LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans talks on his headset against the Oregon State Beavers on October 24, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. USC won 42-36. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Pete Carroll has been the hot girl at the bar that won’t really talk to anyone, despite every guy’s best efforts. For years he has been courted by and turned down numerous advances from NFL teams.
But now -- with an NCAA investigation coming to an end around USC -- things may be different. The Seattle Seahawks are close to reaching a deal with Carroll, the Los Angeles Times reported:
A Seahawks contingent including CEO Tod Leiweke interviewed Carroll in Los Angeles earlier this week to gauge his interest in replacing Mora. Carroll has long been considered a candidate to return to the NFL, where he coached the New York Jets (1994) and New England Patriots (1997-1999). However, Carroll’s greatest success has come at the collegiate level.
Although the Seahawks and Carroll are close to a deal, which is believed to be a five-year contract to become president and head coach at $7 million a year, nothing has been signed, said sources close to the situation who are not authorized to speak on his behalf.
The story broke earlier in the day when ESPN’s Chris Mortinson reported that Carroll was indeed interested in the Seahawks. Seattle fired coach Jim Mora on Friday morning, and by noon, the news that Carroll was serious this time had reached ESPN.
Mortinson added that Carroll is trying to recruit Trojans offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to join him. However. Carroll told Mortinson via text that he does not talk about the NFL. USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone released a statment that said in part, "Pete's name comes out at this time every year. In the past, he hasn't commented on such reports... At this point, we have nothing to report. Perhaps check with the Seahawks."
Carroll was head coach of the Jets and Patriots before leading with the Trojans, finishing four seasons with a 33-31 record. The Seahawks were 5-11 last season, a disappointing finish for a team many thought had the talent to do better. It is an organization owned by Microsoft’s Paul Allen, who has more money than just about anyone not named Gates. It is a franchise with potential.
Other teams that have had potential have come calling to Carroll, only to have him pump up the USC faithful by saying he loves it in Southern California and wants to stay here for the rest of his career. He was having too much fun.
But it would be a lot less fun to coach USC if hard-hitting sanctions on the program came down. The NCAA investigation into improper benefits that former running back Reggie Bush received is nearing completion and there are rumors the football program could get hit hard. The investigation has been combined with an investigation of OJ Mayo and the basketball team at USC — the dreaded “institutional control” issue. USC Athletic Director already threw the men’s basketball team under the bus trying to save football.
Plus, this year may not have been that much fun. This season marked the Trojans' worst since Carroll's first in 2001. The team finished with a 9-4 record, losing three of their last five regular-season games. That slide included a humiliating 55-21 home loss to Stanford.
All that may be enough to push Carroll to the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.