Seattle Seahawks targeting Pete Carroll as their next coach [updated]
A Seahawks contingent including CEO Tod Leiweke interviewed Carroll in Los Angeles earlier this week to gauge his interest in replacing Mora. Carroll has long been considered a candidate to return to the NFL, where he coached the New York Jets (1994) and New England Patriots (1997-1999). However, Carroll’s greatest success has come at the collegiate level.
Although the Seahawks and Carroll are close to a deal, which is believed to be a five-year contract to become president and head coach at $7 million a year, nothing has been signed, said sources close to the situation who are not authorized to speak on his behalf.
The Seahawks are owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the league's richest owner, and are among the most image conscious franchises in the NFL. They will be looking to make an immediate splash with a coaching replacement while also trying to prevent former general manager Mike Holmgren, who is the new president of the Cleveland Browns, from raiding key members of their personnel and coaching staff.
Carroll has not returned numerous phone calls and texts this morning seeking comment.
"Pete's name comes out at this time every year," said Tim Tessalone, USC sports information director. "In the past, he hasn't commented on such reports. He was not expected in today. I've put a message out to him, but haven't heard back yet. At this point, we have nothing to report. Perhaps check with the Seahawks."
Mora coached the Seahawks one season, finishing 5-11. The organization has also contacted Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier about the job, but he declined the invitation for an interview. He was thought to be a serious candidate, and his interview would have satisfied the Rooney Rule, which requires that a minority be interviewed for each opening. It is unclear if any other minority coaches have been interviewed or contacted by Seattle.
Holmgren has already brought in Will Lewis, Seattle's director of pro personnel, to interview for the general manager's position with the Browns. Lewis and Holmgren have worked together for the last decade.Carroll has enjoyed an historic run at USC despite being the school’s fourth, and unpopular, choice when Paul Hackett was fired after the 2000 season.
USC administrators pursued Dennis Erickson, Mike Riley and Mike Bellotti before offering the job to Carroll, who had a 34-34 as an NFL head coach and had been fired by the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.
But Carroll, who is 97-19 in nine seasons, proved a tirelessly effective recruiter.
The Trojans struggled in the first half of the 2001 season, but won their final four regular-season games and finished 6-6 after a loss to Utah in the Las Vegas.
The program began to hit its stride in the middle of the 2002 season, the Trojans beginning a run that would include two national titles, seven consecutive Pacific 10 Conference championships, seven straight Bowl Championship Series bowl appearances and Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.
Carroll’s success helped him increase his compensation from about $1 million when he was hired to $4.4 million, making him the highest paid private university employee in the United States.
NFL teams pursued him almost yearly. He turned down the opportunity to become coach of the San Francisco 49ers, interviewed with the Miami Dolphins on a parked airplane in Costa Rica and also met in the last few years with the owners of the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins.
Over the years, he has referred to the NFL has the "No Fun League," and has said he had no desire to return to the lifestyle of an NFL coach.
But his competitiveness always seemed like it would draw him back to prove those who deemed him a failure in the NFL.
Carroll also had the specter of possible NCAA sanctions looming over the program.
USC has been under scrutiny since 2006 because of allegations that Bush accepted thousands of dollars in cash from would-be marketing agents and that his parents lived rent free in a home in San Diego.
In December, USC’s compliance department began investigating tailback Joe McKnight’s use of a sport utility vehicle that is owned by a Santa Monica businessman with marketing interests.
McKnight, who has one season of eligibility remaining, said Friday that he would make himself available for the NFL draft.
-- Sam Farmer and Gary Klein
Photo: Pete Carroll. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire