COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - One springs practical jokes on his team, oozes charisma and sprinkles his conversation with the word ``dude.'' He's been called an ``aging hipster dad.''
The other wears sweater vests, refers to his players as ``young champions'' and appears to part his hair with a laser pointer it's so straight. Even those closest to him marvel at his single-point focus and privately chuckle that he may not have human emotions
Southern California's Pete Carroll and Ohio State's Jim Tressel are both in their mid-50s and have been coaching ultra-successful college football programs for eight seasons.
They meet in a showdown Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Their programs have so much in common, yet it would be hard to fathom two more different personalities at the top.
ollege Sports. ``Tressel couldn't be that way - he'd get laughed at. But he is very comfortable and confident in who he is and how he does things.''
Both are hard workers, of course. Both have also been accused of being overly ambitious. They've taken widely divergent paths to get to the apex of their sport.
Carroll, like Tressel, was a quarterback in high school. He spent three years as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, before working as a GA for another season at Arkansas. Earle Bruce, then the coach at Iowa State, gave him his first full-time job coaching the secondary in 1978 and then brought him along when he succeeded Hall of Famer Woody Hayes as the head coach at Ohio State in 1979.
Bruce, now retired and living part of the year in Columbus where he is an Ohio State football analyst on radio, remembers Carroll as a young, raw coach.
``Pete was alert, he knew the game of football,'' he said. ``He could relate well with kids. But the Southern Cal kid he would relate to better. He really fits the Southern Cal job very, very well.''
Carroll spent only one year at Ohio State, but has vivid memories.
One day he was sitting in a football office at drab St. John Arena. He then spotted Hayes, who had been fired for punching a player at the 1978 Gator Bowl, walking back from teaching a class. Carroll ran outside.
e knew who I was. I was all thrilled,'' Carroll said. ``We talked football. That was my one chance I had to visit with him.''
Six years later, Carroll was an NFL assistant. After nine years as an assistant he spent a year as the head coach of the New York Jets, going 6-10. Fired from that job, he spent two more years back in his hometown of San Francisco as the 49ers' defensive coordinator before going 27-21 in three years as the head coach of the New England Patriots. Let go after the 1999 season, he was hired at USC in 2001. Since then, all he's done is go 76-14, win national championships in 2003 and 2004 and guide his team to the No. 1 spot this year.
``Pete is very effervescent, very likable,'' said former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, now an analyst for ESPN. ``He has high energy.''
Tressel, the son of a legendary Ohio small-college coach, has never coached in high school or the pros. His stops along the way to the capital of football-mad Ohio included Akron, Miami (Ohio) and Syracuse before he was hired by Bruce to coach quarterbacks in 1983.
e 2002 national championship and losing in the title game each of the past two years.
``Jim Tressel is a card player; you never know what he has,'' Holtz said. ``He plays it very close to the vest. But still he's very confident, very smart.''
His players say Tressel never wavers, never falters.
``He tries not to change his persona or his preparation because he feels like we should take the same precautions for every game,'' cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. ``But when big games come, he puts emphasis on doing all the little things right and making sure that guys are focused and enthused about what we're trying to get done.''
One in La-La Land, one in America's heartland. They are perfect fits for their schools and their cities.
``They both have a commitment from (their administrators) and a belief system about the way things should be done,'' Alberts said. ``They're consistent.''
Two coaches, two paths, two personalities.
``They are very different,'' Holtz said. ``But they arrive at the same place.''
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

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