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The Pete Carroll Situation: My View

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When news broke of the Seattle Seahawks interested in Pete Carroll I was worried. I was worried that after 10 years and numourus NFL teams overtures toward Carroll, this may be the right situation for him to leave. Working in sports radio, I have heard what it would take to pry Carroll away from USC, and the Seahawks have the bullets to do it.

Paul Allen, the Seahawks owner, is in poor health and wants to win a title now. Allen is also the richest owner in sports and has no problem spending to get what he wants. When I heard that Carroll would be offered a contract that would be 5 years and ranging between $32.5 and $35 million dollars, I was not shocked or surprised. But I knew that Allen doesn’t want to have his head coach have personnel power since Mike Holmgren failed at it. 

Today, the firm that is conducting the GM search says that Carroll will not have control of the Seahawks player personnel (as team President). This could be the deal breaker.

Carroll has said that if he were to go back into the NFL as a head coach that he would have to have control of the personnel. He wants to, as Bill Parcells put it, “shop for the groceries”. If he can’t have that in Seattle, then why go? He has that at USC. He controls who his players are. He is the face of the school and the “King of L.A.”.

One problem is Mike Garrett, the A.D. There has been a rift for the last couple years between him and Carroll. But the thing that I keep going back to is the “blind eye” and nonchalant attitude Garrett has when it comes to controversies at USC. There has been more than a few under Garrett’s watch, from former USC basketball player Jeff Trepagnier, to Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo and even Joe McKnight.

Like Carroll, I don’t agree with letting your coaches be fed to the wolves (in this case the NCAA). He needs to assume responsibility of his programs. Garrett has been at USC since 1993 and has not done a great job. Many feel that Pete Carroll has saved Garrett’s job and that Garrett now is some what jealous of the love Carroll receives in the City of Angels and around USC.

Garrett failures (like letting the baseball program fall from grace and killing facilities upgrade) have been masked by Carroll and USC’s success. I don’t think Carroll wants to deal with Garrett anymore. Carroll told Garrett (about 3 weeks ago) that he was talking to Seattle. Garrett knew that Allen would throw a ton of money at Carroll, and USC couldn’t (or wouldn’t) match it, so he started to make calls, that is why Garrett had a list ready to go.

With the NCAA looking into transgressions by the football program and basketball program, some say Carroll wants to leave USC before they are sanctioned, leaving Garrett to clean up the mess, but I am not so sure about that. Carroll is USC football for all intents and purposes, whether Garrett likes it or not. Carroll re-built this program from years of mediocrity under poor choices as head coaches (again that goes back to Garrett’s decision-making).

Seattle, however, is a place that has some talent and two first round picks (#6 and #14). They are also in a weak division. But in order for the Seahawks to turn around and compete for an NFC West title they need leadership, a change in attitude, and someone who the fans can get excited about, and Carroll is that person that can do all three.

He has a career 33-31 record (including 1-2 in post season) in the NFL. He has always kept a strong relationship with NFL people and is looked upon as a person that, in the right circumstance, can be a successful NFL head coach. He hasn’t had a “fair shot” in the NFL. He was fired after a 6-10 season by the Jets. He then took charge of the Patriots (a years after they went to the Super Bowl under Parcells) and was let go after three years (27-21 record) for Bill Belichick.

But Seattle is not those Patriots and is more like the Jets team he coached. The Seahawks have an injury plagued and aging quarterback, no running game, a weak offensive line (especially at left tackle where Walter Jones is considering retirement), over paid and under producing wide receivers and a void at strong safety.

But he will be able to rebuild him in his image, like he did at USC. THAT is what he wants and the challenge that he craves. Carroll’s mantra at USC is “always compete”, and the NFL will be the maximum competition for Carroll. After 10 years, 8 BCS games, 3 Heisman winners, 2 National Championships, countless players sent to the NFL and more importantly he gave USC football back its pride and returned USC to glory.

Carroll may feel that he has done all he can do at USC and is ready to move on to a new challenge.

As a USC fan I will be sad if Carroll leaves. I take that back, it will be bitter-sweet. While I will be sad that he leaves and nervous about the direction of the program, I am also thankful for 10 years of watching USC compete for the National Title.

If Carroll leaves, every USC fan has their favorite to take over. Jeff Fisher has said that he is not interested and rumors are Jack Del Rio is interested. But I don’t see him as the next USC head coach. Mike Riley is Garrett’s favorite, but has turned USC down once before (and USC then hired Carroll) and I don’t see him leaving Oregon St.

That leaves Jim Harbaugh of Stanford or Steve Sarkisian of Washington as the two most likely people to take over the program. Both would be excellent candidates and are people who can continue the USC tradition. Harbaugh is a fiery guy that has turned Stanford around quickly, but he is also a person that NFL people have their eye on a potential head coach. Does USC want to have to answer this same question two or three years from now?

Sarkisian on the other hand is a young, smart, innovative coach that knows how things work at USC after being Carroll’s right hand man as offensive coordinator. He would be my choice.

He did a great job at Washington this past year and is an up and comer in coaching circles. He is also a pretty good recruiter, he did “steal” a couple recruits from Carroll last year. He would (most likely) bring his former college coach (Norm Chow) in as the offensive coordinator and promote Ken Norton as his defensive coordinator. I also have heard that former USC defensive line coach (and recruiting coordinator) Ed Orgeron would like to back to USC in the same capacity.

So if this is the end Pete Carroll, thank you. Thank you for everything you have done, not just at USC, but for the city of Los Angeles. I wish you could stay and continue what you have started at USC, at least until the NFL gives L.A. a team, then you could take them over. But you are, and always will be L.A.’s “unofficial mayor”. I wish you the best of luck in Seattle, and hopefully, we will meet again.



Written by Joe Arrigo

January 9, 2010 at 16:12

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