When I heard that Pete Carroll was leaving USC to go coach and be the grand poobah of the Seattle Seahawks, my first thought was that he was crazy. Then I thought about it and I said to myself that I would jump from a sinking ship too. That is just what USC is, a sinking ship. They are no longer the powerhouse of college football and I believe the NCAA is going to come down hard on them for NCAA violations and put them on probation for a few years. The NCAA sanctions part is just pure speculation but I think it is going to happen. The Reggie Bush thing, the Joe McKnight thing is just the tip of the iceberg. To leave sunny southern California for gloomy Seattle takes a lot of cajones and of course, a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, Seattle is a beautiful place but it is not like southern Cali. Carroll has stated that he loves challenges and this is exactly what he now has on his hands. This franchise has gone straight down the tubes and he believes he can resurrect the Seahawks franchise and return them to NFC West supremacy. This thing will take three to four years but I think Carroll will do much better than his first and second time around in the NFL.
Pete Carroll joined ESPN Radio in L.A. to talk about what his process has been like up in Seattle, is thoughts about the outpouring of emotion and support with all the USC fans sorry to see him go, Mark Sanchez’s press conference last year and what was going through his head, and when he took the Seattle job and what the first thing was that he wanted to change.
On what his process has been like up in Seattle:
“Yeah we have been sliding. With all of those things that you have to do right at the start it really checks you out. We are sliding around with staff. We have gotten to the process of finding a general manager in John Schneider. We announced that today and the ongoing evaluation is to try and catch up with the club, the players that are here, and the program so we can start zeroing in on the things that we need to do between the upcoming draft and the free agency that comes up. There is a lot of things happening all at once and it is most entertaining because there is a lot happening.”
His thoughts about the outpouring of emotion and support with all the USC fans sorry to see him go:
“Well it was hard in all directions. Honestly we had the staff with long time relationships with everybody. My family of course with all of the USC family and all of the players just alums and everybody. We had deep relationships that you really can’t tend to them. We just have to deal with moving and going on. It is a challenge and its difficult and all that. I am going to miss every aspect of it. Everything that we did I miss but this is just a different involvement, a different challenge and all of that that took me here. I wish there was some way or the right time where there was a way to kind of break up to do it that everybody was ok about but there wasn’t. We just have to go through it. I loved my time at USC and everybody that we associated with from the players to fans and all of that. It’s been difficult but this is just one of those challenges with the format that was just so ideally set up we just had to go for it. That is kind of my nature and I hope somehow it helps people understand that is was just one of those things that I couldn’t pass up this challenge so I had to go for it.”
On Lane Kiffin’s hiring and when he first heard about it:
“Well I just heard about it right before it happened. They did that in very quick order and it just happened within hours when I kind of got wind of it from the fellas and what as going on. Big shift, I think from the players and the program that it is a big win. They get the philosophy that they have grown under and then there will be a fresh new flavor and all of that. They feel very good about that part of it and the recruiting class is staying together. This is a remarkable recruiting class and they have been able to hold onto that with great effort and all. So I think it is a transition that will be very good for the football side of it. There has been a big stir about it with the Tennessee thing and all of that. It is all real stuff and it is tough to orchestrate this transition and change. All in all I think it will come together very well and I think you will see a really high powered offense and one of the greatest defensive coaches that has ever lived in Monte Kiffin and running that defense. So there has got to be a lot of excitement about it as well as what the heck just happened.”
On what Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron will mean to the program:
“It is hard to imagine to everyone how big-time a coach that Monte Kiffin is. He was a great college coach. They won national championships at Nebraska, where he went to school, back-to-back back in the ‘70’s and he went on to Lou Holtz. That is where I met him in Arkansas as a graduate assistant and then started up an NFL career that was just extraordinary. One of the great run defenses that anyone had seen in years and years in this league in rival to the Buddy Ryan type of years and all. So they get a great defensive coach in a guy that invented the Tampa 2, the defense that everybody talks about on Sundays and around and around. So he is a great coach in support of Lane, his son. Then ‘O’ is just a remarkable character. He is one of a kind and one of the most intensive guys I have ever been around and is just extremely effective recruiter as you know and a great coach too. Just an iconic type of a figure in this program.”
On Mark Sanchez’s press conference last year and what was going through his head:
“Well honestly it had a strong opinion with what is happening to guys and I was worried for him. I was just worried for him like he was my very own and interestingly for you guys to know that his dad felt exactly the same way and so we had talked at great lengths even up until the day he announced where there was still another 72 hours his dad was in favor of us continuing to work on him seeing if he would stay and wait one more year to go. He maximized his time in preparation for the opportunity. As it has turned out Mark has done everything that he possibly could with it and a matter of fact even with the way his season went where he got to feel the extraordinary lift where he got to represent the city of New York as the winningest rookie ever and then have to turn around and endure the realities and the rigors of the NFL and just get pounded on for a few weeks. To hang through that and make it through it and now a chance to be playing for the conference championship is just extraordinary. The rise that he has had and the experience that he has had he will never have been able to repeat something that is so challenging but yet so rewarding. The early times is that we just didn’t agree and in a sense I was so fearful that he wouldn’t get everything out of the deal and then he wound up doing great in the preparation. He elevated himself to the fifth or sixth pick of the draft and that was awesome. Then they built the team around him that did not make the quarterback have to be the whole show. They played great defense, they ran the ball and gave him a chance to really grow at the position. They did it perfectly and they hung with him through the tough times, which is not always common. I think Rex did a fantastic job at managing this and look at what the outcome is. They are in the championship game and one hour, sixty minutes of play, to get to the Super Bowl. Fantastic and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him.”