Sunday, October 16, 2011

Harbaugh vs. Schwartz - NBC digs in

From NBC Sports -

Costas, Patrick, Dungy & Harrison at halftime on Schwartz-Harbaugh
The buzz around the league tonight, and no doubt into the early part of the upcoming week, is about the confrontation and near-throw down between Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and his Detroit counterpart, Jim Schwartz.

The league will sort through the whys and wherefores though it appears the likely conclusion will be that whatever the initial provocation, Schwartz's overreaction was the greater breach of professionalism.
But while that moment goes viral, the larger fact is that the similarities between Schwartz and Harbaugh outweigh their present differences. Schwartz took over a team that was 0-16 when he arrived two-and-a-half years ago. Despite today's narrow loss, they sit at 5-1, winners of nine of their last 10 dating back to last season. And as for Harbaugh, consider this: a year ago, the Niners were 6-10 under Mike Singletary. Harbaugh, taking over with abbreviated preparation due to the lockout and with no significant changes in personnel from Singletary's squad, has them at 5-1, with only an overtime loss to the Cowboys marring that record.

Be it a change in tactics, atmosphere or inspiration, it's clear that the difference here is Harbaugh himself. And he's done it before. The Stanford Cardinal were 1-11 the year before Harbaugh arrived. Four seasons later, they were 12-1, and Harbaugh was a Bay area icon and the obvious choice to attempt to return the Niners to what had begun to seem like long-lost glory.

Harbaugh has always had an edge to him. He famously, or infamously, if you prefer, went for two late in a 55-21 win over USC. The postgame handshake after that one led to this question from an angry Pete Carroll, “What's your deal?”

The answer to that question is apparently, to quote the noted sage, Charlie Sheen, “Duh, winning!” And not caring much how many friends outside his own locker room he makes along the way.

From what I'm told, Schwartz is pretty much the same sort of guy. Maybe one day the two will sit down over a beer and recognize they're actually kindred spirits, though somehow I doubt it.

Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison at halftime on Harbaugh-Schwartz

Patrick: “What is protocol there?”
Dungy: “Protocol is not for you to retaliate, if you are Jim Schwartz, by chasing the other coach down into the tunnel and going after him. I don’t know what Jim Harbaugh said, but whatever he said, it didn’t merit that.”
Harrison: “Both coaches were wrong. Jim Harbaugh, first of all, smacked him on the back. Putting your hands on a grown man, you can’t do that. If you’re Jim Schwartz, what do you tell your kids?”
Patrick: “Your players, too.”
Dungy: “Be a bigger man.”
Harrison: “Exactly, walk away from the situation. You can’t control what Jim Harbaugh does, but you can control what you do.”
Patrick: “But their temperament, they were in the moment, too. You have to factor that in.”
Dungy: “And that happens, but you have to say, if you are Jim Schwartz, you know what, let me go in the locker room and tell our guys, ‘I hope we see these guys again.’”
Harrison: “But Jim Schwartz is that same type of guy. We see him every week slamming his hands and celebrating.”

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