think we owe him this one. 

Off Field Personality – King Pete

I would love to say that Bill is an evil old man who dates cheerleaders half his age, but the reality is that he isn’t evil at all. He grew up with football. His dad played for the Lions, and later started coaching with the US Naval Academy Football Team – that’s where he learned how to breakdown game tapes, and no doubt inherited some of his more militant style. In fact, his dad came on as an advisor early on his career. He has three kids, all of whom are athletic, and two of them coach in their own right. His son Steve works alongside his dad as an assistant coach to the Pats. 

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And he’s not dating a cheerleader. He’s in a relationship with an age appropriate, seemingly lovely lady by the name of Linda Holliday who has a great sense of humour and seems to lighten up his stoney persona. In fact, just last year there was a fun little rumour going around that he  named a play after her ; Brady had been heard to shout ‘Cougar, Cougar, Linda’ before a play. Oh – and he’s good friends with Jon Bon Jovi!

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So Bill is not evil but Pete is a bit of a saint. Pete is still married to his college sweetheart Glena, and they have three kids as well, plus two adorable grandkids. Their son Nate works with the Seahawks as a Wide receiver coach. But what puts Pete a notch above Bill is his charitable work. When he worked in California he was strongly impacted by the youth and gang violence he saw in low income neighbourhoods. He started a charity called ‘A better LA’ that aims to reduce youth and gang violence and provide better opportunities for the impoverished to succeed. When he moved to Seattle his work continued and he developed ‘A better Seattle’. He even has the headquarters in the Seahawks building so he can be around as much as possible. He gets his  players to help out and raise awareness at events. He doesn’t just donate, he takes a very active role in what they do, and for that, he wins the off field category. Oh and he’s pretty close with Macklemore and Will Farrell.

If we were just looking at coaches, The Hawks would most likely have earned your support. BUT stay tuned for posts on key players and team overviews and find out Who’s got heart!

 

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Pete Carroll – The Man, The Hair, The Coach

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 It’s probably time that I admit I love Pete CarrolI.

I love the way he coaches, his energy, his hair (less robust recently, but still) and mostly his enthusiasm. I can’t help but feel and sincerely hope that this is his time.

Pete Carroll has been the coach of the Seahawks for 3 years but of course, his football career started long before that. Like most coaches, he played football himself but not without issue. He was always small for his age and weighing only 110 pounds, he had to get a doctors note to try out for his high school football team. Pretty cute, right? Anyway, after high school he ended up at the University of the Pacific where he met his wife Glena and post school he tried out for the Honolulu Hawaiians but didn’t make the cut. Carroll moved around the college teams acting as a graduate assistant, assistant and coordinator until he was eventually brought in to the NFL.

Working as a defensive coach for the Bills and Vikings he was made defensive coordinator by the Jets and by 1994 was promoted to his first head coaching position. It’s here he started his coaches basketball pick-up games that he is now known for, playing in the parking lot of the their practice facility. While his season started out well, it ended 6-10 and he was fired after only one season. After two successful years as defensive coordinator for the 49er’s he was given a second chance. This time as head coach of the New England Patriots, replacing legendary and much loved coach Bill Parcells. His happy go lucky energy was a stark change from the often irritable and serious Parcells. Jaysen Jenks wrote it this way “Parcells criticized his players in public, Carroll occasionally hugged his players in public.” He didn’t act like a head coach should, critics said he was too laid back, too soft, and that he absolutely had to stop taking his team out bowling. His second chance lasted three years. Robert Kraft, who owns the Patriots has said that firing Carroll was one of the hardest decisions he has made in since owning the team.

Carroll who had only ever worked one job outside of football decided to take a year off. He did some writing, some advising and some serious self examination. At the time his daughter was playing volleyball at the University of Southern California and they just happened to have a opening for head coach of their football team. Now our guy Pete had not coached at the college level for nearly two decades and this was certainly not a forward career move but Carroll actively pursued the position. He wasn’t their first choice, or their second. In fact he was their fourth. Three other coaches turned down the position before they gave it to him. And when they did, the USC community did not like the decision. Fans, alumni and donors sent close to 2500 complaints to the athletic department.

