SEATTLE — One came into his first NFL head coaching job talking about toes on the line. The other one, the older one, sometimes has his players do yoga before practices, on the field, meditation, in search of their inner selves.
One is finally trying to loosen that locked jaw, though it might be too late. The other is a renowned media smoothie, indefinitely free-spirited — fist pumping at 62, galloping down sidelines after scores, boundless positive energy for his players — their buddy.
Greg Schiano and Pete Carroll coach against each other today. Schiano’s Bucs are winless at 0-7. Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks are 7-1 and Super Bowl contenders. That’s not the biggest difference.
Granted, Carroll has been around longer, learned more. This is the fourth professional team he has coached, along with the Jets, the Patriots and Southern Cal.
We’re not saying Carroll is the better man. How can we after he hot-footed it out of Los Angeles before the NCAA lowered the boom. Sneaky Pete received a five-year, $33 million deal with the Seahawks. He’s in the fourth season.
Carroll isn’t about to tell Schiano, or any other coach, how to do his job.
“I would never give advice to Greg Schiano. He’s on his own right now,” Carroll said with a laugh during a conference call with Tampa reporters. “I love the guy. He’s working his tail off and he’s trying to get it right. I don’t have any words of advice. You’re going to have to ask him for some advice for me. He’s going to battle and get this thing right, I know.
“I just hope it doesn’t start this weekend.”
Meet two different temperature settings. Meet two guys who seem wound as differently as their original zip codes — Wyckoff, N.J., for Schiano and San Francisco for Carroll.
Did you know that when the Bucs traveled to the West Coast last season Schiano kept his players on East Coast time? If that sounds insane, well ...
At the Seahawks’ lake-side practice facility, the Go Green-est in the NFL, there’s an on-site barber and a DJ sometimes blasts music during practice. Upset of the year: no Starbucks.
For Pete’s sake, Greg, or for Greg’s sake, Greg, make some notes.
Carroll has become pro football’s answer to Joe Maddon.
Here’s Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson:
“Coach Carroll is the same guy every day. He’s going to be the most positive guy in the world. He’s going to uplift his players, he’s going to give you energy. And we feed off of that. Coach Carroll is a tremendous person. You’ve got to love playing for him.”
Hard to believe Carroll, the Sun King in rain bucket Seattle, is really 62, 15 years older than Schiano. In fact, Carroll is the second-oldest head coach in the NFL, younger than only Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is 67. Hey, we’re all getting older.
“You are. I’m not,” Carroll said.
So it would seem when it comes to Carroll connecting with players.
“There’s been a conversation as far as the philosophy and the approach that these guys have latched onto, and if we’re not having a good time doing it, then I’m screwing it up,” he said.
“I’ve always felt like that. So I’ve got to find a way to make it into the game that they love. That does not mean I have to beat them into the ground or beat their heads against a wall — find a different way to get these guys to work at their best and be disciplined about it.”
Carroll became Jets head coach when he was 43. He lost his job after one season. He became Patriots head coach at 46 — Schiano was 45 when he was named Bucs head coach — and lasted three years. He wasn’t the first, second or even third choice to be USC coach. At one point under Carroll, before the NCAA fuzz arrived, USC went 67-7 and won two national championships.
Then came his return to the NFL, Seattle, 2010, with lessons learned from those previous NFL head coaching stops, where he was a combined 33-31.
“Really, after getting let go at New England, things changed,” Carroll said. “The opportunity to go to (USC) and run a program, to totally be in charge of the whole thing, to run every aspect of it, really gave me the opportunity to get my thoughts together and philosophy together and put it into practice. ... Every year helps. You always learn. You get better as you go. This is a job you really have to grow into, kind of.”
Look, it’s still about talent. Being a players’ coach doesn’t mean a thing if they’re not good players who don’t win. Carroll is Seattle’s de facto GM. There are only seven Seahawks left from when he took over. He has built a powerhouse, a young one at that, brimming with confidence and enthusiasm — you see it in their games. It’s an infection that doesn’t require HAZMAT sweeps. And the head coach is a carrier.
“This game, to me, has always been about playing,” Carroll said. “You get ready to play the game you love. So I think that the environment that you create needs to be one that supports the learning that has to take place and the pressure that’s involved, the rigors and the challenges and all that, and the way we do it is we couldn’t be more serious about the football than we are, but we have fun doing it.”
Pete Carroll isn’t giving anyone advice.
Greg Schiano should meditate on it just the same.