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Pete Carroll's Success With Seattle Seahawks Hardly Surprising

Will Robinson |
December 10, 2012 | 10:23 a.m. PST

Senior Sports Editor

Carroll's NFL success did not come out of nowhere. (Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons)
Carroll's NFL success did not come out of nowhere. (Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons)
The last time a Pete Carroll-coached team won by over 50 points in a shutout, Mark Sanchez and his USC Trojans dispatched the Washington Huskies in the Coliseum over four years ago.

It happened again yesterday, as the Seattle Seahawks annihilated the Arizona Cardinals 58-0 in a game rife with playoff implications.

The latter feat is obviously all the more impressive considering how the players in the game were paid professionals, not fresh-faced sophomores and juniors.

And in this performance, Carroll’s squad asserted itself to the public not just as a legitimate contender to steal the NFC West title from San Francisco, but as one to earn the NFC nod to represent the conference in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.

"It's a reward for all of the hard work. You work so hard and so often, the games don't afford you that opportunity," Carroll said after the astonishing performance. "For everybody to play, everybody to contribute, so many guys can get on the stats sheets and all that stuff, and contribute. It's really very positive."

It took two down years, but Carroll has created the roots of a second dynastic team under his power.

And that shouldn’t be particularly surprising.

Now, it is too early to claim or foretell the Seahawks’ ruling the next decade a certainty. But with its stellar play this season – with a difficult schedule – Seattle is scary and young and has the potential to remain competitive over many years.

Saying some skeptics existed when Carroll jumped from the City of Angels to the Emerald one is an understatement. After a shaky tenure with the New England Patriots, his NFL credentials were poor.

But a similar reaction occurred when Carroll came to Southland.

Upon his firing from the Pats, Carroll refrained from coaching for a year before taking the USC job. The Trojan faithful endured the Dark Ages (also known as the “Paul Hackett Era”) after John Robinson’s second tenure in the mid-90s. Troy was in its worse shape since they had allowed a giant wooden horse through its gates.

Former athletic director Mike Garrett sought a big-time coach with recent college experience, which Carroll lacked.

After his top-three candidates declined, Garrett and USC settled on Carroll, displeasing fans.

After a tumultuous three-year ride with Hackett, the USC brass settled on a coach with a 33-31 record in the NFL.

All Garrett settled on was the best college team and coach of the 2000s.

With staunch defense and a dynamic running attack, Carroll’s USC teams ruled the country, featuring two or fewer losses in seven of his nine seasons.

That’s exactly what Carroll transported up the Pacific coast to Seattle.

Carroll’s first two seasons were 7-9 years, vastly different from one another. In the first, Seattle sneaked into the playoffs and upset the defending champion Saints with “Beast Mode.” The second was an uneventful losing season.

Per Football Outsiders, before the Arizona slaughter, the Seahawks were fourth in FO’s metric DVOA, ranking fifth, sixth and third in offense, defense and special teams, respectively.

Carroll’s defensive prowess was never questioned. The concern with Pete’s coaching philosophy was the oft-described “rah-rah” method in trying to reach college athletes compared to professional ones.

Clearly, that’s been a detriment.

Despite Carroll’s NFL head coaching pedigree before the Seattle gig, why did his nine years at USC not factor in to how he would succeed at a premiere position?

Yes, for every Jim Harbaugh, there are many more Butch Davises, Dave Wannstedts, Nick Sabans and Steve Spurriers – none of whom had the consistent collegiate success Carroll did pre-NFL.

Carroll was pigeonholed as solely an NFL burnout early into his head-coaching career with little chance to succeed.

But few allowed themselves to believe that he could refine his craft between gigs – not just between NFL jobs, but also between the Patriots and USC one. Why did skepticism exist?

Sure, as King details, history was against Carroll. But once Carroll first performed poorly in the NFL, that’s who he was.

In that case, Bill Belichick should never have been hired after his Cleveland stint.

To assume a successful coach remains steadfast in their ways, wary of change – especially Carroll – is ignorant. Sure, some leading men don’t listen to anyone but themselves. But count Carroll out of that group. To avoid innovation is to welcome failure.

So, sitting at 8-5 should be no surprise for Carroll’s crew.

It certainly isn’t for him.

Reach Senior Sports Editor Will Robinson here. Follow him here.



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