And with very little to lose he started doing things his way. The program was not doing well. They had not made a national championship in 10 years. During the next decade that Carroll spent at USC, he won them 2 national championships and got them to 7 consecutive top 4 finishes. The athletic department revenue nearly doubled. I could go on and on explaining his many accomplishments but suffice it to say, he turned the program around. He implemented many of his now well known coaching tactics including holding all open practices and his weekly schedule; Tell the truth Mondays, Competition Tuesday, Turnover Wednesday etc. Then there were his pranks, a few of them involving USC alum Will Ferrell. I’ll add some links at the end of the article because a)I won’t do them justice and b) You should see how much fun his teams always seem to be having.

One of his biggest strengths was his ability to recruit, and it became a family affair after his son Brennan was brought in as recruiting coordinator. During his time at USC 53 of Carroll’s recruits were drafted to the NFL and of those, 14 were selected in the first round. That’s incredible! Now, here is where the Carroll Haters require their due. Reggie Bush (you may recognize him as Kim Kardashians ex boyfreind) was recruited to the Trojans and helped them to win a national championship. The NCAA began an investigation into USC in 2010 and found that Reggie Dear seemed to have accepted a few ‘improper gifts’ from USC recruiters that may have lured him to the program. Now Pete Carroll has denied knowing anything about this and as much as I love that hair, that is hard to believe. He was very involved in all aspects of the program and his own son was the recruiting coordinator.

Around this time he was offered the head coaching position for the Seattle Seahawks. He had been offered NFL positions during his time with the Trojans but Seahawks owner Paul Allen made him an offer he could not refuse. He was given near complete control over the team which allowed him the freedom he had become used to at the college level. He left USC in 2010 just in time for the NCAA sanctions to surface. They were very harsh and included the stripping of scholarships, the loss of a championship and two year ban on competing for the national title. Pete Carroll did not leave the team cheering.

But he did hit the ground running. He made over 200 changes in the Seahawks roster in his first season and although his two first seasons were ultimately unsuccessful , there were moments where we saw that perhaps Pete Carroll had found his stride. In 2012 he chose to start rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, a third round draft pick which led to his first winning season with the team. Last week Rick Reily of ESPN gave his guts points to Jim Harbaugh for starting Colin Kaepernick as quarterback. But Kaepernick was a first round draft pick. If he wasn’t go to start, who was? I think that Carroll’s pick of Wilson was more gutsy. And let’s not forget about Carroll’s formidable nickname at USC of ‘Big Balls Pete.’

He has BBQ’s in his training camp and snowball fights with his players. He runs the drills, he doesn’t just call them and he plays loud pop music during practice. He fucking rocks and he has so much gosh-darn. In 2005 he was interviewed for Mens Vogue…ridiculous but why not? They described his sideline personality as “a 9 year old boy who’s having a very good christmas” to which he responded “I always think something goods just about to happen.”

Well Pete, you’re going to the Superbowl and I too, have a feeling that something goods just about to happen.

Now that I’ve confessed and explained that particular compulsion, stay tuned! Next week I’ll be looking at some key players in the biggest, best and most wonderful game of the year!

Prank #1 – Pete Carroll punks Seahawk’s Raheem Brock with hotel bill

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8nM-3C3Y4I

Prank #2 – USC gets visited by Will Ferrell on Halloween

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO9daN5fH8M

Oh God, I forgot Pete Carroll is on Twitter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh5KweP3qdo

Kim and Reggie’s first photo shoot together

http://cdn1.kimkcdn.celebuzz.com/files/2009/03/Saint-Sinner-GQ-kim-kardashian-reggie-bush-April-2009-3