Wooden's impact reached across sports

In talking to Seattle Seahawks Matt Hasselbeck a few weeks ago for this story, the veteran Seahawk quarterback volunteered an interesting nugget of information on his new coach Pete Carroll.

“There’s only one person he quotes,” Hasselbeck said. “John Wooden.”

And when I went to Seattle to sit down with Carroll I found out why.

Wooden’s book provided a watershed moment, which I explained in Thursday’s story on Carroll, in the coach’s career after he’d been fired by the Patriots. The fact that the legendary UCLA coach (pictured to the left with Carroll, by the Palisadian Post’s Rich Schmitt) didn’t win a national title until his 16th year in Westwood inspired the twice-fired Carroll to evaluate himself and revived his resolve to make it as a head football coach.

“I closed the book and it hit me immediately that he had been a really successful coach before then, but once he got it all together and got it nailed, nobody could beat him,” Carroll said. “It just struck me, I don’t have my act together like I need to. And I knew if I had another opportunity, I wasn’t going to get another 16 years. I thought I’d already done this. I mean, I knew the importance of it. But then it hit me – Nah, I really don’t know.

“And so I went back to figure out precisely everything I could figure out about the work you have to do to be a head football coach.”

Ten years later, everything’s changed. Carroll was a two-time national champion at USC and arrived to much fanfare in Seattle.

Anyway, with Wooden’s passing the other day, I’m sure a lot of people have stories about the “Wizard”. Figured I’d share the most recent of mine.