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An NFL Failure? Not Pete Carroll

Speaking to several members of the media recently, the subject came up of outstanding college football coaches who had failed in the NFL.

Lou Holtz was high on that list. His college teams won 388 games, including 132 at Notre Dame, but one year he went into the NFL and his New York Jets had a 3-11 record.

When Pete Carroll was presiding over a collegiate dynasty at USC from 2000 to 2009 he seemed to find his niche.

His Trojans were nationally prominent, so why would he leave?

The Trojans had won two national championships and ranked in the nation's top four seven times.

Well, there was this matter of wanting to upgrade his NFL image, to prove he really could succeed at the highest level of football. He had been a head coach in the NFL for four years 11 years before landing at USC and had mediocre results.

He has proven his point.

The Seattle Seahawks gave him the opportunity he wanted. They now rank among the NFL's best teams and Carroll would like nothing better than winning the upcoming Super Bowl.

We're down to four teams now and the Seahawks will be playing at home in their noisy stadium this weekend against their division rival, the San Francisco 49ers.

If they win the final challenge would be either Denver or New England, both powerhouse opponents.

The lesser teams, like the ones Carroll coached in his four seasons as an NFL head coach, have been eliminated.

So I now think back to Carroll's nine years at USC. He was not a popular choice as fans clamored for someone who had been more successful in the past.

It didn't help when the Trojans, under Carroll, lost five of their first seven games. But given a year to get adjusted he answered all the doubters.

Fans responded with 90,000 sellout crowds at the Coliseum.

When I attended Carroll's weekly media sessions on Tuesdays I saw how a supremely confident, well organized coach operates.

He answered questions. He didn't dodge any of them. He had nothing to hide. He was, in a word, terrific.

I see how USC has fallen from grace since he left. I see chaos with the Lane Kiffin firing and the emergence of Jim Mora at UCLA, with the Bruins beating the Trojans the last two years.

I'm not saying another Trojan coach won't reverse the new trend. But look what Carroll accomplished at USC. And look what he's done with the Seahawks, who weren't special before he arrived.

Carroll has put together a solid defense in Seattle. He was a one-time defensive backs assistant coach in the NFL and he takes pride in the strength of the Seahawks' secondary.

I see Richard Sherman and I think about the premier defensive backs he tutored at USC.

So, win or lose in his march toward the Super Bowl Carroll has, with an exclamation point, removed his name from the list of outstanding college coaches who've been NFL failures.


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