|USC Legends News|
Carroll swears there's no place like USC
Dream on? That's Carroll's response to those speculating he'll someday return to the NFL.
"Please don't leave," a USC fan pleaded at the New Song Community Church. "Don't go."
The charismatic Carroll chuckled.
"I'm not going anywhere,'' he said. "There is nothing better than being at USC."
Believe Carroll at your own risk. Whenever I hear a coach say something along those lines, I check to see if their nose grows.
For the record, Carroll's didn't go Jimmy Durante.
Then I remember other successful coaches, those swearing the job they had was swell.
Nick Saban tells a boldface lie and bolts the Dolphins for Alabama. Or Florida's Billy Donovan says see ya later, Gators, and lands in Orlando. Then in a flash, he's back at Florida.
The lesson? Every coach loves a challenge.
And why wouldn't the ultra-competitive Carroll like to prove his act plays on the sport's biggest stage?
"I'm not going anywhere,'' Carroll repeated.
So why did he entertain Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga while vacationing in Costa Rica this offseason?
"I said for years that there wasn't even the right structure that would attract me,'' Carroll said. "But they had a structure, in the past, to be the head coach, general manager -- the whole thing, to call all the shots."
Carroll's previous NFL rounds, to some, were bottoms up. He went 6-10 with the Jets in 1994, then at New England, 27-21 from 1997-99. He made the playoffs twice, going 1-2.
A failure? His 33-31 regular-season mark makes one eye Charger coach Norv Turner's showing in a different light: 58-82-1.
But the Chargers declined kicking Carroll's tires after disposing of Marty Schottenheimer. And as long as power-hungry general manager A.J. Smith is in charge, what's the point?
"I think it's a tremendous organization, it's in California -- all that kind of stuff has a great aspect to it,'' Carroll said. "But it never came to that.
"But I had a great respect for the people and what they are doing. Man, do they have a good team. I saw them against the Patriots and they are a loaded football team.
"I think it's great for Norv, a great chance to put together a fantastic run with these young kids and I wish them the best."
Did the Chargers get the best in Turner?
"I think he will do great," Carroll predicted. "Norv is hitting the organization at the right time."
Carroll is a smash wherever he goes -- save Westwood. The energy and enthusiasm jump off him like millions have jumped on the USC bandwagon.
Everyone loves a winner, and no one has won like Carroll since taking over at USC in 2001: two national championships and at 65-12 (84.4 percent), the best winning percentage of any Division I coach with at least five years.
That said, he enters next season's Pac-10 schedule with a one-game conference losing streak.
Anyone remember UCLA's 12-7 conquest, denying the Trojans a BCS Championship Game berth?
"It's really disappointing when you lose to the cross-town team right at the time that we did," said Carroll, his electric smile finally dimmed. "We played a miserable football game right when we needed to play one more good one. We had a great season, a great run and we needed one more day of work to get to the next game.
"You have to give (UCLA) credit for that and unfortunately we weren't right -- I take all the responsibility for that."
But such downer talk wasn't the topic du jour. Not with Carroll scribbling autographs, the USC marching band playing "Tusk" and a song leader waving her pom-poms.
This was the Pete Carroll Show, and he was raising money for the San Luis Rey Trojans of the American Youth Football program.
Now, about staying at that college program in South Central L.A.
"You're a Bruin for four years,'' said ex-USC and Chargers wide receiver Tim Ware. "But you are a Trojan for life."
For the life of me, I can't see Carroll staying Tommy Trojan forever.
"This is different, this is unique," Carroll argued. "Here we have a chance to win for a long, long time and to me that is one of the great challenges of sports."
Ditto proving you can coach at the highest level. Someday, an NFL owner will offer a package Carroll can't refuse.
Don't think so? Dream on.
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