When he wasn't busy holding a kick for Will Ferrell, Pete Carroll spent some of his time on USC's campus Wednesday—his first visit since leaving to coach the Seattle Seahawks in 2010—attacking the NCAA for the draconian sanctions it levied on his former program.
Per Rich Hammond of The Orange County Register:
Carroll: "I thought it was dealt with poorly, and very irrationally, and done with way too much emotion instead of facts."— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) February 27, 2014
Carroll: "I listened to the venom they had for our program. They didn’t understand a thing about what we were all about."— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) February 27, 2014
Carroll: "They [NCAA] tried to make it out like it was something else. They made a terrible error."— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) February 27, 2014
After determining that running back Reggie Bush and basketball star O.J. Mayo had received impermissible benefits (among other, smaller offenses), the NCAA imposed a two-year bowl ban, four years of probation and a loss of 30 scholarships on the football program at USC in June 2010.
Carroll, who was the wildly successful Trojans head coach at the time of the transgressions, fled for the NFL before the sanctions took place and won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2014. USC won two AP national championships and made seven BCS games with Carroll at the helm between 2001 and 2009.
According to ESPN.com, Carroll said people outside the USC athletic department were responsible for the impermissible benefits, but the NCAA had deaf ears when he and others tried explaining that side of the story:
Carroll said people outside the athletic department were to blame for USC's issues and criticized the NCAA for punishing a school for actions taken by "people that have nothing to do with the university."
He also said the NCAA didn't want to listen to USC's side of the story before issuing a decision.
Lane Kiffin left Tennessee to replace Carroll in 2010 and did his best to weather the storm of the sanctions for three-and-a-half seasons—especially on the recruiting trail.
However, that relative success attracting talent did not properly translate to the field, and Kiffin was unceremoniously fired by athletic director Pat Haden in the wee hours of the morning at LAX after losing to Arizona State, 62-41, in September of last year.
Now Steve Sarkisian—another former assistant of Carroll's at USC, just like Kiffin—takes over the job of head coach, and he has only a few months of sanctions left to deal with. The program can finally look ahead to building its future in the mold of Carroll's past.
But what's happened the past three seasons, unlike Bush's Heisman Trophy and the vacated national championship, cannot be stricken permanently from the record.
Follow Brian Leigh: @BLeighDAT