Minor editorial note: this is actually a joint post from me and Paragon.
People just kill me...
I love all the concern trolls out in the media (and elsewhere) who have now decided that it is time to turn on Pete Carroll after Saturday's loss in Seattle.
For the past 6-7 years the press has suckled at the USC teat for every little drop of wisdom that Pete Carroll had for them. They would shower him with praise and practically fall over waiting for the next word he would utter. They would marvel at the talent he amassed, talked about dynasties and the greatest team ever, and when USC lost a game here or there it was like the sky was falling or the earth had moved off its axis. Something had gone wrong in the natural order of things.
But now the tone has changed. The press has decided that the trend of SC dropping a game against an unranked conference opponent - which any basically sentient college football fan has noticed for some time - is proof that they were wrong: Pete Carroll isn't a genius, he's a fraud. He's underachieving. He's not perfect.
There are several ways that this shows up. The first is the tack taken by the local press, which makes a sharp shift from glowing admiration to personal criticism based on rumors and bias. The most typical criticisms are that he is a control freak or a stubborn SOB who can't recognize when he's wrong. In that case, I say big deal: he's a college football head coach - being stubborn or a control freak comes with the territory. Maybe success has made it worse, but that doesn't mean any other coach is different, and it doesn't mean that Carroll is generally doing it wrong. I could care less how Urban Meyer does it. I could care less how that clown in South Bend does it. Their way works for them...good for them!
Another way that this shows up is people arguing that Carroll hasn't been able to win a national championship without Norm Chow, and that Carroll's insistence on bringing along Sarkisian and Kiffin has meant that SC has become both predictable with playcalling and inconsistent on results. It might be that Chow is the missing link on a team that's always there for defense but not quite as hot on offense... but Chow didn't set the NFL on fire at Tennessee, and he's having a hell of a time igniting the offense at UCLA, a team that's recruiting good players and has a stout defense (sound familiar?). Even current members of the USC fan base who have a national voice can't get over the loss of Chow. But at best we'd be talking about Chow making the difference on a handful of games - maybe. These are still college kids we're talking about here.
All of this is like a gift to our rival fan base (among others). Certain little Gutties hate Pete Carroll with a passion, so much that they write about him incessantly, looking for anything that will mock or chide his style at the same time that their coach does everything to emulate him.
So for all of this, why would any kid want to play for Pete Carroll at USC? Are they all deluded too?
No. Here are the things that are still true about Pete Carroll and the teams he fields at USC:
- Pete Carroll still puts a great product on the field, in terms of talent
- USC still plays in big games, and wins out of conference. People may say that SC only wins because OOC teams don't know their tendencies, last time I checked they have film rooms in Columbus, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, etc.
- USC is in the mix every year. Do the preseason rankings match the quality of the teams every year? Probably they are over-optimistic, but not by a big difference
- SC still gets good recruits, despite being loaded at some positions
- SC has been dominating the conference
- SC puts players in the NFL
These are all things that players care about, and results that fans should care about. They aren't small, and I'm going to focus on two: conference play and players getting drafted.
For all the talk about individual teams beating SC, only two have consistently been in the mix as challengers, Oregon and Cal. Oregon State may have SC's number but they fell apart last year, and once isn't enough. If Pete Carroll sucks so much, how come SC has won or split the conference championship seven years in a row? Cal was supposed to be on the rise after they beat SC in 2003, and even with a fantastic coach like Tedford this is the first year they can really start to think about Pasadena in January. Oregon's run for the Roses turned out to be dependent on Dennis Dixon's ACL, which was good luck in recruiting that turned to bad luck with an injury. If Pete Carroll sucks, how come people have complained that SC was making the rest of the conference look bad for seven years? Hint: it's not because the other teams had no talent and no coaches.
As for players getting drafted: any kids looking to play at a big-time program have a dream about playing in the NFL - that's the gold standard. And players know that playing in a high-visibility, high-winning percentage team gives them a good chance to get there. So far, when players don't go to SC, it's not because they think that playing there will prevent them from making it to the next level or because they think that Carroll is some kind of delusional control freak.
The loss to UW certainly pissed me off and disappointed me in many ways. I have some questions and concerns, and while my voice means nothing in Heritage Hall, I'm not going to turn on a dime and against the coach. I will take it over what I have seen the last few years in the rest of the conference...always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Is it frustrating to see us not go to national championship games? Sure, but flawed or not, we have the system we have and everyone knows you need to be just about goddamn perfect to get there. Do I care about rivals getting all excited? No, win something then you can gloat.
What I do care about is when members of the traditional media like the insufferable Matt Hayes make comments about Pete Carroll criticizing the play Aaron Corp like he did this week. I find it comical that the press wants the truth but when the truth is put forth the person telling the truth is roudly criticized for what they say. I mean did Hayes watch the same game we did? Corp was terrible and Pete Carroll did nothing more than confirm what we all saw...with facts.
Pete Carroll could be his own worst enemy but so far he hasn't self destructed. Maybe he will at some point...who knows, but until that day I will continue to support him and his accomplishments. I'm not turning on a dime because of one game this season or the other seasons. Those who see it different are more than welcome to walk the path that they choose.