Carroll having his say in Seahawks' GM hunt, calls it 'a real positive'

100114carroll450Pete Carroll kept saying upon his arrival from USC this week that he “couldn’t wait to get started” rebuilding the Seattle Seahawks.

He didn’t have to.

The Seahawks’ new coach barely had time to take a breath from his excited hello to the city, barely finished kissing his wife in the back of an auditorium, before he started the team’s next search — for a general manager.
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Carroll joined Seahawks chief executive officer Tod Leiweke on Tuesday afternoon in interviewing Omar Khan, a contract administrator with the Pittsburgh Steelers. By evening, Green Bay Packers executive John Schneider was in town. New York Giants college scouting director Marc Ross and former Tennessee Titans GM Floyd Reese were up next in the fast-paced auditions that the Seahawks finished Thursday night.

However, the Seahawks have narrowed their search to two finalists, one of whom is Reese, a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora. Of the four candidates, Reese is the only one with ties to Carroll, who coached with him on the Minnesota Vikings’ staff from 1985 to 1989.

A source also told La Canfora that Reese has had contact with Seahawks owner Paul Allen, and the other candidates believe he will land the job.

Picking a coach and then choosing a GM to conform to him is unusual in the NFL. It’s power that Carroll believed he’d never have in the league after the New England Patriots fired him as coach following the 1999 season.

“Yeah, I think there’s a real positive in it. I get to be involved in it,” said Carroll, who also has the title of executive vice president. “I like it a lot, as a matter of fact.”

Leiweke said it wasn’t necessarily going to be that way, until the Seahawks learned last week that such authority is what it would take to pry Carroll from USC.

Leiweke said there will be three doors atop football operations: “a cap/contract door” for money and number crunching, a job returning vice president for football administration John Idzik is poised to handle; a GM door; “and Pete will have his own, unique door.”

Leiweke’s job will be to ensure collaboration between the three positions.

The lack of a singular authority in football matters is something the Seahawks haven’t had since before Mike Holmgren arrived as a Super Bowl champion from the Green Bay Packers to become the coach and general manager in 1999.

“The cool thing is, we are getting an outstanding coach as the centerpiece,” Leiweke said of Carroll. “And we are going to build around that.”

The Seahawks have promised Carroll that he will be “shoulder to shoulder” with the new GM. Carroll has a say on each GM candidate interviewed and, depending on the candidate, might have final word on who lands the job.

La Canfora reported Thursday that Carroll remains interested in close friend and former NFL personnel executive Pat Kirwan to be a part of the organization. However, sources said the analyst wouldn’t be in a top personnel role. Instead, he would be an assistant to the head coach should he come to Seattle.

Leiweke fired coach Jim Mora last Friday after a single season in which the Seahawks finished 5-11. The move left the franchise without a coach, GM or president less than four years after it was in the Super Bowl.

Even though Leiweke had said last month that he expected Mora to return, the coach said he began wondering when he didn’t hear from his boss for four days last week. Leiweke had flown to California to meet with Carroll and see if the man who restored a dynasty at USC wanted to coach and have executive privileges with the Seahawks.

“I do owe Jim Mora an apology,” Leiweke said. “Jim and I are friends — we climbed Mount Rainier together last summer — and we are going to remain friends. But the fact of the matter is, we’ve won nine games in the last two years, and with all due respect, four of those wins have been against the St. Louis Rams. Something had to change in a substantial way.”

Leiweke said after the Seahawks lost their last four games under Mora by a combined 123-37 that he had a “lack of hope” for the first time since he joined the team in 2003, as Allen’s top deputy. Allen, the Microsoft Corp. tycoon and native of suburban Seattle, bought the Seahawks in 1997 and was at team headquarters Tuesday to welcome Carroll.

“Paul Allen, especially with what he’s gone through, deserves hope,” Leiweke said. “He’s currently battling cancer (lymphoma, for which he has been having chemotherapy), and that added a little bit of drama in my mind. The last two years have broken our hearts.”

Carroll knows the stakes — and embraces them.

“I know that Paul Allen wants to win, and he doesn’t want to just win once in a while. He wants to win from now on,” Carroll said. “To me, that fits exactly with the way I think, and the way I’ve tried to present our football in recent years.

“It’s hard to imagine that the standards could be set so high, where you’re only judged by perfection. I have embraced that thought.”