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Ex-Patriot Head Coach Pete Carroll Back in the NFL?

Pete Carroll appears to be leaving USC for a return to the NFL. (LA Times/Wally Skalij)

Pete Carroll, the former Patriots and Jets head coach, appears headed back to the NFL, to take the Seattle Seahawks head coaching vacancy. Seattle just fired Jim Mora, Jr. after a single season at the helm, a disappointing 5-11 campaign. The Seahawks were immediately zoomed in on Carroll, currently the head man at the University of Southern California where he resurrected the Trojan program into one of the nation’s finest. He was 97-19 in nine seasons at SC with seven consecutive Pac-10 Championships, four Rose Bowl wins,¬†and two national titles.

Carroll’s Previous NFL Stints

Carroll was the Jets head coach in 1994, leading them to a 6-10 season and was fired after the season. He got the Patriots coaching job in 1997 and led the Patriots to a 10-6 season, first in the AFC East, and a playoff win over Miami before falling to Pittsburgh in the Divisional round. In 1998, the Patriots were 9-7 with a Wild Card round to Jacksonville. The follow season, the Patriots were 8-8, but missed the playoffs and he was let go once again. He was 27-21 with New England and 1-2 in the playoffs and has a 33-31 overall regular season record in the NFL.

Carroll Revives USC

He took the USC job in 2001 and led the Trojans to a 6-6 first season, including a loss in the Las Vegas Bowl. The following season began the seven year run of dominance in the Pac-10, never losing more than two games in any season. This past season, USC finished 9-4, including a win over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, their first non-BCS Bowl since the Las Vegas Bowl. The team has slipped with the loss of many players on both sides of the bowl in the past couple of years. On offense, he lost Heisman winners Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush. He also lost Matt Cassel, who never played behind Palmer and Leinart, Mark Sanchez, and LenDale White among others. He also has seen defensive gems Troy Polumalu and Rey Maualuga leave the program.

Possible Reasons for Departure

However, the impetus of his departure may be two-fold. Firstly, he is rumored to be signing for $7 million per season, a hefty raise of $2 million for one of the NCAA’s highest paid coaches. Secondly, and more importantly, USC may be looking at sanctions for a number of violations impacting the football and basketball programs. Bush and O. J. Mayo appear to have had agent related problems before leaving the program. USC also was shorthanded in the win over BC, down three suspended players, including star running back Joe McKnight, for possible violations as well. McKnight may have taken improper gifts after being seen in an Escalade that was not his and subsequently denying it. This also has one other small impact on BC. The two teams are scheduled for a home-and-home series in 2013-2014 in football. BC was signing up for a marquee set of games with USC, which may not turn out to be that with Carroll, and presumably some recruits, gone and possibly still dealing with NCAA penalties.

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