Pete Carroll Wants To Make It Reign In Seattle Again
By Corbin Smith
When the Seattle Seahawks decided to cut ties with former coach Jim Mora after one season and replaced him with then-USC head coach Pete Carroll before the 2010 season, the move was met with great skepticism. After all, Carroll had previously failed to find success with two prior NFL head coaching gigs, and he was seen as nothing more than a great college football coach whose style didn't mesh at the professional level. He also had been under fire regarding NCAA violations that eventually led to a two year bowl ban and loss of scholarships for the Trojans. It simply didn't appear to be a smart hire at the time.
Four years later, that perception no longer fits reality, and Carroll deserves to be in the discussion as one of the best football minds of his era. After leading the Seattle to its first ever Super Bowl title this past February, the energetic Carroll has now won at least one championship at both the college and professional level, which puts him in rare company alongside ex-Cowboys coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. He's been a winner at every level of the game and never wavered from his philosophies during the process. If his coaching prowess was ever in doubt, his successful run revamping the Seahawks into a defensive juggernaut has silenced critics once and for all.
Since taking the reins in 2010, the 62-year-old Carroll has gone 38-26 overall and won five of seven playoff games with Seattle. Many questioned his ability to handle an NFL locker room after failing to win with the New England Patriots and New York Jets in earlier coaching stops, but the Seahawks offered him more roster control and he has been able to bring in players who fit his system perfectly. In the end, his charismatic style has won over his players and his contributions both on and off the field have made him beloved by the city of Seattle. A deal that once looked like a mistake in the eyes of many experts now looks to be one of the smartest moves in NFL history, and ownership realized how critical it was to keep him for the foreseeable future.
As a reward for Carroll's outstanding work with the Seahawks, the organization gave him a much-deserved three year extension on Friday that should make him one of the top three paid coaches in the league. He was entering the final year of the five year, $35 million dollar contract he signed in 2010, and the franchise didn't want to wait until the deal expired before providing an extension. With Carroll now locked up through 2016, the Seahawks head coach isn't ready to rest after taking home the Lombardi Trophy this past season.
"We don't want to just get a ring. There's a lot more to be done," Carroll said, "It was a wonderful accomplishment and all, but there's so much more ahead of us. To do something really unique and special, it takes some time."
Carroll hinted that his team is "in the the middle of special opportunity" and he believes in the program that he and general manager John Schneider have built can be sustained for long-term success. The roster remains choked full of young talent, and the franchise plans to keep core players from last year's championship team such as Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman for the long haul. Free agency has cost the team several key contributors, but the tandem of Carroll and Schneider will continue to take calculated risks in the draft as a means of replacing these departed players. Based on their success to this point, fans should be optimistic that more greatness is yet to come.
Competition will continue to be the driving force for this Seahawks franchise as it moves forward defending its title. Everyone will enter off-season workouts fighting for their jobs, and that's exactly how Carroll wants it. If you don't stay hungry, you'll eventually find yourself either on the bench or on the market looking for a new team. With a new contract in hand, Carroll is motivated to show the rest of the league that last year wasn't a fluke and he's embracing the challenge of trying to win another Super Bowl.
"One time's cool and we're excited and all that," Carroll commented about winning the Super Bowl, "But to come back and figure out a way to show that you can do it again is another tremendous challenge that we're faced with now.
Carroll understands what it will take to make it happen. His team must move on from what happened in the past and focus on what needs to be done next by putting together an outstanding off-season. New players acquired during free agency and through the draft will need to step in and prove themselves as capable replacements for departed veterans like Golden Tate and Chris Clemons. Championship teams have a target on their backs and it takes a special "commitment and consistency" to stay on top. Players, coaches, and staff can't afford to have a letdown, and don't expect Carroll to allow that to happen. He's shown since he arrived in the Pacific Northwest four years ago that he has an uncanny ability to develop players into contributors in his system, and that starts with off-season workouts.
When Carroll came to Seattle, most people thought it would only be a matter of time before another NFL failure would send him back to college. Now, he has built a potential dynasty and believes he and his players still have much left to prove. The organization kept faith in him early when the team struggled to 7-9 finishes his first two years and he rewarded them for their patience by assembling one of the finest rosters the league has seen in the past 30 years. Now he wants to make history by winning not just one championship, but pursuing multiple titles.
Even as the league's second oldest coach, Carroll still has much to accomplish before calling it a career. One ring is simply not enough.