Two more wins, and Pete Carroll joins the list. Two more wins, and he joins the only two head coaches in NFL history to add a Super Bowl title to their college championship: Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.

That's an objective list, cut-and-dried, stated as a fact and not an opinion. Johnson and Switzer did it. Pete Carroll is two wins away -- the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the 49ers, then the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in New York City against the Broncos or Patriots -- from giving that club a third member.

What would that list mean in a subjective sense? To me, not much. Because I've seen enough from Pete Carroll to call him something I was never -- and by that I mean, ever -- prepared to call him when he was at Southern California, or even last season with the Seahawks:

Pete Carroll, I'm now willing to concede, is one of the greatest football coaches alive.

As it happens, one of the only coaches I'm willing to even consider as his superior will be waiting Sunday in the NFC championship game. And as that happens, Pete Carroll and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh don't like each other. Haven't since they were both in the Pac-10, Harbaugh at Stanford, Carroll at USC. Their relationship became a rivalry in 2007 when Harbaugh's first team, a 41-point underdog, stunned Carroll's No. 2 Trojans -- and their rivalry became a national story two years later when Stanford beat USC 55-21 and Harbaugh tried to run it up late, going for two points after taking a 48-21 lead with 6:47 left, after which Carroll asked him at midfield, "What's your deal?"

Since then they've moved to the NFL, to the NFC West, where they've built the best two franchises in the conference if not the whole league. Harbaugh's NFL success never surprised me. For some reason, Carroll's did. And I say that knowing the guy needed exactly one year at USC -- which had been distressingly mediocre from 1983-2001 -- to rebuild the Trojans into a national power. He averaged 11 wins from 2002-09, won national titles in 2003 and '04 and finished ranked in the top four seven years in a row (2002-08).

But his success in the NFL caught me off-guard. He started slowly in Seattle, going 7-9 each of his first two seasons starting in 2010, but he has turned the Seahawks -- who had won just four games in '08 and five in '09 -- into a 24-8 juggernaut the past two seasons. Overall he's 41-28 with three playoff appearances, and three playoff victories (so far), in four seasons.