LOS ANGELES -- Pete Carroll says the only reason he is leaving Southern California to become Seattle Seahawks coach is because the challenge was too good to pass up.
The Seahawks hired the charismatic coach away from USC on
At a news conference later on USC's campus, Carroll said "It
hurts to separate."
Carroll's departure ends one of the most successful runs in
college football history. He was 97-19, with two national
championships and seven Pac-10 titles in nine seasons at USC.
He also leaves with the football program facing an NCAA
Carroll says his decision to leave has nothing to do with the
investigation. He says he thought he would be at USC "forever."
Carroll's resignation caught his players off-guard. The group
that straggled into Heritage Hall for an afternoon meeting chose
USC largely on the strength of Carroll's success and charisma, but
they returned to classes Monday with no idea what was next.
"I kind of didn't want to come to the meeting today, but it's
something you've got to do," said tailback Allen Bradford, who
will be the Trojans' top returning rusher with Joe McKnight's early
departure for the NFL. "How he got us training and competing, I
don't think that's ever going to leave us. The new coach coming in
is going to see this team is hungry and wants to win."
Bradford planned to hold a players-only meeting in the locker
room after Carroll's farewell address.
The hiring of the 58-year-old Carroll capped a busy weekend for
Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke. On Friday, the team fired
coach Jim Mora following just one season, and Leiweke spent Sunday
completing a deal with Carroll.
"We are excited to add Pete as our coach. He brings a great
passion for winning and a positive attitude that is contagious,"
Next up for Leiweke is to hire a general manager.
They have at least four interviews to conduct to find the
general manager who will work with Carroll. Former Tennessee Titans
GM Floyd Reese is scheduled to interview, along with New York
Giants personnel man Marc Ross, Green Bay executive John Schneider
and Omar Khan, a contract administrator with Pittsburgh.
Seattle forced out general manager and president Tim Ruskell on
The Seahawks are set to introduce Carroll at their headquarters
in Renton, Wash., on Tuesday.
Carroll was 6-10 in 1994 with the Jets and then 27-21 while
twice reaching the playoffs from '97-99 with the Patriots.
He was hired by USC in December 2000, and by 2002 - after years
of mediocrity and underachievement - the Trojans were back to being
one of the elite teams in college football.
The Seahawks are also in need of some major rebuilding, just
four seasons after the team made its first and only Super Bowl
appearance. Seattle went 5-11 this season.
"We now turn our full attention to the hiring process for a
general manager," Leiweke said. "Our intended structure is for
Pete and the new GM to work in a collaborative capacity on football
How much control Carroll would have over football operations
with the Seahawks was a key issue throughout the negotiations.
The USC program, meanwhile, is now leaderless at a difficult
time. The school has been under NCAA scrutiny for several years due
as the organization investigates allegations former Trojans
tailback Reggie Bush received improper benefits from a marketing
Another potential NCAA problem arose last month when McKnight
was forced to sit out the Emerald Bowl while the school
investigated his use of an SUV that was not registered to him.
McKnight, along with star wide receiver Damian Williams,
declared for the NFL draft as juniors last week.
With national signing day for college football recruits on Feb.
3, the timing of Carroll's move also puts USC's recruiting class in
USC has already sanctioned its basketball program for recruiting
violations involving former player O.J. Mayo, including a ban on
postseason play this season. Mayo allegedly received improper cash
and gifts while at USC and playing for former coach Tim Floyd, who
quit in June.
Carroll flirted with the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons
in recent years, but did not take a the plunge for a third NFL
stint until the Seahawks, with owner and Microsoft Corp. tycoon
Paul Allen, came calling last week.
Even outside football, Carroll has become a prominent figure in
Los Angeles during his tenure in the nation's second-largest media
market. His charity endeavors, including his A Better LA
foundation, and social work with inner city youth have earned high
Oregon State coach Mike Riley, a former USC assistant and one of
the first names to surface as a possible candidate to replace
Carroll, agreed to a three-year contract extension Monday. If
embattled athletic director Mike Garrett goes after another former
NFL coach, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio
are former Trojans who could be targets - although Fisher, the
NFL's longest-tenured head coach, previously said he's not
"Whoever we get in, I'm pretty sure he's going to be a great
coach," USC defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. "It's still a
great program, great players here, and it's still going to get you
to the next level."
Pete Carroll Says He Wanted New Challenge
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