This is a great day for 90% of the Pac-10.
Pete Carroll is about to ruin his career.
I’ve never understood it. Why do people get tired of being great at something? Why do singers want to be actors and actors want to be singers?
Coaches always talk about wanting a new challenge. You know what’s a challenge? Winning nine Pac-10 games in one year. Winning thirteen straight college football games. Doing it again the following year.
In Carroll’s case people are going to point to the ongoing NCAA investigation. But it’s not like USC is going to get the death penalty. Even with few lost scholarships and some vacated wins Pete Carroll would still land all the top recruits. He would still win most of the Pac-10 titles and remain the king of L.A. football.
Is Bear Bryant considered a wuss because he never coached in the NFL? Why didn’t that John Wooden guy “move up” to the NBA? Becoming a legend is a challenge. Remaining a legend is an even bigger challenge.
The NFL is a completely different animal. Coaches rule in college. Players rule in the pros. Did Bill Belichick become a radically different coach in the time between his stint as a losing coach in Cleveland and his run to three Super Bowls in New England? No, he just went from Vinny Testaverde to Tom Brady.
Did Mike Ditka forget how to coach on his way from the Bears to the Saints? No, he just traded Walter Payton and Jim McMahon for Ricky Williams and two guys named Billy Joe.
In the NFL a superior coach can swing an individual game here or there. But if you’re going to win consistently you need the horses. And when it comes to horses, in college you’re the trainer. In the pros you’re just the jockey.
Carroll supporters will rally around the Jimmy Johnson model. Pete will be heavily involved in personnel decisions just like Jimmy. Paul Allen has more money than Jerry Jones. But the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys were the result of a perfect storm. The Seahawks don’t have Herschel Walker as trade bait. They don’t have the #1 pick in the draft with a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback sitting there. They aren’t building without a salary cap. A man named Moose isn’t involved.
As the head coach at USC you get Parade All-Americans to come backup other Parade All-Americans. In the NFL other teams trade in front of you in the draft or sign away your veterans in free agency.
It’s not a matter of if Pete Carroll will fail in the NFL. It’s a question of which college program will get the next Nick Saban in a few years.
So what does this mean for the Arizona Wildcats?
USC will get another good coach. But it’s not a guarantee they land an elite coach. And even if their next guy is another superstar there’s going to be a couple-year window before he gets up to ramming speed.
Can Mike Stoops and the Wildcats pounce? Can they steal a recruit or two from SC’s current class, a la Sean Miller? Can the UA get enough of a head start with future recruits that the next Kris O’Dowd or Everson Griffen stays in-state? Can we break through to the top of a Carroll-less Pac-10?
I’m not proud. Winning the Pac by beating a weakened USC would be no less sweet than toppling Pete Carroll at the height of his power. After we’ve banked a couple titles we can worry about style points.
I’m not ready to say Mike Stoops has to win the Pac-10 in the next two years or he’s a failure, but a major excuse has been removed. After missing out on opportunities in 2009 it sure would be nice to take advantage of this pleasant turn of events.
This is a great day for the Cats and the other eight teams who have been breathing USC’s exhaust for the past decade. I am grateful for whatever it was that finally pushed Carroll back into the NFL. Ego? Impending sanctions? Mountains of Microsoft money? I thank you all.
But most of all I thank you, Pete. Thanks for no longer being interested in dominating college football. I wish I could wish you a long and successful career but it’s hard to argue with history.
See you again soon.