The Grateful Dead, Mark Sanchez & Pete Carroll

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets celebrates a touchdown by Thomas Jones #20 in the fourth quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Giants Stadium on January 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

After New York Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez helped lead his team to a 24-14 wild card victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati Saturday, the precocious signal-caller found time to tweak his former college coach at the University of Southern California (USC).

Sanchez, 23, a three-time Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week winner, was publicly chastised by recently resigned Trojans head coach Pete Carroll last January after he declared himself eligible for the draft with a year of collegiate eligibility remaining.

“The facts are so strong against this decision,” said Carroll, 58, of Sanchez, who went 12-1 and was awarded with the 2009 Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player in his only season as the Trojans starter.

“After analyzing all the information, the truth is there—he should’ve stayed for another year.”

Sanchez always possessed the necessary tools to be an elite professional quarterback and it was quite evident from the outset that Carroll’s ass was chapped strictly because “The Sanchise” was his ticket to a potential third national championship.

Undaunted, Carroll decided to cite a study to the media that indicated 62 percent of underclassmen quarterbacks who declare early for the draft flounder in the professional ranks.

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“Big Balls Pete” further lowered himself when he openly projected that Sanchez would not be selected until the second round of the draft.

“Mark’s chance to increase his value and become the top player in college football next year would have been worth $10-$20 million or more—likely more,” whined Carroll, who is known to employ a player-friendly, relaxed style of coaching.

“One more year of running a team is priceless, so he lost his chance to fully prepare himself and become the very best he could be before going to the NFL. That’s why there’s a 62 percent failure rate for underclassmen quarterbacks.”

Ultimately, the Jets scoffed at Carroll’s biased reasoning and traded up to pick Sanchez with the fifth overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Two months later, the Jets wisely inked Sanchez to a five-year contract worth $50 million.

After a brief quarterback competition with Kellen Clemens, Sanchez was officially named the Jets opening day starter in the third week of August.

Although the Jets went a respectable 9-7 in the regular season, Sanchez had a tumultuous and erratic campaign under center.

“The Sanchise” threw only 12 touchdowns, in comparison to a whopping 20 interceptions, for 2,444 yards.

Despite his uneven inaugural year, Sanchez began to flourish in the pocket during the final games of the Jets season.

This past weekend against the Bengals, the native of southern California went 12 of 15 for 182 yards and a touchdown.

Sanchez’s spectacular performance in the clutch produced an incredible 139.4 passer rating and he became only the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first postseason start.

On the same day that Sanchez utterly thrived on the gridiron, it was reported that Carroll had agreed on a five-year contract to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

Carroll previously coached both the Jets and the New England Patriots in the NFL.

In those two stints, Carroll had a combined record of 33-31.

In this week’s edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King  presented research that showed that the Dallas Cowboys’ Jimmy Johnson is the only college coach over the past 20 years who won a single playoff game after he was hired by an NFL team.

“Speaking of coach Carroll, I just want everyone to know, I completely disagree with his decision to go to the NFL,” Sanchez joked. “Statistics show that it’s not a good choice.”

Carroll led the Trojans to seven consecutive Pacific-10 Conference titles from 2002-2008 and he owns a startling 83.5 winning percentage coaching at the college level.

It is indisputable that Carroll was mediocre in his first attempts as a professional coach.

Nevertheless, Carroll has not been employed by an NFL organization since the Patriots terminated him upon the conclusion of the 1999 season.

It is unrealistic to presume that Carroll has not bettered both himself and his trade over the course of eleven years.

Pete Carroll has a solid football mind and he will eventually prevail in “Rain City.”

Somewhat similarly, Mark Sanchez is on the cusp of becoming a great quarterback and he will be a legitimate presence in the pocket for the next decade.

Statistics are often a good barometer to predict future outcomes.

However, data and other figures can only reveal so much.

Pete Carroll and Mark Sanchez will both defy the odds and excel in their newest tests.

Carroll, who was born in San Francisco, has mentioned on occasion that the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia influenced his coaching philosophy.

“Jerry Garcia said that he didn’t want his band to be the best ones doing something. He wanted them to be the only ones doing it,” recounted Carroll.

“To be all by yourself out there doing something that nobody else can touch—that’s the thought that guides me, that guides this program: We’re going to do things better than it’s ever been done before in everything we do, and we’re going to compete our asses off. And we’re gonna see how far that takes us.”

Fans of the Jets and the Seahawks can take solace in the fact that Sanchez and Carroll are guiding their respective organizations.

Mark Sanchez and Pete Carroll are “going to do things better than it’s ever been done before.”

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