A New Beginning: The Pete Carroll Era
Pete Carroll was announced as the eighth head coach for the Seattle Seahawks this morning, leaving a successful decade as head coach at USC where he won an astounding 97 games.
Now it would be ridiculous to assume Carroll will come in and win 100 games in 10 years at the helm of the Seahawks, but one thing is for certain: things will change in Seattle.
All ties to the former regime in command of the Seahawks have been severed as owner Paul Allen has taken a proactive approach in the management of his team. GM Tim Ruskell was told he would not be retained with four weeks remaining in the season and he subsequently resigned. Head Coach Jim Mora (the younger), who had been with the team as DB coach and assistant head coach prior to being named top dog last season, was fired late last week in a surprising move.
This brings us to the hiring of Carroll. No stranger to the NFL, he previously spent a total of four seasons as head coach of the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, compiling a 33-31 record. He also has numerous seasons as a defensive coordinator under his belt prior to his stint at USC.
The intriguing aspect of this hire is the fact the Seahawks have yet to replace Ruskell at GM, leading many to speculate that Carroll will have a lot of power when it comes to personnel decisions and the draft process. This is interesting since Carroll has been out of the league and such power is usually reserved for well-established football guru coaches (Mike Holmgren, Bill Belichick, and Mike Shanahan come to mind). Prime candidates for the position have pulled their names from consideration in fear of working under Carroll and merely being seen as a puppet in the franchise.
I have become more and more comfortable with the idea of Carroll as the head coach; he ran a pro-style offense and defense at USC and spawned one of the most successful decades in college football history, yielding three Heisman trophy winners, two national titles and a trip to a third title game, not to mention several dozen NFL players.
I do, however, have a problem with him bringing in all college coaches for his staff. While it's not uncommon for new coaches to bring in people they've previously worked with, they are typically NFL coaches. Carroll is bringing Jeremy Bate his OC at USC, DeWayne Walker, who was an HC at New Mexico St. and will be the new DC, Ken Norton, Jr., LB coach at USC, and Brian Schneider, an STC with him to the Seahawks' staff.
While USC has been handed the nickname "the 33rd NFL team" the last decade, it is hard to say with a straight face that these coaches are all ready for the big show. Preparing to face the Cardinals aerial attack or the physical ground game of the 49ers in the NFC West is very different from prepping for Washington State or Cal in the Pac-10.
If Carroll constantly has to hold the hands of his coordinators in gameplanning, he will be distracted from player evaluations and draft preparation, if those are indeed among his duties. If he is going to have Front Office duties and powers, then he should merely be a head of state and motivator on the sidelines and not involved in the X's and O's of the playbook.
The balance of powers is key to the success of the Pete Carroll administration and the GM hired to accompany Carroll will have to be able to swallow his pride from time to time, but still have the gall to put his foot down when Carroll is making a clear mistake in talent evaluation. It will be interesting to see what direction the Seahawks take in this hiring.
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