ERA COMING TO AN END AT USC

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With Pete Carroll’s impending move to the NFL one of the great eras in college football may be coming to an end.  

The author took this picture of Carroll after he defeated the Ohio State in Columbus.

The author took this picture of Carroll after he defeated the Ohio State in Columbus.

Under Carroll USC from 2002-2008 won eleven or more games, seven straight Pac-10 titles and played in a record seven straight BCS Bowl games and won national titles in 2003 and 2004.

Under Carroll Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush all won Heisman trophies and the Trojans joined the Lakers as LA’s most popular sports team. 

Earlier this week Seattle Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke interviewed Carroll in Los Angeles and apparently with an agreement imminent, Friday the Seahawks fired first year head coach Jim Mora (5-11) with three years and almost 12 million remaining on his contract.  

In the past the Dolphins, Falcons, Chargers, and Cardinals of the NFL have courted Carroll but the reported offer of total control of football operations by the Seattle Seahawks has the charismatic Carroll on the verge of agreeing to a multi-year contract. Carroll reportedly earned $4.4 million in 2008 at USC and according to the LA Times the Seattle Seahawks are said to be offering him $7 million per season. 

For USC the timing is particularly troublesome as Carroll was in the process of signing another star studded recruiting class. Star recruits such as WR Kyle Prater of Illinois, RB Dillon Baxter, and athlete Robert Woods playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio were shocked by the news of Carroll “reportedly” leaving USC. Prater who was planning on flying to LA to enroll at USC on Monday, now will return to Illinois to ponder his future with his family.   

Carroll may be looking to get out of USC before looming NCAA sanctions and a new university president takes over in the fall.  NCAA investigators have not yet ruled on the Reggie Bush case and his mother’s San Diego house. Recently a judge ruled against the family request to keep such payments private.

USC’s troubled basketball program who ran coach Tim Floyd out over cash payments to a runner of OJ Mayo, recently self-imposed sanctions including a ban on all post-season play this year, returned NCAA Tournament revenue, and reduced basketball scholarships and outside recruiting by coaches. 

One step ahead of the NCAA, USC threw their basketball program under the bus in hopes of deflecting NCAA attention from its cash-cow football program. RB Joe McKnight’s recent bowl game suspension after being seen driving an SUV registered to his girl friend’s boss brings further attention to the issue of “institutional control” over its football program.  

Dark clouds loom over USC AD Mike Garrett and many people expect that the new USC president will remove him. Carroll was Garrett’s hand- picked coach although number four on his list after Mike Bellotti, Mike Riley, and Dennis Erickson all turned him down.

In the past 48 hours USC leading WR Damian Williams, and leading rusher Joe McKnight declared their intention to forego their senior seasons joining DE Everson Griffen who announced the same on December 26. Senior back-up QB Aaron Corp announced he would transfer to Richmond.

Signs of trouble in Troy became evident last January as Carroll argued against and then stormed out of a press conference where Mark Sanchez announced he would forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft leaving USC without a proven quarterback.  This past season USC lost four conference games and failed to win the Pac-10 and play in a BCS bowl for the first time since Carroll’s first year at USC in 2001.  

Now questions loom over whether Carroll is leaving for the money and challenge of the NFL who he constantly referred to while at USC as the “No Fun League”, or whether he wants out before the NCAA imposes sanctions on the USC program. 

As Nick Saban just won his second national championship his name appeared along with Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer and Joe Paterno as active coaches who have won two NCAA D1 national championships.  That club looks like it will be back to three members again. 

For USC it could spell their fall from the elite of college football.  The last time the Trojans played for a coach other than Carroll they lost to Notre Dame to finish 5-7 and tied for last in the Pac-10.