And no it is not the NCAA investigation...
One of the things that people seem to miss in Pete Carroll's pending move to Seattle is also the most obvious...age.
Pete Carroll is 59-years old.
When he goes to the NFL he will be the third oldest coach behind Wade Phillips and Tom Caughlin. So with the NFL's current push towards a youth movement this is Pete Carroll's last best chance to deal with some unfinished business in the NFL.
Whether or not you think this is a good idea or whether or not you think he will do a good job, the fact remains that this is the last hurdle he wants to conquer in his career. I have a hard time reading or hearing that Carroll is making a mistake...
A mistake? Really?
Does anyone think that they would like it if anyone criticized their move to go to the next level?
You have to walk a few miles in a mans shoes before you can criticize him...and that is pretty hard to do.
When I changed jobs three years ago after being with the same company for 17 years the phone calls and emails I got from people trying to get me to change my mind were staggering. Many people who I considered friends turned on me...they wanted nothing to do with me because I went to a competitor. I turned down a similar opportunity a couple of years earlier so I knew when the opportunity came around again I had to take it...you only get a couple of shots at your own personal brass ring...
For me, it was time!
The fact is that move for me three years ago was a step up AND a rebuilding project. In my business if you are successful in one of the major markets like NYC you have hit the big time, that is a very small fraternity to be in...and it has worked out pretty good for me so far!
Pete Carroll is looking through the same looking glass, albeit at a much more high profile level.
Pete Carroll has been at USC for 9 years. He has brought a program that had floundered for 15+ years back to national prominence. The exposure, titles, awards and top recruiting classes that we all witnessed are all because of Pete Carroll.
But with all that comes a price.
As much as we all marveled at how Pete Carroll identified and meshed with his players the fact is his players were still kids and kids sometimes make poor choices. I am not talking about issues with the law and such...once the facts are in in regards to a legal matter a coach can simply kick a player off the team if the results are deemed to be negative. But with the draconian rules of the NCAA it makes it harder for a coach like Pete Carroll to monitor his players and players parents activities when it comes to players potentially taking extra benefits.
At a school like USC it is not uncommon to see many students driving high priced vehicles. Would anyone have given it a second thought if we saw a white kid driving a Range Rover? The reason it was a big deal with McKnight was because he was a black kid from the south who grew up with very little on the fringe of poverty whose story everyone knew...his driving the car of course would immediately draw questions...those questions are warranted.
That is why the rules are there.
As for Bush and his family I still contend that it is virtually impossible for the school to monitor the living arrangements of all of their athletes. I still believe in privacy...even if a family member is breaking the rules. It is a slippery slope when when we start following our players around to see who or their family is hanging out with. This is not Oral Roberts University where at one time they did follow the kids around when they went off campus.
It is clear that Pete Carroll simply got tired of having to worry about all the rules off the field when he was trying to get the team to focus on the rules on the field. If we are to believe the stories that the higher ups started making decisions without consulting Carroll the it was just a matter of time. I can't comment on the behind the scenes issues that PC may have had with Mike Garrett but it really should not surprise anyone. Garrett is an opportunist and when he lucked out in hiring Carroll after everyone else turned him down you knew when Pete got successful that Garrett was going to ride the wave of popularity.
Unfortunately there is not enough room in Heritage Hall for two egos of that magnitude.
I find it ironic that some of the issues that Pete Carroll went through are not dissimilar to some of the same issues that the University of Miami went through when they went on their run. Sure, we saw some of these types of things pop up at Oklahoma and Alabama but those two places are not like L.A. or Miami. There is a lot more money and a lot more star power in those two cities that are able to corrupt impressionable kids. I find it Ironic that SC attracted the hip-hop culture of Snoop Dogg just like the 'Caines attracted Luther Campbell.
Another thing that I find Ironic is that all of the major scandals that we have read about over the years have happened at the TOP programs in the sport. Oh sure, there are a few scandals here or there at some of the lesser schools but the big ones always come from the Major programs.
Of course the obvious question is then why don't we hear about these sorts of issues at ucla? They are in L.A. too right?
Well, ucla is NOT a major program...they are a regional program.They may recruit from the same pool of talent that SC does, but they have seldom got the same type of players that USC has over the years to make them a national power.
Maybe policing kids works for lesser programs, but come on, at places like South Bend, Columbus, Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Norman, Austin, Tallahassee, Gainsville or Tuscaloosa with all those boosters and community involvement it can be tough for impressionable young men to say no...especially if they come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
L.A. and Miami are a cut above that when to comes to college football simply because of their location and the trappings that surround the cities itself.
Pete Carroll saw the landscape and said its time.
Pete Carroll really couldn't accomplish much more than he already has. Yes, he had a chance to rack up a couple of more titles but the system is as much to blame as is PC in not getting it done on the field. I get it that there may be some people that are a lot more knowledgeable about CFB that I am. I get it that there are those that went to SC and saw a lot more games than I did during this run...but many of those people were not around for the bad years of the 80's and 90's. I may not have seen it first hand because I was out on the east coast but my dad would piss and moan all the time to me at the sub-par efforts of Tolner, Smith and JRob II. And don't get me started on Hackett!
I said it yesterday and I will say it again...
PETE CARROLL OWES US NOTHING!
I also said it before Plaschke wrote it yesterday but it is dead on. Pete Carroll paid us back more than we could ever imagine. I am happy for him if this is truly what he wants. He has that itch that he needs to scratch at the next level. We should champion and support him. We should shake his hand, slap him on the back and say thank you for all that he gave us.
One quick note on the haters from up north and across town. I laughed when I read that some were calling Pete Carroll Cowardly. I would quite simply say...pot meet kettle, look in the mirror, you know who you are.
This is the best chance they will ever have to stake their own claim in the Pac-10. They can say what they want but remember one thing...they have no excuses now. Big Bad Pete Carroll is gone, now is their chance...so show us what ya' got!
BTW...that THUD you heard was 25,000 people jumping off the USC bandwagon...