Pete Carroll's Legacy Will Be Written by the NCAA Infractions Committee

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IJanuary 9, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans celebrates after defeating the Boston College Eagles during the 2009 Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park on December 26, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Now that ESPN is reporting Pete Carroll has indeed accepted the offer by the Seattle Seahawks to become their next head coach, it is time to look at the legacy that Carroll leaves behind at USC.

Over the last nine years, Carroll has turned in a sterling 96-19 record for the Trojans along with one BCS championship and two AP titles.

Along the way, Carroll has returned the Trojans to national prominence with his fiery, enthusiastic style.

That style allowed him to lure prep talent from all across the country to come play for the Trojans.

It also allowed him to become an icon in Los Angeles, where his prowess as a football coach walked hand-in-hand with his altruistic side that motivated him to create a charitable foundation, "A Better LA," which focused on the problems of the inner city.

For everything that Carroll accomplished on the football field...and on the streets of Los Angeles, we in the Southland thank him.

Carroll returned a moribund program with tons of tradition but no leadership to one of the premier college football teams in the nation.

We will never forget Pete Carroll for those contributions.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Yet there are other things we may never forget about Carroll, and those things are yet to become evident.

The NCAA is continuing its investigation of the Reggie Bush scandal.

Bush, the former Trojan running back, is alleged to have received improper benefits from Trojan boosters specifically in regard to housing arrangements made for his family.

To what extent this investigation will impact USC remains to be seen.

Speculation has USC being imposed with sanctions, and it is these sanctions that prompted Carroll to seek employment elsewhere.

Other rumors suggest that the working relationship Carroll has with Mike Garrett has deteriorated to such an extent that Carroll was not even advised when Joe McKnight, the former Trojan running back, was declared ineligible for the Emerald Bowl.

Whatever the reasons for Carroll's departure, the main thing that matters for Trojan fans are what he leaves behind.

If the NCAA determines the infractions, if any, in the Bush case are so egregious that it warrants severe sanctions, Carroll will have to carry the mantle of that punishment with him to Seattle.

Carroll already will leave behind the wreckage of a very promising recruiting class.

The Trojans have lost many prep players already just due to the rumors of Carroll's departure, and more are to follow.

Exactly how many high school players will now defect remains to be seen, but, suffice it to say, the damage has been done for this year's class.

Yet, that isn't Carroll's fault.

After seven great years of Trojan football (his first and last years at USC were just "so-so"), Carroll has given his best to USC football.

And in America, we all have the right to better ourselves, and if money is the primary consideration, the Seahawks will pile far more in Carroll's bank account than USC can.

What may be Carroll's fault, although this remains to be seen, are the sanctions that may be imposed by the NCAA.

If they are severe, and if it is shown that he was responsible for their imposition, then Carroll's USC legacy will be tarnished.

The last impression that Carroll will leave Los Angeles with will be one of angst for those USC fans he has left behind.

The sweet taste of Trojan football will become bitter for the fans if those sanctions cost USC scholarships or are manifested in a lengthy probation.

So we thank you, Pete Carroll, for everything you did for USC football.

However, the full measure of our appreciation remains to be seen.

Your legacy in the annals of Trojan football will be written by the NCAA.

And that is an author with few, if any, bestsellers.