January 09, 2010

It's still overwhelmingly likely that Pete Carroll will be the new coach of the Seattle Seahawks -- but it's not a done deal yet.

Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke will fly to the Los Angeles area to interview Carroll for a second time either Sunday or Monday, a source close to the talks said Saturday night. That could be the final step in a stunning story that would send one of college football's most charismatic coaches back to the pro game. Carroll previously coached the Patriots and Jets for a total of four mediocre seasons before becoming the USC coach in 2001 and winning two national championships -- a shared title in 2003 and an outright one in 2004.

Carroll probably can't go back to USC because its recruiting season lies in ruins, which lends more urgency to his meeting with the Seahawks boss and puts a little pressure on Carroll to accept the terms of the Seattle deal. The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday afternoon Carroll has been offered a five-year, $32.5-million contract -- but without the kind of personnel control he'd prefer to take the job. SI.com's Jim Trotter reported that Carroll would not have total control over the 53-man roster, which was a revelation because it had been assumed the only way Carroll would return to the NFL was if he could coach and have final say over team personnel matters.

Seattle needs Carroll. Clearly the team fired Jim Mora on Friday with the expectation that Carroll would be coming. Owner Paul Allen wants a coach with a name, which Carroll clearly is. But Allen is also clear that he doesn't want his coach to have the kind of potentate role that Mike Holmgren had a decade ago.

Leiweke completed an interview with Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier early Saturday afternoon to satisfy the National Football League's Rooney Rule, which mandates teams interview at least one minority candidate for head-coaching openings. That interview will have meaning with Seattle only if the Carroll talks implode.

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