NCAA sanctions that cast a cloud over Pete Carroll’s wildly successful nine-year run with the Trojans, the former USC coach and new Seattle Seahawks Coach is taking it upon himself to protect the legacy of his program.
“It’s been most difficult to watch everybody have to deal with it, whether it’s the players or the coaches or the fans who support the university,” Carroll told The Associated Press shortly after arriving in New York for the start of a two-week promotional tour for his new book, “Win Forever.”
“I do feel responsible being connected with it,” Carroll said of USC’s troubles. “I’ve also felt a responsibility, with the way it’s come down, to work to try to get the message out there and defend somewhat.”
Carroll left USC after last season to take over as coach of the Seattle Seahawks. During his time with the Trojans, he went 97-19 with two national championships.
Last month, USC received a two-year postseason ban, a loss of scholarships and was forced to vacate victories from the 2004 and ’05 seasons for NCAA violations involving former star tailback Reggie Bush. The university is appealing some of the penalties.
“I’m very proud of those years,” Carroll said. “Very proud of all that we did.”
Carroll started at USC in 2001 and by his second season the Trojans were among the best teams in the nation. His teams contended for national titles almost every year and only a late touchdown by Texas’ Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl kept the Trojans from winning three straight national championships.
But the NCAA sanctions could lead to USC’s 2004 BCS title being vacated along with Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy. One of the great runs in recent college football history now has been tarnished in the eyes of many fans and followers.
“There’s nothing I can do about that now. The games were won. The challenges and accomplishments are all in the books. We stand behind all those efforts,” Carroll said.
Carroll himself was not accused of wrongdoing by the NCAA and he has said he felt the penalties against USC were overly harsh.
“We spent so much time working to do things better than it’s ever been done before in all of our ways,” Carroll said. “Not just in coaching and in the Xs and Os part of it, but in recruiting and evaluating and dealing with the image we projected.
“I’m really happy to be out talking about the issues and the book gives me a great opportunity to bring back the principles so people can understand better what we’re all about.”
Carroll said the book — which is essentially his playbook to a successful life — has been in the works for several years.
“The message is giving the reader a chance to connect with their potential and then also trying to take them where they can learn how to perform,” Carroll said. “That is part of everything we do in football. We have to figure out how good we can be and then we have to try to get there.
“Hopefully, people from all different walks will be able to take something from that.”
After the book tour ends, it’ll be time for Carroll’s first training camp with Seattle — his first in the NFL since being fired by the Patriots after three years as head coach in New England.
Carroll went 27-21 with two playoff appearances with the Patriots and was 6-10 in his one season as New York Jets coach.
“I’ve said in the book, on both occasions, whether it was in New York or New England, I just wasn’t as ready as I am now [for the NFL],” he said. “I can just tell. I wasn’t as prepared. I wasn’t as organized.
“I feel as ready as I can possibly be.”