Why This Irish Fan Is Happy and Sad Pete Carroll Left USC

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Why This Irish Fan Is Happy and Sad Pete Carroll Left USC

I was shocked to hear the news that Pete Carroll was resigning from his post as head coach at USC in order to jump back into the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

Literally overnight, one of college football's most dominant dynasties in history entered the beginning of its end.

As a Notre Dame fan, this makes me jump for joy, but also hang my head in sadness.

Why experience both feelings?

It's because I have been waiting for USC to crumble and no longer beat up on the Fighting Irish, but on the other hand, I wanted Notre Dame to be able to beat the Carroll-led Trojans while they were masters of the college universe.

If Notre Dame fans like me are having a plethora of mixed emotions about this continuing saga, I can't imagine what USC fans are thinking.

Deep down inside though, my happiness over Carroll leaving outweighs my sadness.

Sure, USC is Notre Dame's biggest rival and I have respect for the Trojan program and history (did I mention the Irish haven't beaten USC since 2001?), but I don't like Carroll or 99 percent of the players he has recruited and led on to the field each Saturday.

What cannot be hidden is the fact that USC under Pete Carroll turned into a slightly less abusive, less menacing, less confrontational, and less fraudulent version of the 1980s and early '90s Miami Hurricanes.

The key word in that sentence is slightly, which should be defined more clearly whenever the NCAA finally comes out with its evidence and report on the Trojan football program and its alleged infractions.

USC supporters may claim that nothing has been proven yet and that the school and coaching staff knew nothing of the alleged infractions caused by Reggie Bush and others. Maybe so, but that's not really the point, as far as I'm concerned.

My problem with the USC program stems largely from the culture that Carroll created and nurtured over the past decade.

Mainly, turning the football team into a Hollywood attention-loving, rock star persona-having, and over-the-top confidence-possessing program that showed not even the faintest sign of taking academics even remotely seriously.

Maybe it's just the team being a product of their geography, but when you have a program that acts like a traveling rock show, it only heightens the alleged problems that Carroll and USC have been accused of.

Just look at the school's most visible stars from the recent past: Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

Leinart seemed to live the life of a spoiled fraternity member, enrolling in joke-level classes and partying left and right.

Bush has always seemed more down-to-earth and somewhat of a decent guy, but the allegations against him are just about as serious as you can get in the world of the NCAA.

I just can't imagine that many of the football players under Carroll were really students in Pasadena. The way the team handles itself, the allegations, the ultra-high level of winning...it's all a giant arrow pointing to cheating on a pretty significant level.

Notre Dame fans are supposed to "hate" USC, but do it with a level of respect and admiration. Now, it's become a different form of hate and it should not surprise USC fans when the rest of the world is claiming their program is dirty, and Irish supporters are the first to rally behind the accusers.

There may be a handful of reasons why Carroll left for the NFL, but I can't imagine his own supporters are too happy with him jumping ship with NCAA sanctions looming on the horizon.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised by his resignation from USC because I've always looked at Carroll as a Bill Clinton-type of character. Besides their obvious similar physical features, Carroll has reminded me of "Slick Willy" in that he was tremendously successful at what he did, had an aura of "hipness" about him, and always had a smile, a wink, and a joke for everyone.

But those attributes are shared with both men's sketchy behavior, back room deals, allegations of countless rules violations, and the like.

By skipping town and leaving a mess in his wake, Carroll deserves all the negative press that is possible, no matter how great of a coach he is or how outstanding his record was at USC.

It's as if he made a deal with the devil to sell his soul for glory at USC, but was able to wiggle his way out of the punishment and continue life in the NFL, and with a pay raise to boot.

Still, it makes me a bit sad to think of the ramifications that Carroll's exit and the hammer that is about to come down from the NCAA.

I'm not nearly sold that USC is going to fall off the face of the earth, far from it, but it is difficult to believe that without Carroll and with some form of probation, no matter how small, the Trojans will not be able to play at the high level they have since 2002.

They may find it difficult to hire a good coach at this time, but I would think USC will get someone who is, at the very least, competent enough to right the ship. If so, we can expect at least two or three more years of conference championship-level football out of USC.

Don't go writing obituaries just yet for the Men of Troy.

It's a bit of a bummer that there is the possibility that USC may slip back into its 1990s level of winning because Notre Dame needs the Trojans to be good and vice versa. I know USC hasn't been particularly elated that they've run over unranked and overmatched Irish teams the past decade.

With Notre Dame's two biggest rivals in Michigan and USC experiencing difficulties today, it makes you scratch your head and wonder how this will affect the future. And let's not forget Notre Dame has problems of its own, as well.

Ultimately, the saga unfolding in Southern California will probably be a positive one in relation to Notre Dame. USC will probably take a small step back in the immediate future, and that will open the door for newly hired head coach Brian Kelly to assert his dominance over the Trojans.

And if USC really falls on its face in the future, maybe we can be excited that this will potentially force Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick to schedule some marquee elite programs?

What we do know is that when these two teams meet at the end of next season, it sure will be an intriguing matchup between two new coaches.

Good luck in the NFL, Pete.

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