Is all news good news? Ask Pete Carroll
When Pete Carroll signed his book deal in April 2009 -- for somewhere upward of $500,000 -- he was known as the most winning active coach in college football, with an 88-15 record in his nine seasons at USC. By the time "Win Forever" came out, he'd switched jobs, returning to the NFL to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
And shortly before the book made it to shelves, the scandal broke.
In June, the NCAA announced sanctions against USC for rules violations during Carroll's tenure. Many of those violations were connected to star football player Reggie Bush -- USC has said it will return its copy of his Heisman trophy -- and while Carroll has said he was unaware of them, his own hiring of a coach/consultant was also considered a violation.
Carroll's reputation, which had verged on the heroic, has been, in some quarters, tarnished. There has been name calling; at CBSSports.com, columnist Gregg Doyel wrote, "Carroll is an idiot or a liar. And he's not an idiot."
And then there's the book. MSNBC's ProFootballTalk blogger Mike Florio has been referring to it by invented, alternate titles: "Win Forever . . . And Then Just Ignore It When They Take Those Wins Away After Evidence of Cheating Emerges" and, more simply, "Cheat Forever."
But does the bad news for Carroll's reputation mean bad news for his book? Co-written with Yogi Roth, the book isn't really a memoir. While it's filled with anecdotes from Carroll's USC coaching years, it's designed to be a kind of self-help, with football. In the style of John Wooden's books, it takes Carroll's winning coaching philosophy and translates it for everyday life.
The scandal hasn't stopped Carroll from making the book tour rounds. He was back in Los Angeles last week; the independent bookstore Vroman's -- located in Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl -- tells Jacket Copy that "Win Forever" didn't make its bestseller list, but "it's moving relatively well." It's currently in the 90s on Amazon.com's top 100 Self-Help category, and a publicist working with the book says it will make a national how-to bestseller list next week.
Has the scandal eaten away at the book's momentum? It's hard to say. This may be a case of all news being good news -- any conversation that touches on Carroll's phenomenal coaching tenure at USC has a chance of making readers hungry for his book.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Pete Carroll at a USC pregame warm-up in September 2009. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
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