Before the rivalry between Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh ever took flight, Carroll's son Nate was briefly recruited to the University of San Diego by Harbaugh. The unique backstory to the relationship between the coaches of the NFC's top teams was set while Harbaugh was coaching USD from 2004-2006.
"I was a high school football player, recruited by small schools and I wasn't planning on playing in college. I wasn't paying much attention to the recruiting. Then I got recruited by San Diego, and they'd had a couple good years, and they had Harbaugh," Nate Carroll told NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport. "That was intriguing. He had the pedigree, an NFL quarterback, and I grew up watching him play football, throwing that Hail Mary (in 1995)."
The younger Carroll, now an assistant with the Seahawks, ultimately went to USC instead, where his father was wildly successful as a head coach. But he did make an official visit to USD, and even hosted Harbaugh on a home visit. Carroll said his father, by chance, wasn't at home at the time.
"I remember going down and they had the conditioning program. And he would run the conditioning drills with the players. He would do the sprints and he kept winning them. But ultimately, I decided to go to USC. Free tuition for my family, and I decided not to play football. But hey, he was a great recruiter. I didn't want to play in college, but he got me thinking about it," Nate said.
As for the frosty history between his father and Harbaugh, the younger Carroll downplayed the subplot as the two prepare to clash Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.
"Obviously, my opinion has changed a few times. Haha," Nate Carroll said. "He went to Stanford and beat us, a great coach. And of course, there were childish things back and forth between the coaches, but that was not nearly as bad as it sounded in the public. There is a lot of mutual respect, but I don't think animosity anymore."
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.